Bayern Munich came out at full throttle to kick off this 60th season of the Bundesliga. It was an utter destruction of the reigning Europa League champions, one that should have Bundesliga doubters singing. Let’s first revel in the power of the screen.
A statement of intent
If there was any doubt about how Bayern would look this season in the Bundesliga, Joshua Kimmich’s audacious free kick goal, which slid past a one-man wall from some distance into the bottom corner, in the fifth minute gave an early reply. It should have raised the alarm, but Eintracht Frankfurt never woke up. Bayern were quicker and more alive with every ball as they made their way through a torrid first half.
Was Bayern that good or Frankfurt that bad? Probably some of both. Oliver Glasner’s 3-4-3 was an excellent advertisement for BFW’s resident critic Ineednoname’s campaign against the formation, keeping just enough men to vacate the midfield. Bayern routinely charged through space with numbers, and showed a fluidity in the final third that was too difficult to handle anyway.
Still, that required guts and determination. Bayern showed that none of their traditional ruthlessness has been lost with all the transfer window spending, and the smooth integration of newcomers, despite an abbreviated pre-season, bodes well for things to come.
Set piece defense, anyone?
After RB Leipzig headed in the middle of their furious comeback in the DFL-Supercup, danger resurfaced for Bayern’s set-piece coaches. A twelfth-minute free header to the far post over Alphonso Davies bounced off the top crossbar and the byline fell asleep in the 56th minute with the second ball from a corner. Bayern were left out 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 way to get back into the game: they can materialize out of thin air, as they almost did. For a team that prides itself on set pieces, this is certainly an area for improvement.
rotations to the front
It is definitely a variable look in attack for Bayern this year. Gone is the one focal point that was Robert Lewandowski. In his place were Sadio Mané, Thomas Müller and Serge Gnabry exchanging freely.
Müller commanded a lot from the right, but also turned towards the center; Gnabry and even Jamal Musiala took turns drifting to the right wing or right halfspace. Sadio Mané was a regular fixture: the Liverpool star arrival had plenty of good looks on goal, but he too fell into deep phases in midfield, where he displayed his creative prowess on the ball and his presence pressing from behind. the.
Fittingly, the first five goals came from five different players. The sixth, delightfully inserted by Jamal Musiala from left midspace for Leroy Sané, was a statement: Bayern can find goals from more than just their attacking line and more than their starting eleven.
The new defense will have to wait
Announced signings Noussair Mazraoui (AFC Ajax) and Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus) made their debuts off the bench, but the starters convinced today. Benjamin Pavard scored a goal and made a number of good challenges at right back, looking like a World Cup champion who is unlikely to be displaced any time soon.
And then there is Dayot Upamecano. He made quick passes, got ahead and even almost assisted Müller once, but it was his 1-on-1 defensive work that stood out. On numerous occasions it was Upamecano’s speed that snuffed out solid opportunities for a Frankfurt attack that, despite all the team’s defensive failings, was still alive and hungry. Two great moments in the second half, one in the 62nd minute and the other in the 80th minute, required Upamecano’s singular intervention to avoid goals.
That was the difference between the comfortable 6-1 finish we saw today and something more frenetic, like what unfolded against RB Leipzig last week.
Where is the width?
In the first half at least, Bayern spilled their attacks hard down the left half of the pitch. Even Alphonso Davies has been settling into a deeper role instead of constantly hanging around the flanks.
Bayern didn’t need the full-backs today, and it was the right way to break up Frankfurt’s 3-4-3. But it’s going to be interesting to see how this changes from game to game, if at all, especially as a way to play to the strengths of Davies and the currently suspended Kingsley Coman.
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