Müller and Lewandowski stole the show.
Wow! Bayern Munich are very lucky that, at least so far, it looks like Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller are approaching the form that they had during Pep Guardiola’s last season at the helm of the club. Sure, it helps that Müller is being played underneath Lewandowski instead of thrust to the far reaches of the field whipping in listless cross after listless cross.
They’re flips and flicks were impossible for Stuttgart to grapple with on the day, and both players capitalized on very little space to score their goals. Both Müller and Lewandowski (along with Leon Goretzka) notched one goal and one assist on the day. It’s looking like 2018-19 will be a great season for the two men up front.
Thiago anchored the midfield without Javi and was tremendous.
Everyone needs to stop what they’re doing and give Thiago Alcantara a round of applause. The guy is tremendous. When Thiago is healthy and on his game, there is no other midfielder in the world that can hang with him. With Javi Martinez out of the starting lineup for the match, Thiago was shifted back with the responsibility of anchoring the midfield while still launching the Bayern attack.
Thiago was on another level. He completed 96% of his 106 passes with 123 touches. Stuttgart was unable to stop him, and he was key in helping the defense break up Stuttgart’s attempted transition offense.
With that said...
Goretzka looked great in Thiago’s “normal” role. Will it work against a better team?
Leon Goretzka replaced Javi Martinez in the starting lineup, but Goretzka played Thiago Alcantara’s more forward position while Thiago replaced Javi’s normal position. Goretzka was very active in a free-attacking role and was rewarded on the day with a goal and an assist. The was was a superb finish and his first Bundesliga goal in a Bayern jersey.
While this worked against a club like Stuttgart, it will be interesting to see if this kind of personnel would work against a better, more attack-oriented team. Without a defensive presence like Javi on the field, even if he is slowing down with age, can a Thiago-Goretzka combination work?
Bayern’s counterattack defense was incredible.
A team like Bayern regularly faces counterattacks throughout matches due to the sheer amount of of possession that they have. However, for 90 minutes against Stuttgart, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng performed spectacularly in keeping Stuttgart from ever really running at Manuel Neuer’s goals with any kind of overwhelming numbers. Their ability to snuff out attacks before they could ever get started was near-perfect on the day, and they gave Neuer a huge break on the day.
Manuel Neuer fell asleep.
Neuer didn’t have to make a single save in this one. The second half in particular was all Bayern, and I’m pretty sure that we saw Neuer curl up in front of his goal with a pillow and a blanket. Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels were solid all night long, keeping Stuttgart from threatening. Welcome back to regular action, Neuer.