Bayern Munich dusted Red Bull Salzburg 7-1 behind an early barrage of goals and then never had to look back. Here are some observations on how it all played out:
There has been a lot of debate and a lot of griping about the back-three — and the criticisms are all valid to a point. Still, when it clicks for the forward-heavy version of this 3-4-2-1 formation, it really works. I think a lot of fans would feel more comfortable if things just didn’t look so hapless at times.
We all know that Bayern Munich doesn’t necessarily have the horses to really run a traditional back-three system at this point, but sometimes this version of the formation does create a lot of havoc and keeps so much pressure on the opposition that the defensive levee eventually breaks.
But, yes, that does not always happen consistently, so fans are going to get antsy every time the tweet with this lineup rolls out.
The defense didn’t fold early
In American football, the “bend, but don’t break” defense is often referenced. Early in this match, that’s exactly how Bayern Munich looked.
In the first minute, Red Bull Salzburg easily could have scored, but the threats were few and far between after that. Sure, some (okay...A LOT) of that was because of the massive amount of pressure that Bayern Munich created offensively, but the backline did its job.
I’ll say it, I think I’m more comfortable with Benjamin Pavard, Niklas Süle, and Lucas Hernandez in there right now as a back-three than any other combination.
The late defensive breakdown that led to Maurits Kjaergaard’s goal was almost expected after the subs had already been made.
Neuer’s presence was a huge boost
As our guy Phillip Quinn theorized last weekend, Manuel Neuer’s presence alone makes Bayern Munich so much better.
Maybe it’s a reach to say that Bayern Munich was playing more confidently just because of Neuer (the early lead didn’t hurt), but I’m not sure you could argue that him being between the sticks was not a boost for the Bavarians. The squad can play a little differently with Neuer in goal — he’s that good.
Bayern Munich had some jump in its step
Bayern Munich was obviously the faster and better team, but they looked extra motivated and extra hungry from the outset — which is not something we have seen consistently of late. Gone were the heavy legs of Saturday and some fresh, energetic getaway sticks entered the fray.
It was absolutely fun to watch the team play with such speed, finesse, creativity, and short-burst quickness. Once the squad really pulled away, the pace settled, but the message was clearly sent: When Bayern Munich wants to ramp it up, the Bavarians have a lot to offer.
It was the Lewy Show
Robert Lewandowski stole the show early with three goals in the first 23 minutes to put the Bavarians comfortably out in front and in a spot where all fans — confident or nervous — could breathe a sigh of relief.
Lewandowski had been quiet of late and some doubters were even starting to insinuate the Polish Hitman might be slowing down or hitting a rut.
That noise was quickly silenced with his unbelievable start. The first penalty was a no-doubt call, while second was soooooooo close to being outside the box. Regardless, he drilled home both attempts and added a very nice goal after that.
Lewandowski’s pass to Leroy Sane late in the match was just perfection. Sane deposited his shot into the net in an authoritative manner and Lewandowski picked up an assist.
Musiala might push Gnabry out of a job
They might not necessarily be playing the same position any longer, but Jamal Musiala’s versatility — and electric talent — might have the bosses considering exactly how much they want to spend on Serge Gnabry.
This isn’t a knock on Gnabry by any means, but Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich just inked long-term deals and it seems like a waste to just shutter Musiala behind them. In addition, Bayern Munich has a ton of money wrapped up in Leroy Sane and Kingsley Coman — plus new deals for Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski are supposed to happen.
Something has to give...and it might be Gnabry’s contract extension.
Musiala is proving he can play central midfield — and we already know he can play as both an attacking midfielder and a wing (if Bayern Munich even needs that position next season). The youngster is going to make things very tough for the team to justify paying Gnabry €15 million a year (or more).
This kind of win was needed
Everyone wants good competition and tight, fun games...but man, that was needed in the worst way. While some fans were confident, many were nervous about the match — and I get that to an extent. Things were not looking good, the squad was struggling at times, and looked flat for much of the last month.
This match, however, just had a different kind of energy from the outset and Bayern Munich needed a showing of dominance — which is exactly what they put forth.
If you’re looking for more analysis of the game, why not check out our postgame podcast? Listen to it below or at this link.
As always, we appreciate all the support!