Bayern Munich face little resistance in the seasonal opener against Werder Bremen.
1. Bayern start as they mean to go on.
Bundestrainer, Joachim Löw called it a “practice match for Bayern Munich” and it was exactly that, the champions effortlessly crushing Werder Bremen 6-0 in the season opener at the Allianz-Arena on Friday night.
A perfect start for new Bayern coach, Carlo Ancleotti: a gala performance, three comfortable points, Robert Lewandowski bouncing back from his so-so Euro 2016 with a hat-trick and clear signs that the players are adapting well to the post-Guardiola era, totally buying into Carletto’s more dynamic and direct approach.
As for poor Bremen, they were never at the races, nervous, careless, disorganised and totally devoid of physicality and belief. On the face of it, only a top-flight team in the loosest sense of the word.
“While Bayern played decently, what shocked me was the way in which Werder played without any resistance,” stormed German League chief, Reinhard Rauball. He would have preferred a contest. Shame he did not see one.
Coming hard on the heels of an humiliating loss to third tier, Lotte, in the German Cup, the good ship Werder already is listing badly and though club chief executive Frank Baumann, insists that coach, Viktor Skripnik is not under threat, the storm clouds definitely are gathering.
2. Schalke’s fresh start programme hits the buffers
On the evidence of his side’s 1-0 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, new Schalke boss, Markus Weinzierl has a huge job on his hands to bring back Champions League nights to Gelsenkirchen. In the first-half in particular, the Royal Blues were nothing less than a ghost eleven and could thank their lucky stars, they were only one-nil down at the break.
So many glaring inadequacies, not least the scant defensive co-ordination, ineffectiveness of the midfield holders, almost total failure to win second balls and lack of imagination and punch in attack. Using target man, Franco Di Santo on the right-side of an attacking midfield trident did not work at all, while many were perplexed that Weinziel opted not to start two of his principal summer signings in Swiss striker, Breel Embolo and on loan Chelsea left-back, Abdul Rahman Baba.
“I won’t beat about the bush, ” said newly-installed Schalke director of sport, Christian Heidel. “There’s a lot we have to improve on. “
3. Extremes of emotions for the top-flight new boys
Frequently pilloried for their corporate sugar daddy links, RB Leipzig proved they have heart as well as cash in their Bundesliga baptism, twice coming from a goal behind to secure their first-ever elite point in a 2-2 draw at Hoffenheim.
Twenty-three years after the city of Leipzig last had a first division team – VfB Leipzig in 1993-94 – a well-organised and courageous RB stood toe-to-toe with the Hoffenheimer and thoroughly deserved their 90th minute equaliser from Austrian frontrunner, Marcel Sabitzer.
No such happy ending, though, for reigning second tier champions, Freiburg, whose hopes of an away point at Hertha Berlin were agonisingly scuppered at the death. Most of the action in the capital was squeezed into five minutes of second-half injury time. First, Nicolas Höfler heading the visitors level. Then, Hertha substitute, Julian Schieber forcing home the winner from close range.
4. My bench is bigger and better than yours
Substitutions were the key to the late suspense and excitement as Gladbach edged out Leverkusen 2-1 in a Rhine derby fashioned from Champions League material.
With both sides maintaining an incredibly high tempo in baking hot conditions, the introduction of fresh legs in the later stages always was going to be a vital battleground and so it proved.
Act I: Finnish striker Joel Pohjanpalo equalising for Leverkusen just two minutes after coming on. Act II: Gladbach replacement, Thorgan Hazard setting up a winner for Lars Stindl with his first touch.
“It (the substitution) wasn’t just a lucky break,” smiled Gladbach coach, Andre Schubert. “It’s all about the quality of the player coming on.”
5. Uncapped Süle gets his chance
For the forthcoming international double-header – a friendly versus Finland in Mönchengladbach (August 31) and World Cup qualifier in Oslo against Finland (September 4) – Germany coach, Jogi Löw, decided to include three members of the country’s silver-winning Rio Olympic squad, calling up Hoffenheim centre-back, Niklas Süle, Leverkusen winger, Julian Brandt and Schalke midfielder, Max Meyer.
“Max and Julian already have spent time with the senior team and now we want to have a good close look at Niklas,” said Löw. “We’re hopeful that these players will take the next step in their development. They have the potential. The message we’re sending out is clear: the door to the national team is very much open.”
Apart from being a warm-up exercise, the Finland encounter also will serve as a farewell match for ex-skipper and midfield mainstay, Bastian Schweinsteiger. A nice touch. “Danke und Auf Wiedersehen“.