Bayern vs Hoffenheim: domination pure
Bayern fielded a realistic Bundesliga lineup for its opening match against Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim:
The fact that Lewandowski started in this line-up with first-team support says it all: Ancelotti came to win and advance to the second match. Lewandowski did not disappoint. After some fantastic setup work by Franck Ribery (watch for that nice Cruyff turn in the highlights) and a cross by Juan Bernat, Lewandowski hammered the ball on the volley and into the net.
Corentin Tolisso looked good in his debut. It was a long ball from him to Bernat that initiated play leading to Bayern’s goal. His hyperaggressivity early in the game, though, nearly led to his being sent off. He will have to simmer down going forward.
With Tolisso and Thiago pulling the switches, the offense looked remarkably in form. Ribery and Coman were both constant threats, and Thomas Müller played as if he came to make a statement. He very nearly had an assist to Thiago, whose header at the far corner hit the post, and a later chance was saved by Hoffenheim's Gregor Kobel. But Müller was just getting started.
Bayern vs Bremen: icing on the cake
Ancelotti's lineup for the Telekom Cup finale was a much more experimental lineup, such as you'd expect in a friendly match. Significantly, like the lineup against Hoffenheim, it remained a 4-2-3-1, not the 4-3-3 that Ancelotti repeatedly used early last season;
With several players from the reserves filling out the squad, David Alaba slotted alongside Mats Hummels to allow Javi Martinez to make a cameo in the midfield (he was replaced later by Tolisso). The goal of the lineup seemed rather to test some of the most promising youth players and give Bayern's newest signee James Rodriguez a blank canvas on which to make his debut.
James started on the right wing, as Coman relieved Ribery on the left and 17-year-old Franck Evina relieved Lewandowski. Evina nearly scored early in the match as Bremen's keeper, Michael Zetterer, misplayed a header from James. James asserted himself on a well-taken free kick that Hummels might, maybe should, have scored.
While James impressed, it was Müller who did the most to win Bayern the cup: Müller scored on a long shot from just outside the penalty area to give Bayern a 1:0 lead, somehow awkwardly spinning around to shoot after receiving a pass from Rafinha. And Müller used his heel to pull off a 1-2 pass in the penalty area with Juan Bernat, making it 2:0.
Not all was rosy: when Bayern youngster Franck Evina drew a penalty late in the match, Müller's fairly weak penalty was saved by Zetterer, who also blocked the follow-up shot. At least in the penalty department, Müller's woes continue. But he was still the best man on the pitch.
Off to China
Now Bayern will play four friendlies in China and Singapore over the next two weeks. We can expect both fairly constant rotation and new experiments in formation and roles. James and Tolisso will continue to familiarize themselves with their new teammates, as Ancelotti determines where all the pieces fit. Those pieces already seem to fit very well.