Bayern Munich began their preseason with a trip to Carson, California, to play Arsenal. After a slow first half, where each time produced only a few chances, the game really opened up in the second.
A Bayern own-goal allowed the Gunners to take the lead 49th minute. The Bavarians then attacked for most of the second half, and it eventually led to Lewandowski equalizing in the 71st. Bayern had plenty of chances to win, but when it looked like penalties were going to decide the game, Arsenal scored in the 87th minute. If this wasn’t a preseason game with a lot of youth playing, it would have been a terrible way to lose. Here are three observations from the match.
Bayern’s youth looked promising
Although Bayern’s young players looked a little out of place at times, they played great for most of the game. It appeared to take a few minutes in the first half to get the butterflies out, but after the youngsters held what was basically Arsenal's first team at bay in the first half.
While Bayern’s youngsters had some veteran leadership in each area of the field, you can’t ignore the fact that they held their own against a Premier League team that is further into their preseason than Bayern is. Fiete Arp was a standout performer, eating up Arsenal’s flank for the entire half. BFW’s own Chuck Smith has already appointed himself conductor of the newly commissioned #ArpTrain. It will be fun to see what he can do in Munich.
Unfortunately some shoddy defensive work by two young players are probably to blame for Bayern’s loss. The own-goal, that gave Arsenal the 1-0 lead, came off of left-back Louis Poznanski, who had just entered the game at halftime. Arsenal’s winning goal came off of a great play from a corner kick, where most of the team fell asleep on defense. The play was initiated in a one-two orchestrated by John-Jules and Callum Chambers, who was being guarded by defensive midfielder Stiller. Still could not prevent Chambers from completely the play to John-Jules. His ensuing cross to Nketiah found Poznanski looking at the play helplessly from the outside in.
Unfortunately, that’s what you get with youngsters — some of it’s good, some of it’s bad.
The veteran core is still good
Possibly overshadowed by the performance of the younger players, veterans like Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, Thiago, and Javi Martinez all put in the type of performance that we have come to expect of them. Even Jerome Boateng was rock-solid, and he seemed to be happy on the pitch.
At halftime, Bayern made eleven subs. Coach Kovac took out the starting lineup, which was youth-heavy, and put in a strong attacking core of veterans, with a few young guys sprinkled in. Joshua Kimmich, Robert Lewandowski, Leon Goretzka, and Serge Gnabry came in and put their mark on the game. Each of them created chances and had chances to score. Lewy’s header-goal appeared to be in slow-motion. Even though he was falling backwards, away from goal when he jumped, he was able to head the ball to the far-corner of the goal. Arsenal's keeper had no choice but to just watch it fall into his net.
The King is back!
Kingsley Coman appears to be back at full strength (knock on wood), which is great news for Bayern. We saw many bright moments last season from the Frenchman after his injury, but it was a long road to full recovery.
Coman was a nightmare to defend for the entire second half. He smoked by anyone that tried to defend him, especially Arsenal’s right-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and got into the penalty box often. The Frenchman forced a couple of saves and set up his teammates for some good shot opportunities. The only thing missing from the night was another goal or two, which would have been more than deserved. Let’s hope that we get a full season of that Coman this year!