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Bayern Munich Open China Tour with 4-1 Win Over Valencia | Recap and Analysis

A Thomas Müler brace sparks an encouraging preseason victory over a talented opponent.

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Bayern Munich opened their preseason tour in China with an bang, outclassing Valencia in their first friendly with a 4-1 victory.

Thomas Müller got a first half brace, Philipp Lahm feeding him twice to give Bayern the first half lead. Thiago Alcântara and Robert Lewandowski both got goals in the second half as Bayern won the contest in convincing fashion.

Despite being a friendly, the match wasted no time getting up to speed, both teams getting up and down the pitch with thunderous intentions. Bayern played quick one-touch football, tic-tac-toeing the ball up the pitch. Valencia clogged the midfield to bushel up Bayern's buildup play, while Rodrigo, Rodrigo de Paul, and Santi Mina pressed high up the field.

Lahm bossed the right flank, running up and down the right side of the field as a wingback. He eventually got an opening on the right side of the penalty area, and when he cut it back to Müller, the 25-year-old smashed the ball near post past the dive of Yoel Rodriguez.

Valencia still came at Bayern, and Rodrigo was able to find an equalizer 11 minutes later. Rodrigo de Paul took advantage of the space Rafinha licensed to him and found the head of Rodrigo at the far post, who bopped it uncontested in the back of the net. The contest was neck and neck at that point until Müller got in behind the defense in the penalty area, slotting a through ball from Lahm into the back of the net just before halftime.

The momentum stayed with Bayern from that point forward. First Douglas Costa serviced an off-balance incision through the Valencia defense, an easy tap-in for Thiago. Robert Lewandowski put the match out of reach a quarter of an hour later, manufacturing a chance from the left baseline before finishing far-post.

With the match firmly in hand, Pep Guardiola was able to showcase more of Bayern's talent, bringing on nine substitutions in the second half as Bayern finished off the victory. That included Joshua Kimmich, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, and Gianluca Gaudino, who teamed up for the second time in Bayern's preseason.

Next on the docket for Bayern is Inter Milan on July 21 in Shanghai before their China excursion ends against Guangzhou Evergrand on July 23.

Match Details

Bayern Munich (4-1) Valencia

FCB: Thomas Müller (16', 45+1'), Thiago Alcântara (54'), Robert Lewandowski (69')
VCF: Rodrigo (27')

Bayern XI: Ulreich (Starke 46') – Rafinha, Benatia (Steinhart 81'), Alaba, Bernat (Pohl 81') – Alonso (Kimmich 58') – Lahm (Green 82'), Thiago (Gaudino 72'), Rode (Højbjerg 58'), Costa (Kurt 72') – Müller (Lewandowski 58')

Valencia XI: Yoel (Domenech 81') – Barragán, Vezo (Mustafi 46'), Orban, Gayà (Piatti 14') – Fuego (Alcacer 66'), Enzo Perez (Feghouli 46') Parejo (Tropi 66') – Rodrigo (Bakkali 66'), De Paul, Santi Mina (Negredo 46')

Instant Analysis

  • Bayern were not playing friendlies like this a year ago. Not only did they go intently at their opponents, but their opponents were going intently at them. While friendlies are designed to ease players into the new season, the fact Bayern were making quick decision and clinical runs was a very good sign.
  • Lahm's role and performance was the obvious storyline from the match. Many will quibble over whether he was a right midfielder or a wingback but the clear truth was the right flank was his responsibility, and he shouldered that responsibility extremely well. The clever service he provided to Müller was vintage Lahm, and his ability to cut inside showed how versatile he has become late in his career. He is a very valuable chess piece Guardiola has on his board, and the gaffer will find many ways to exploit his skill set this season.
  • His first match in the Telekom Cup was encouraging, but Douglas Costa's performance on Saturday was electric. He was a quick-firing engine on the left, utilizing every inch of space Barragán afforded to him while also doing everything he could to not let Valencia get away after turning over the ball. More importantly, he was on the same wavelength as David Alaba and Juan Bernat, exhibiting a clear spacial awareness that allows Bayern to stretch the play on the left. Douglas Costa is still going through an adjustment period, but Kevin de Bruyne-esque assist numbers is not out of the question.
  • Højbjerg only got a half-an-hour shift in the match, but he highlighted in that brief showing how much he has grown as a player. His presence on the ball is much more emphatic, and his ingenuity is on a different, higher level. While he missed a wide-open chance off of a pass from Lahm, the two touches he took to create space for himself in the penalty area was not something he would have done a year ago. He has a lot of players to elbow out of the way in order to get consistent playing time, but at 20-years-old, he is showing how high his ceiling is.

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