Bayern Munich in good shape in Sevilla tie despite uneven performance

The inquest began at the final whistle. Bayern Munich players were remonstrating with each other in the centre-circle, pointing into the distance at the ghosts of passes misplaced, runs not found, challenges lost. They looked a team defeated, not like men who had just tamed the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and come away with a 2-1 away win over Sevilla that has cleared the path to the semifinal.

"It's very true," Thomas Muller agreed when it was put to him that the Bavarians' unhappiness immediately after the game had been out of kilter with a fabulous result. "We were all annoyed that we didn't create more chances in the first half despite having a lot of space in the half-positions. We lacked direction in attack and brought the opponents into the game with one, two bad mistakes in the build-up game."

Jupp Heynckes was also very critical of his team's "bad organisation in midfield" before the break. "I used some forceful language at halftime," the 72-year-old said.

Centre-backs Mats Hummels admitted that the Germans had been "lucky" to come through a rather poor 45 minutes with the score level. Pablo Sarabia's opener in the 31st minute, the result of a some indecisive defending from hapless Bayern left-back Juan Bernat, was cancelled out by an own goal from Jesus Navas via a deflected Franck Ribery cross in the 37th minute.

Imprecise distribution, a worrying lack of presence in the box (courtesy of a strangely passive Robert Lewandowski), a general slowness of minds and legs -- at this stage in the competition, teams don't usually survive if their list of flaws is as long as Bayern's was in the Andalusian capital.

Heynckes' more cautious 4-3-3 system had added a second defensive midfielder in Arturo Vidal at the expense of a forward, but the effect had been doubly-negative. Muller, pushed out to the right, was ineffective, while neither Thiago nor Vidal, an early substitute with a knee injury, offered much by way of protection or incision.

With James Rodriguez's introduction for Vidal on 36 minutes, a semblance of quality came into Bayern's passing game. But the game only really swung into the visitors' favour once Bernat was replaced by Rafinha.

Alongside the outstanding Ribery, the Brazilian veteran brought guile and experience on the left-hand side. A third stalwart of the 2013 treble-winning team, midfield enforcer Javi Martinez, made a cruciaal intervention with a sliding tackle at full stretch to deny Franco Vazquez Sevilla's second.

"We celebrated that challenge like a goal in the dressing room," Hummels said.

As the home side tired, Bayern settled into the tie from a slightly deeper, more secure starting position and finally created good chances on the break. Thiago's header into David Soria's net on 68 minutes was their just reward, even if the slightly fortunate nature of the goal -- the ball bounced off Sergio Escudero on the way in -- summed up the evening all to well from Bayern's point of view.

It was messy and unconvincing at times. But the result, Bayern's seventh Champions League win in a row, was what everyone wanted.

"Every single one of us would have taken that at the beginning of the game," a relieved Hummels said.

"The positives outweigh the negatives in the end," was Muller's take. "We have very high expectations of ourselves," he added, in reference to some of the problems they had encountered.

Most teams would have been too pleased with the win to address their flaws so openly but then again, Bayern were all to aware that they have some way to go before they find success on the biggest stage.

"We have to improve a lot if we want to win the Champions League," Heynckes warned.

Hummels agreed.

"It was okay, it was good. But you don't win the Champions League with good and OK," he said.

As much as both sets of players stressed that the tie was not over, Bayern's overall quality can only be truly evaluated once they negotiate the return fixture in the Allianz Arena and meet less forgiving opposition.

Tuesday night's schizophrenic showing offered only contradictiory clues. Their tactical and individual weaknesses were as glaring as the resilience and impressive depth of the squad. There's no doubt they can play a lot better. Whether "better" or even their very best will be enough this season will become clearer in due course.