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Three match observations on Bayern Munich’s 4:1 friendly win over Hamburg

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Bayern managed to beat Hamburg with a team largely made up of back-ups and youth players, including Renato Sanches.

HAMBURG, GERMANY - AUGUST 15: Orel Mangala (L) of Hamburg and Renato Sanches of Muenchen battle for the ball during the Friendly match between Hamburger SV FC Bayern Muenchen at Volksparkstadion on August 15, 2018 in Hamburg, Germany.
Renato Sanches battles against Orel Mangala, August 15, 2018.
Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images

In Bayern’s final wrap-up game ahead of the new season they comfortably beat second-division side Hamburg by a score of 4:1 with two goals scored by Sandro Wagner and two more by Thomas Müller.

The youngsters looked . . . young

Bayern fielded a young side to start the game, and, at times, it showed. The back line was made up of Rafinha, Ivan Mihaljevic (17), Maxime Awoudja (20), and Derrick Köhn (19). They played well considering they were going up against a full-strength Hamburg side, but you could tell at times that the game was quicker than they were used to. Especially in build-up play, a lack of quickness and directness allowed Hamburg to pressure the players in possession and make solid runs of possession difficult to come by.

The youngsters were, however, solid in defense, and other than on Hamburg’s opening goal, when Mihaljevic was outmuscled by Jann-Fiete Arp, they had no major defensive hiccups or miscues. The majority of Hamburg’s chances came off of turnovers and misplaced passes that they used to quickly move forward and create dangerous runs at Bayern’s goal.

Towards the end of the game, Niko Kovac brought on more academy players, with Maximilian Franzke providing an assist for Thomas Müllers opening goal, and Joshua Zirkzee nearly finding the net off of a pass by Franck Ribery.

A tale of two halves for Renato Sanches

Not a great day at the office for Renato Sanches. Lined up next to Sebastian Rudy and Leon Goretzka in a midfield three, Sanches couldn’t build upon the positive performances he has had throughout the preseason, especially in the first half. His passing was poor in the opening 45 minutes. Two misplaced passes in ball retention situations led directly to two goal-scoring opportunities for Hamburg. In another instance, after receiving the ball facing his own goal, he tried to dribble his way out of danger and ended up losing it, leaving the defense outnumbered and scrambling to prevent a goal.

It wasn’t all bad, though. The second half, after the introduction of Niklas Süle, was much better than the first. Sanches kept his passing game simple and made several dangerous runs into the box, almost scoring on a back heel effort early in the second half after combining nicely with Leon Goretzka. Later in the second half, an overlapping run in behind Ribery provided him with another goal scoring opportunity, though his left footed shot only hit the side netting.

Bayern look ready for the new season

All in all, a solid victory for Bayern, albeit against a weak opponent. After a shaky first half, Bayern really dominated once they found their way into the match. Especially after the introduction of a few regular first-teamers, such as Süle, Müller, Thiago, and Joshua Kimmich, Bayern really took control of the game and pushed Hamburg deep into their own half, constantly threatening Hamburg’s goal.

The full squad has now had three preseason games together, and they’ve won all three. They beat Manchester United 1:0, Frankfurt 5:0, and now Hamburg 4:1. They were the better side in each of those games and played some good football throughout. While there’s still some uncertainty going into the season as to what players make up Bayern’s current top XI, Bayern, as of right now, are deeper and, most importantly, healthier than they seemingly have been in a while. It’s time to get excited for the real games to begin.