FC Bayern Munich started the 60th Bundesliga season at full speed. It was an absolute crash from the current Europa League champions, which should make the Bundesliga doubters chirp. Let’s first indulge in the power of the display.
A statement of intent
If there was any doubt about how Bayern would look in the Bundesliga this season, Joshua Kimmich’s brazen free-kick goal, which slipped past a one-man wall into the bottom corner from some distance, provided an early answer in the fifth minute. It should have raised an alarm, but Eintracht Frankfurt never woke up. Bayern played every ball faster and livelier as they romped through a heated first half.
Was Bayern so good or Frankfurt so bad? Probably some of both. Oliver Glasner’s 3-4-3 was excellent publicity for the BFW back three’s Ineednoname critic’s campaign against the formation, holding off just enough men to clear midfield. Bayern routinely stormed through the room with numbers and showed an already overwhelmed fluidity in the last third.
However, this required courage and determination. Bayern have shown that with all the spending of the transfer window, none of their traditional ruthlessness has been lost and the smooth integration of the newcomers – despite a shortened pre-season – bodes well for the future.
Standard defense, anyone?
After RB Leipzig had scored in the furious race to catch up in the DFL Supercup, danger flashed again for the Bayern standard coaches. A free header in the 12th minute at the far post over Alphonso Davies rattled off the top bar and the defenders fell asleep on the second ball from a corner in the 56th. Bayern were sent off both times.
Bayern were in control, of course, but that won’t be the case in every game. Set pieces, in particular, are a free path back into play – they can arise out of thin air as they almost did. For a team that prides itself on its standard work, this is certainly an area for improvement.
twists in front
FC Bayern looks changeable this year in any case. Gone is the only focus that was Robert Lewandowski. In his place, Sadio Mané, Thomas Müller and Serge Gnabry exchanged freely.
Müller controlled a lot on the right, but also turned into the center; Gnabry and even Jamal Musiala alternately drifted onto the right wing and into the right half-space. Sadio Mané was a regular – the Liverpool star signing created plenty of good chances – but also at times dove deep into midfield, where he showcased his creative ability on the ball and pressing presence off the ball.
Fittingly, the first five goals came from five different players. The sixth, slipped in beautifully from left half-space by Leroy Sané for Jamal Musiala, was a statement – Bayern can find goals from more than just their attacking line and more than just their starting XI.
The new-look defense may have to wait
Announced signings Noussair Mazraoui (AFC Ajax) and Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus) both made their debuts off the bench but the starters impressed today. Benjamin Pavard conceded a goal and made some good challenges at right-back, looking very much like a world champion who was unlikely to be ousted any time soon.
And then there’s Dayot Upamecano. He pinged passes, got forward, even came close to helping Muller once – but it was his 1-on-1 work on defense that stood out. On several occasions it was Upamecano’s pace that snuffed out solid chances for a Frankfurt attack, which despite all the team’s defensive weaknesses was still lively and hungry. Two big moments in the second half, one in the 62nd minute and one in the 80th, required Upamecano’s unique intervention to prevent goals.
That was the difference between the comfortable 6-1 finish we saw today and something more hectic like it unfolded against RB Leipzig last week.
where is the width
At least in the first half, Bayern poured their attacks heavily over the left half of the field. Even Alphonso Davies has settled into a deeper role rather than constantly marching down the flanks.
Bayern didn’t need the wings today and it was the right way to dissect Frankfurt’s 3-4-3. But it will be interesting to see how that changes from game to game, if that is the case – particularly to play to the strengths of Davies and currently suspended Kingsley Coman.
Interested in more analysis of the game? Why not check out our postgame podcast? Listen to it below or at this link.
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