The 60th Bundesliga season has kicked off with a dominant display from the new-look record champions. Donning their purple highlight away kits, Bayern Munich marched into Werder Bremen and came out with a commanding 4-0 victory to usher in Thomas Tuchel’s first full season as manager.
Twelve straight titles? Let’s not speak too soon. But after a preseason of some tumult and uncertainty, the Bavarians look like they haven’t missed a beat.
The Harry Kane difference
Not five minutes had passed before Bayern’s new striker got on the scoresheet — and it wasn’t even the first flash of danger from the former Tottenham man.
A first-time knock on to Kingsley Coman in the box, just past the veteran winger was followed shortly by an absolutely lethal layoff in midfield that played Leroy Sané into an absolute acre of space — 1 on 1 with the goalkeeper from about a mile out. No longer Sonny, but Sané made it look easy, like a counter-attacking partnership already in midseason form.
By fifteen minutes, Kane had slipped another clever little ball through. Inside the box, flashing into the danger area in front of goal, Jamal Musiala held up just enough to prevent a tap-in.
All this before he’d taken a shot from open play.
Kane has instantly brought something different to this Bayern attack. For a season after Robert Lewandowski’s departure to FC Barcelona, Bayern had been crying out for an impact player at the nine. Now they have one, with creativity and goal-scoring in spades.
The striker interregnum is over.
More oil needed
It won’t be lost on Bayern fans that the scoreline hung at a tense 1-0 for an uncomfortable time — and that their prized new striker wasn’t getting a whole lot of service. In fact, Bayern’s attacks were often mired in the mud: slow build-ups, dribbles into traffic. Strange decisions in the final third.
Is it down to quality and tactics? Self-belief?
A thought that should worry fans of other Bundesliga teams: it’s just a matter of gelling together.
After all, Kane hasn’t been here for ages. These moments will surely get cleaned up as teammates learn better what to expect from his passes as well as his movement off the ball.
And Bayern really looked so, so close. Smooth circulation around the box resulted in numerous good chances from distance. Jamal Musiala, Noussair Mazraoui, Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich — all had good cracks at it. Alphonso Davies’ involvement from the left wing laid the best of the bunch to an on-rushing Goretzka in the second half.
The attacking automatisms? Might be closer than the more pessimistic among us will think.
Space and pace
Naturally, Bayern’s focus this season will not only be on a 12th straight Bundesliga title, but on a reclamation of Champions League glory. Against the toughest opponents, the Bavarians’ ability to turn and burn will be in the spotlight.
They flashed that aplenty. Kane’s first goal came in transition. Kingsley Coman’s turns, Leroy Sané’s runs, Jamal Musiala charging forward at pace. When they’re able to pull the defense apart, Bayern can show a dangerous set of teeth.
There’s a beautiful simplicity to the football now on display.
Midfield, defense in the spotlight
Leon Goretzka’s inclusion in the starting XI after a preseason largely featuring Konrad Laimer was a good sign of the German international’s continued standing in the squad. For all the talk of Laimer’s ascension and Joshua Kimmich’s move to the No. 8 role, both midfielders showed positional discipline.
With the versatile and marauding Davies and Mazraoui as fullbacks, it was much needed. A sign of what Tuchel will ask of his midfielders this season, as well as the involvement in attack he wants from the fullbacks on either wing.
The question lingers, however. When will Tuchel get that crunching defensive midfielder?
- Werder Bremen’s hugs and tugs on Bayern players were a good indicator of how far out of reach this Bayern team was today.
- Kane’s ankle is going to hold up, right?
- Vintage Thomas Müller moments as he showed — in just a few crisp passes and a decent shot — that Kane isn’t the only player with outrageous creative quality on the squad.
- What a splendid strike by Mathys Tel! Expect big things from the youngster in his second season in Munich.
Overall? Much more to enjoy than worry about. This could be a fun season for the Bavarian faithful.
What did you think about the match? Let us know in the comments below!