Bayern Munich came out firing on all cylinders to kick off this 60th season of the Bundesliga. It was an absolute demolition of the reigning Europa League champions, one that should have the Bundesliga doubters chirping. Let’s enjoy the power of the screen first.
Statement of intent
If there were any doubts about how Bayern would look this season in the Bundesliga, Joshua Kimmich’s audacious free-kick goal – slid past a one-man wall from a few ways into the bottom corner – in the fifth minute provided an early answer. It should have raised the alarm bells, but Eintracht Frankfurt never woke up. Bayern were faster and more alive to every ball as they romped through a torrid first half.
Was Bayern that good or Frankfurt that bad? Probably some of both. Oliver Glasner’s 3-4-3 was a great advert for BFW resident back-three critic Ineednoname’s campaign against the formation, keeping just enough men back to vacate the midfield. Bayern routinely charged through space with numbers, and showed a fluidity in the final third that was too much to handle anyway.
However, this required seriousness and determination. Bayern showed that none of their traditional ruthlessness was lost with all the exits of the transfer windowand the smooth integration of the newcomers — despite a shortened preseason — bodes well for what’s to come.
Defense of a piece, anyone?
After RB Leipzig scored from a header in the middle of their fierce fightback in the DFL Supercup, danger flashed again for Bayern’s coaches. A free header in the twelfth minute at the back post over Alphonso Davies clicked off the top bar, and the backline fell asleep in the 56th on the second ball after a corner. Bayern were relegated on both occasions.
Bayern were in control, of course, but that won’t be the case in every game. Placements in particular are a free way back into the game – they can materialize out of nowhere, as they almost did. For a team that prides itself on its setup, it’s certainly an area for improvement.
It’s certainly a varied look in attack for Bayern this year. Gone is the single focus that was Robert Lewandowski. In his place, there were 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 right half space. Sadio Mané was a regular feature – the star arrival of Liverpool got plenty of good looks in goal – but also dropped in phases deep into midfield where he showed his creative skill on the ball and his pressing presence off it.
Fittingly, the first five goals came from five different players. The sixth, delightfully slotted in for Jamal Musiala from Leroy Sané’s left half-space, was a statement – Bayern can find goals from more than just its forward line and more than just its starting XI.
The new-look defense may have to wait
Announced signings Noussair Mazraoui (AFC Ajax) and Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus) both made their debut from the bench, but the starters were convincing today. Benjamin Pavard collected a goal and put in some good challenges at right back, looking very much like a World Cup champion not likely to be displaced anytime soon.
And then there is Dayot Upamecano. He topped passes, got forward, even almost assisted Müller once – but it was his 1-on-1 work in defense that stood out. Many times it was Upamecano’s speed that turned off solid chances for a Frankfurt attack that, for all the team’s defensive failures, was still lively and hungry. Two big moments in the second half, one at the 62nd minute and one at the 80th minute, required the extraordinary intervention of Upamecano to prevent goals.
That was the difference between the comfortable 6-1 finish we saw today and something crazier, like what unfolded against RB Leipzig last week.
Where is the width?
In the first half at least, Bayern poured their attacks heavily on the left half of the field. Even Alphonso Davies has 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 break up Frankfurt’s 3-4-3. But it will be interesting to see how this changes from game to game, if it happens – especially as a way to play to the strengths of Davies and the currently suspended Kingsley Coman.
As always, we appreciate all the support!