At the the start of the season, the visit of last season’s runners-up FC Schalke 04 to the Allianz Arena would have been billed as an old school classic. Instead, it turned into a rather turgid procession where FC Bayern München never needed to get out of first gear to maintain their perfect start to the season.
Looking back over the years, Bayern have been involved in some classic encounters with the Gelsenkirchen outfit. This was not one of them. Much had been expected of die Königsblauen after last season’s successful campaign, but their start to the season has left little to be desired. This continued in Munich. Domenico Tedesco’s side were, in a word, shocking.
Kovač rings the changes, Bayern score early
Despite the growing injury problems, Bayern coach Niko Kovač had continued to rotate the squad, keeping everybody happy. Niklas Süle, Thiago, Thomas Müller and ex-Schalker Leon Goretzka were in the starting eleven, with Jérôme Boateng, Javi Martínez, Arjen Robben and Renato Sanches all on the bench. Simple, straight swaps.
Three players were lining up against their former clubs, two for the first time. Manuel Neuer we all know about. Goretzka was making his first trip back to the Veltins-Arena since his summer move to Bavaria, while Sebastian Rudy was back in Munich for the day.
Bayern started impressively, putting pressure on their opponents right from the start. Müller had two chances inside the opening six minutes, and it was only a matter of time. After nine minutes, a Joshua Kimmich corner was missed by Rudy, leaving James free to nod the ball past Ralf Fährmann in the Schalke goal.
— Home Bayern (@HomeBayern___) September 22, 2018
What was nice to see was Bayern scoring from a corner again. They are firing them in at the moment. Has Kovač managed to do what nearly all of his predecessors failed to achieve? Is this a sign that the team has finally recovered from that long and painful bout of Pepitis?
After the opening goal, there was only one team in it. James went close again, a long-range free-kick from David Alaba clattered the crossbar, and Mats Hummels headed over. It has become something of a refrain, but Die Roten could have been away and clear long before half time.
After the break, James should have doubled his and Bayern’s tally. After some fantastic approach play and a smart pass inside from the effervescent Franck Ribéry, the Colombian missed from point-blank range with the empty goal at his mercy.
For a short time, it felt like one of “those” moments. Bayern failing to capitalise and press on, with an otherwise toothless opponent finding a goal out of nowhere. Thankfully, Swiss international Breel Embolo missed one of the very few decent opportunities for the home side just moments later.
As the match meandered on, the more it looked like Schalke were prepared to suck it up and accept a narrow defeat. There was little desire from Tedesco’s men, and this allowed Bayern to also slow things down.
Lewy seals it from the spot
After 64 minutes, Bayern scored their second, effectively putting the game to bed. A burst into the box from James was ended by Alessandro Schöpf, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. VAR confirmed the decision, and Robert Lewandowski hammered the ball past Fährmann.
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) September 22, 2018
Alaba again threatened the Schalke goal as another firmly-struck free-kick was beaten away by the Schalke ‘keeper, and the game rolled to its inevitable conclusion. A number of the home fans had already made they way out of the stadium before the final whistle.
On his 350th Bundesliga match, Manuel Neuer had another quiet day. He could have put a bed between the goalposts and had a long afternoon siesta. It was his thirteenth match against his former team, and Bayern have not suffered defeat in any of them.
Not for the first time this season, Bayern were once again guilty of getting bogged down against opponents they should have dispatched a lot quicker. Most of the time it ends up like today, but there will come a point where they will be undone by a freak deflection or bad refereeing decision.
In fairness, this is probably something that all big teams suffer from against opponents that offer little. The worst opponents for any good team are those that cramp their style. Tedesco’s side were not even in the game, and one can easily run out of adjectives to describe their performance. They had given up the ghost by halftime, the Bundesliga’s very own Norwegian blue parrot.
The visitors knew the game was already won even before Lewandowski had put his penalty away. Die Königsblauen had long since shuffled off their mortal coil. They had become an ex-opponent.
Bayern’s win extends their perfect start to the season. Kovač’s men sit clear on twelve points, two ahead of Hertha BSC. We only have three days to go until the next match. In the first Englische Woche fixture of the season, Bayern take on fellow Bavarians FC Augsburg at the Allianz Arena.
FC Schalke 04 – FC Bayern München 0:2 (0:1)
– / James 9., Lewandowski pen 64.
Schalke 04: Fährmann (c) – Sané, Naldo, Nastasić – Caligiuri, Schöpf – McKennie (54. Bentaleb), Rudy – Di Santo (65. Harit) – Uth (73. Burgstaller), Embolo
FC Bayern: Neuer (c) – Kimmich, Süle, Hummels, Alaba – Thiago – Müller, Goretzka – James (87. Renato Sanches), Ribéry (84. Gnabry) – Lewandowski (79. Wagner)
Referee: Daniel Siebert (Berlin)
Yellow Cards: Naldo 32., Caligiuri 42. / Wagner 90.
Red Cards: – / –
Shots: 10 / 14
Passes: 299 / 682
Completed Passes: 213 / 590
Pass Success: 71% / 87%
Possession: 30% / 70%
Fouls: 12 / 11
Offsides: 1 / 1
Corners: 0 / 8