Bayern Munich came out at full speed to kick off this 60th Bundesliga season. It was an absolute sinking of the current Europa League champions, which should have Bundesliga doubters twittering. Let’s first revel in the power of the screen.
A statement of intent
If there were any doubts about Bayern’s appearance this season in the Bundesliga, Joshua Kimmich’s audacious free-kick goal – slid past a one-man wall from wide into the bottom corner – in the fifth minute gave a first response. He should have given the alert, but Eintracht Frankfurt never woke up. Bayern were quicker and livelier with every ball as they fought their way through a torrid first half.
Was Bayern so good or Frankfurt so bad? Probably a bit of both. Oliver Glasner’s 3-4-3 was great publicity for Ineednoname, critic of BFW’s three resident defenders, campaign against the formation keeping just enough men to leave midfield. Bayern steadily charged into space with numbers and showed a fluidity in the final third that was too much to handle anyway.
Yet it required courage and determination. Bayern have shown that none of their traditional ruthlessness has been lost with all the exits from the transfer window, and the smooth onboarding of newcomers – despite an abbreviated pre-season – bodes well for what’s to come.
Set-piece defense, anyone?
After RB Leipzig scored with a header amid their furious fightback in the DFL-Supercup, danger erupted again for Bayern coaches. A twelfth-minute free header at the back post off Alphonso Davies slammed over the top bar, and the back line fell asleep in the 56th on the second ball after a corner. Bayern have been sent off twice.
Bayern were in control of course, but that won’t be the case in every game. Set pieces in particular are a free way to get back into the game – they can materialize out of nowhere, as they almost did. For a team that prides itself on impeccable work, this is definitely an area for improvement.
It’s definitely a variable look in attack for Bayern this year. Gone is the single focal point that was Robert Lewandowski. In his place, there was Sadio Mané, Thomas Müller and Serge Gnabry exchanging freely.
Müller commanded much from the right, but also turned to the center; Gnabry and even Jamal Musiala took turns drifting to the right wing or the right half-space. Sadio Mané was a regular fixture – the Liverpool star’s arrival had plenty of good looks on goal – but also dropped in phases in midfield, where he showed his creative prowess on the ball and his pressing presence .
Fittingly, the first five goals came from five different players. The sixth, deliciously slipped for Jamal Musiala from left-half space by Leroy Sané, was a statement – Bayern can find goals more than their attacking line and more than their starting XI.
New-look defense may have to wait
Announced signings Noussair Mazraoui (AFC Ajax) and Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus) both made their debuts on the bench, but the starters convinced today. Benjamin Pavard scored a goal and threw a number of good challenges at right-back, looking a lot like a World Cup champion who shouldn’t be moved on anytime soon.
And then there is Dayot Upamecano. He threw passes, came forward, even came close to assisting Müller once – but it was his one-on-one work in defense that stood out. Many times it was Upamecano’s speed that snuffed out solid chances for a Frankfurt attack which, despite all the team’s defensive failures, was still lively and hungry. Two great moments in the second half, one in the 62nd minute and one in the 80th minute, required the singular intervention of Upamecano to prevent the goals.
It was the difference between the comfortable 6-1 finish we saw today and something more frantic, like what happened against RB Leipzig last week.
Where is the width?
At least in the first half, Bayern launched their attacks massively from the left half of the pitch. Even Alphonso Davies settled into a deeper role rather than constantly marauding down the flanks.
Bayern didn’t need the wings today, and it was the right way to carve out a place in Frankfurt’s 3-4-3. But it will be interesting to see how that changes from game to game, if so, especially to play to the strengths of Davies and the currently suspended Kingsley Coman.
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