This week sees the return of the Bundesliga, following an interesting first international break of the season. All of FC Bayern München’s twelve legionnaires were in action, with one of them getting on the scoreboard.
Six days of football saw the start of the inaugural UEFA Nations League, as well as a number of friendlies. In addition to seven Germans, Die Roten were also represented by Poland, Spain, France, Portugal and Austria.
With Germany kicking off their season at the Allianz Arena, it was perfect setting for Bayern’s German contingent to ease their way back into international action after a traumatic World Cup.
Six of the best at the Allianz, plus one
A goalless UEFA Nations League opener against France saw six of the seven Bavarians in action, with just Niklas Süle on the bench. All completed the full ninety minutes, save for Leon Goretzka who was subbed off in the second half. After his encouraging start in Munich, it was a disappointing evening for the young midfielder. While Niko Kovač appears to have found the Goretzka formula, Germany coach Jogi Löw still has some work to do.
Both Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels had solid games in the middle of the German back four, while Joshua Kimmich was moved from right-back into a defensive midfield position. Despite not playing the role for over a year, the versatile youngster was more than equal to the task.
Thomas Müller had a good game, and is looking much sharper than last season. Again, the German coach may have to thank the new Bayern coach for that. Manuel Neuer was, well, Manuel Neuer. He did not have to do too much against a surprisingly subdued French side, but did what he had do, and did it well.
In addition to Bayern’s half-dozen Germans, France’s Corentin Tolisso also joined the home ground party late on. He had too little time to get into the game, but at least he could say that he was there.
Four starters against Peru
The draw against France was followed by well-contested 2:1 win over Peru in Sinsheim. Three Bayern players made the starting line up. Kimmich was retained at “six”, while Süle joined Boateng as Löw continued to shuffle the back four. Müller and Goretzka were both on the bench, while Neuer and Hummels were rested.
With it being a friendly, there was the usual raft of changes off the bench. Boateng completed a satisfactory first half, and Müller was introduced in the closing minutes. While he was not involved in Germany’s winning goal, one could say that it could have been inspired by his mere presence.
Just moments after Müller stepped onto the pitch, debutant Nico Schulz struck his 84th-minute winner. It was Müller’s 96th international cap, moving him ahead of Bayern greats Sepp Maier and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
The best of the rest
Tolisso did not get any minutes in France’s 2:1 win over the Netherlands, but all of the other Bayern players saw action in their countries’ opening UEFA Nations League fixtures.
Robert Lewandowski provided the cross for Piotr Zieliński as Poland earned a creditable 1:1 draw in Italy. Lewy has been in fine form, as he too looks to forget the World Cup.
A new-look Spain got off to a fine start, with wins against England and World Cup finalists Croatia. Thiago Alcântara played eighty minutes of the 2:1 win at Wembley, and came on as a second half substitute as the Croats were subjected to a record 6:0 hammering.
After more than a year, Renato Sanches was back in action for Portugal. The 21-year-old was twice off the bench as the Portuguese drew with Croatia, before beating Italy 1:0 in Lisbon. Renato’s future at Bayern remains uncertain, but his getting back into the international mix can only be a good thing.
It was a mixed international week for David Alaba. He scored his thirteenth international goal as Austria beat Sweden 2:0 in Vienna, but was not his usual self as his side were beaten by a single goal in Bosnia.