A sold-out, cooking, intimidating Waldstadion. A physical team, riding on the high after clinching their club’s most heavy title in history. An absent record-breaker and star player.
None of it mattered.
Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern Munich won the game the second referee Deniz Aytekin blew the starting whistle.
It was 5-0 after 43 minutes with five different goal scorers. The perfect start to one of the more dramatic summer transfer periods Bayern Munich has had in recent memory. Robert Lewandowski, arguably the best player Die Roten has ever had, decided to leave Bayern in a climactic fashion.
It was a transfer saga fitting for a club like FC Hollywood. It had everything: sleazy agents, a rather hostile ‘cat and mouse’ game between club and player, and the media spotlight from all corners over the world.
The way Lewandowski left Bayern Munich – in my opinion – leaves him out of a conversation that includes the likes of Gerd Müller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Oliver Kahn.
But I’ll leave that debate for the comment section. What was on my mind before today’s game was simple: How the f**k does one replace a player who in the last three seasons has scored 110 Bundesliga goals?!
Put some respek on his name
The answer is that you can’t replace a player like that with another. You rebuild and tweak your tactics. And you spend money on players that will benefit a clear system.
Of course, it is too early to tell if Hasan Salihamidžić has successfully replaced the un-replaceable. However, both he and Julian Nagelsmann got off to a great start today.
Bayern’s offensive star signing – Sadio Mane – looked brilliant tonight. Zig-zagging his way through the Frankfurt defence while showcasing his creative playmaking skills – Sadio looked like he has been at Bayern since birth.
But the star of the show tonight was el jefe, Julian Nagelsmann. After spending almost €140m so far this summer, Julian needs to have a good year.
The Bayern job is never easy – but I feel the young Nagelsmann is in charge during a Bayern era of abnormal uncertainty. Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge have been replaced by Hasan Salihamidžić, Oliver Kahn, and Herbert Hainer. Lewandowski left at the peak of his powers after a public spat with the Bayern board. Bayern is experiencing drastic change off the pitch, but Nagelsmann will always be blamed for the problems on it.
One can simply not predict a season after 45 minutes. But bloody hell, what a fantastic 45 minutes it was. After all the factors outside of the pitch leading to this game, I can safely say that it was the best 45 minutes I’ve seen Bayern play since the two halves against Barcelona in 2020.
Nagelsball at its finest – and a reassurance of the heights this team can reach.
A new Bayern
However, this article won’t cover any long-term predictions, or debate whether Julian Nagelsmann is the right man for the job. I will say this though: the always vocal ‘’I am against this coach’’ fans should, rightfully, feel pretty stupid today.
Only Thomas Müller and Manuel Neuer are left from the Champions League winning 2012/13 squad, and so are most of the players that followed. Robbery (Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben), Thiago Alcantara, Javi Martínez, Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba, Lewandowski – all vital to Bayern’s 21st century dominance — have left.
It’s been clear for a while that Bayern is in the need of a generation shift and it has now —properly — arrived.
Will the new Bayern generation be as successful as the previous one? I doubt it. It is like replacing Robert Lewandowski with one player – an almost impossible task.
However, I don’t care, and neither should any of you. It will be just as fun.
If you missed our Initial Analysis, Observations, Match Awards, or Postgame Podcast, give them a look for a listen: