It was back to business as usual for Bayern Munich in their first match of the Bundesliga restart against Union Berlin. Thanks to a penalty from Robert Lewandowski and a header from Benjamin Pavard, Bayern were 2-0 winners, picking up right where they left off before the outbreak of the coronavirus. They restored their 4 point lead the top of of the table over Borussia Dortmund after it had provisionally been reduced to 1 point with Dortmund’s 4-0 thrashing of Schalke in the rivierderby.
Despite not putting on their best performance of the season, Hansi Flick was pleased with the way his side worked throughout the 90 minutes in Berlin. It was expected that the sharpness wouldn’t be at 100% having gone 2 months without playing a competitive match. Speaking after the win, Flick was especially happy with the fact that they were able to keep a clean sheet (FCBayern.com): “It was a workmanlike but deserved victory. We struggled at first, but I must pay my team a compliment on the 90 minutes. We could surely be heard shouting, ‘Lads, you need to keep a clean sheet.’ So at the end of the day I’m satisfied with the result.”
Of course, adjusting to the atmosphere, or lack thereof, without the presence of fans is something that’s difficult to adjust to for players. While admitting that Bayern could’ve played significantly better in the win, captain Manuel Neuer praised his side for being able to adapt to the bizarre atmosphere through maintaining motivation and the proper attitude: “We’re glad we were dominant and deservedly took the three points. We could have played better, but we deservedly won the match. We’re used to a different atmosphere at this stadium. But it’s down to us, it’s a question of motivation, of attitude and of being aware of what kind of match it is. We’re trying to do our best of course, we’ve worked very hard, and now we want to live up to our full potential. It’s a new situation, we have to cope with it. One of the nine match-days is over. We shouldn’t write off any team.”
Thomas Muller echoed Neuer’s comments, recognizing Bayern was miles off of their best en route to a routine victory. Muller started out wide on the right flank since Leon Goretzka started as the central attacking midfielder, but he was one of Bayern’s top performers of the match and was perhaps deserving of at least a goal or assist. Of course, he did score a header in the 17th minute, but the goal was ruled out after VAR deemed he was just a whisker offside.
While the overturned goal may have been a personal disappointment for Muller, he praised the way Bayern pressed on and gradually improved as the match progressed, especially after Lewandowski broke the deadlock in the 40th minute with his penalty: “We traveled here to take three points, we’ve achieved that. There was room for improvement here and there, especially in the first 25 minutes, we resorted to too many long balls then. We improved a bit after that. We were more confident after the opener, we should have scored another goal before half-time. Our display was okay but there was certainly room for improvement. We were excited, just like before Match-day 1 in August. Both teams coped really well with the circumstances. Our focus is on the sport as soon as the ball rolls. Of course the fans can give us some extra momentum, but we must ignore that. We’re four points clear, we took another step towards our big goal today.”
Bayern now has the week to train and prepare for a busy period ahead. They face Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend and the have der Klassiker against Dortmund just 3 days later in what will be the first “English week” of the Bundesliga restart. Flick will have some important decisions to make as far as rotations are concerned.