Bayern Munich had it easy in their opening match of the season. Their first road test against Schalke could not have been more different. Though the Royal Blues came to play, the defending Champions were able to prevail 2-0 after a late goals from Robert Lewandowski and Joshua Kimmich.
The game-winning strike came after a aggressive move and an incisive pass from Javi Martinez. The defender played a key role in Bayern’s victory in Gelsenkirchen a year ago, heading in the game-winning goal en route to a 3-1 result. This time, he played a spectacular pass to Robert Lewandowski, who only had to compose himself before slotting in the decisive goal.
Martinez’s brilliance gave Carlo Ancelotti the perfect start Bayern coaches are used to experiencing. His hands were tied as he tried to protect the players who were returning from injury and international duty. He waited until after the hour mark to make all three of his substitutions, and each one helped turn the game back into Bayern’s favor.
Ancelotti’s last substitution, Joshua Kimmich, put the game out of reach in stoppage time. The German international received the ball on the right side of the penalty area and fired in a goal similar to his first international goal with Germany at the beginning of the week.
Like the DFL Supercup, Bayern did not look the better team for most of the contest. Schalke had a point to prove after losing their opening match to Frankfurt in pathetic style, but Bayern were still able to muscle out a result on the road. It was not the overwhelming performance Pep Guardiola was often able to manufacture in the Bundesliga, but Ancelotti has also earned the perfect start his predecessor got in his last season in charge.
Schalke came out with a high level of intent and made Bayern uncomfortable from the start. Leon Goretzka spent his first appearance since his injury during the Olympics running at the Bayern defense. Even the hyperactive Renato Sanches, making his first ever start for the Bavarians, could not match the high intensity with which Schalke played.
Markus Weinzierl, trying to forget his teams lack-luster performance in Frankfurt, deployed recently acquired enforcers Nabil Bentaleb and Benjamin Stambouli in midfield, and both did well to disrupt Bayern’s build-up play. In a stretch of play after the half-an-hour mark, Stambouli fouled Franck Ribery in Bayern’s half of the field before Bentaleb did the same to Thiago just a minute later. Though Manuel Gräfe warned both of them about their aggressiveness, the two former Tottenham teammates had Bayern’s midfielders looking over their shoulders.
Schalke nearly got on the board twice in the first half. David Alaba had to clear a header from Leon Goretzka after a sharp service from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. Abdul Baba Rahman motored past the Bayern midfield not long before halftime, but Manuel Neuer and Mats Hummels were able to do enough to make sure Yevhen Konoplyanka’s cross did not end up in the back of the net. Neuer came up big early in the second half too, getting a hand to a laser beam from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
The tables turned when Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa came into the game at the hour mark. Ancelotti suddenly had the midfield back, and opportunities came much more frequently. Douglas did well to release Alaba on the left side, but neither Thomas Muller at the near post nor Lewandowski on the far post could knock the cross into the goal.
Martinez’s pass undid all the hard defensive work Schalke had put in the entire game. The Royal Blues had to push for an equalizer in the last ten minutes, which allowed Bayern’s attack to finally operate in uncontested space. It was only a matter of time before Lewandowski picked out Kimmich on the counter to allow the young star to get his first-ever Bundesliga goal.
Schalke 04 (0-2) Bayern Munich
FCB: Robert Lewandowski (81’), Joshua Kimmich (90+2’)
Schalke XI: Fährmann – Höwedes, Naldo, Nastasić, Baba – Stambouli (Kolasinac 86’), Bentaleb – Konoplyanka (Embolo 55’), Goretzka, Choupo-Moting – Huntelaar (Meyer 67’)
Bayern XI: Neuer – Lahm, Martínez, Hummels, Alaba – Thiago, Alonso (Vidal 61’), Renato Sanches (Kimmich 71’) – Müller, Lewandowski, Ribéry (Douglas 61’)