At the end of last season, Jupp Heynckes’ farewell Bundesliga match at the Allianz Arena was ruined by party-poopers VfB Stuttgart. There was no repeat when the two teams met at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. FC Bayern made things look easy, with new boy Leon Goretzka opening the scoring as they strolled to a comfortable 3:0 win.
Kovač keeps rotating, Goretzka makes first start
After last week’s opening win against Hoffenheim, there was just some gentle squad rotation from coach Niko Kovač. The one enforced change saw Arjen Robben start in place of the injured Kingsley Coman, while new boy Leon Goretzka made his first Bundesliga start for Bayern, coming in for Javi Martínez. At the back, Mats Hummels replaced Niklas Süle.
There was an old school look to Bayern’s offensive flanks. 34 year old Robben on the right, and 35 year old Franck Ribéry, making his 250th Bundesliga appearance for Die Roten, out on the left.
With Goretzka accompanying Thomas Müller in the middle of the park, this was a Bayern lineup that signalled clear and obvious intent. Kovač has made all of the correct calls so far this season, and the Croatian was right on the mark once again. Might we have found the coach we have been looking for?
Stuttgart flattered in first half
The opening quarter of an hour was all about Bayern getting a measure of their opponents. Jérôme Boateng was penalised for a perfectly-timed challenge, and Mats Hummels was given an early scare as Stuttgart looked to press. But that was pretty much it from Tayfun Korkut’s side.
Robert Lewandowski was unable to get a good first touch on a long ball from Joshua Kimmich, who looks to have put his miserable World Cup summer behind him. The young right-back then sent in a terrific cross for Goretzka, whose ghosting into the box was reminiscent of one Michael Ballack. Unfortunately, his header floated wide.
As Bayern took a breather there was a decent but short spell of possession for the Swabians, and there were a few worries for Bayern fans as Ribéry walked rather gingerly to the touchline after a challenge from Pablo Maffeo.
Despite playing with ten men, Die Roten maintained their poise. The opening goal after 37 minutes was a work of art. A cute ball from Boateng picked out Müller, who after a quick one-two with Lewandowski found Goretzka on the edge of the penalty area. After losing his marker with a deft shift and feint inside, the former Schalke man found the bottom right-hand corner of the net with a sweet right-footed shot.
— FC Bayern München (@FCBayern) September 1, 2018
It was the least the visitors deserved, and Stuttgart must have felt pretty flattered to be only one down at the break.
Beautiful in its fluidity
If Stuttgart were poor in the first half, in the second they almost disappeared completely. Apologies if you did not actually see him, but Bayern ‘keeper Manuel Neuer was on the pitch today.
At the other end, it was always going to be a matter of when Bayern would score rather than if, and after that, how many. A blistering free-kick from David Alaba clattered off the post after 49 minutes, and Goretzka could have doubled his debut tally just three minutes later.
The chances kept coming. Lewandowski shot narrowly wide, and Hummels should have done better just moments later as another red wave surged forward.
When the second goal finally arrived, it was well worth the wait. Stuttgart must have had enough of Müller and Goretzka, and the two combined to set up Lewandowski, whose sweet left-footed strike fizzed past Ron-Robert Zieler. It was simply beautiful in its fluidity.
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) September 1, 2018
Whatever words of advice or encouragement Kovač may have given the Polish striker this season, it is clearly working so far. That is six goals in four matches now. Whatever I might have said during the summer, I take it back. In fact, I am happy to eat it all up with a massive dollop of Süßer Senf.
Müller wraps it up
Not long ago, doubts were being raised about Thomas Müller. Even I, who have been one of his biggest supporters for years, was beginning to wonder if Der Raumdeuter had run out of Raum to deut. Oh ye (and me) of little faith. Having set up the first goal and been involved in the second, it was only right that Tommy got himself on the scoreboard.
The first two goals were pretty to watch, but this was arguably the best of the lot. A mix of precision and clinical finishing. When Kimmich’s pass to Lewandowski was neatly back-flicked into Müller’s path by the Pole, it did not matter that the finish was fairly easy. It was all about the construction.
This was not the Müller who was fluffing chances last season. A deft first touch, and a cracking shot with his left foot that left Zieler with no chance.
— FC Bayern München (@FCBayern) September 1, 2018
There was time for James to come on and provide a few party pieces, but that was the end of the scoring. What was nice to see was that there was plenty in the locker.
This was a top drawer show from Bayern today. Neuer had nothing to do. Boateng’s distribution from the back was first class. Kimmich was here, there, and everywhere. Müller was back at his Raumdeutering best. Goretzka was like a silent assassin. Lewandowski just keeps on scoring.
I could go on.
Yes, it was only Stuttgart. Who were, well, rubbish. But to win titles, you have to make sure that every opponent is dealt with, and dealt with effectively.
This is what Dortmund could not do last night against Hannover. This is why Bayern win titles.
Starring French actor Jean Reno, Leon, known outside the UK as Léon: The Professional, is one of my favourite films. When Goretzka opened the scoring late on in the first half, I could not help myself.
— Rick Joshua 🇩🇪 (@fussballchef) September 1, 2018
Hopefully, I will get to reuse this as the season progresses. Let’s just say that I have been impressed with Goretzka for some time, and was excited to see how he would play for Bayern. He did not let me down.
VfB Stuttgart – FC Bayern München 0:3 (0:1)
– / Goretzka 37., Lewandowski 62., Müller 76.
Stuttgart: Zieler – Maffeo, Baumgartl, Pavard, Insua – Aogo – Donis (57. Thommy), Castro (78. Akolo), Ascacibar, Gentner (c) (64. Didavi) – Gómez
FC Bayern: Neuer (c) – Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Alaba – Thiago – Robben (78. James), Müller (80. Tolisso), Goretzka, Ribéry (77. Gnabry) – Lewandowski
Referee: Harm Osmers (Hannover)
Yellow Cards: – / –
Red Cards: – / –
Shots: 3 / 24
Passes: 324 / 664
Completed Passes: 248 / 599
Pass Success: 77% / 90%
Possession: 32% / 68%
Fouls: 3 / 8
Offsides: 1 / 2
Corners: 0 / 12