These days, two big names meeting in a preseason friendly does not mean much. In the summer, it happens on a regular and rather pointless basis. So it proved at the Allianz Arena, where a solid FC Bayern München did enough to shut out a Manchester United site that showed very little attacking intent.
Bayern’s “New” Home
Perhaps the best and brightest thing about the occasion was the sparkling new look of Munich’s Allianz Arena. Having previously been shared with city neighbours and rivals TSV 1860, the stadium had been kept neutral. Which meant grey. Grey walls, grey corridors, and that infamous grey seating.
With 1860 now out of the picture and languishing in the 3. Liga, the Fröttmaning ground has acquired a whole new look. Red seating, complete with the FC Bayern crest and “Mia san Mia” motto. The entire complex has been completely revamped and decorated, including an interior that now boasts images of great Bayern moments of the past.
Finally, after thirteen years, Bayern’s home feels like a home. It truly is inspiring.
World Cup contingent back
In what was the first match with this new-look, the Bavarians took on old rivals United, in what should have been a tasty preseason “International Champions Cup” match up.
For the home side, coach Niko Kovač had all of the World Cup contingent back. At both ends of the pitch, the two men touted as the best two goalkeepers in the world were facing off. Bayern and Germany captain Manuel Neuer, and United’s Spanish number one David de Gea.
Despite lacking a number of key men including World Cup winner Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard, United coach Jose Mourinho still had plenty of big names at his disposal. Sadly, his team did not live up to the pre-match billing.
On what was a steaming hot evening in the Bavarian capital, it was the home team that set the tempo. Thiago had a decent early chance, before new boy Serge Gnabry tested de Gea. Niklas Süle and Javi Martínez also created opportunities.
Martínez wins the game
The second half saw much of the same. Bayern continued to do all the running, with United unable to make any headway. Finally, just before the hour mark, Kovač’s men broke the deadlock. The goal was something of a Spanish affair. From a Thiago corner, Martínez headed home, beating de Gea.
Any thought that United might offer a little more after going behind quickly disappeared. despite a raft of changes from both coaches, Bayern continued to dominate. They almost doubled their lead with three minutes remaining, but Arjen Robben’s sublime finish was ruled out – correctly – by the offside flag.
In the end, the 1:0 scoreline failed to do the Bavarians justice. They had racked up thirteen shots at goal to United’s one, with the Red Devils managing only one shot on target. Possession-wise, it was a similar one-way street. The home side had 72% of the ball, notching up 728 passes to their opponents’ 290.
While Mourinho and United still have work to do, things are looking more solid for Bayern. Next week in the DFB Super Cup, coach Kovač is up against the team he left last summer, Eintracht Frankfurt.