Bayern Munich off to a flyer

As is tradition in the Bundesliga, the reigning champions Bayern Munich opened the season at home to a fairly new look Bayer Leverkusen.

The champions— who had a surprisingly underwhelming pre-season and really won the German Super Cup as a result of terrible finishing and defending from Dortmund— looked dominant and could’ve [and probably should’ve] run rampant over Leverkusen, coming away with only a 3-1 win. An incredible display considering the Bavarians had three new signings in their team, lost two amazing players in Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm to retirement, and were also missing other valuable starters through injury—  Neuer, Boateng and Thiago. Also missing from the team through injury was superstar James, who is on loan from Real Madrid.

Leverkusen’s new coach chose a fairly offensive line-up, which didn’t pay off as expected and the Bavarians were dominant in midfield having been allowed far too much space to run amok.

New signings, Corentin Tolisso, Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy, were in the starting line-up for Bayern and both Tolisso and Süle were able to notch a debut goal, while Rudy bagged an assist— Süle scored in the 9th minute, getting on the end of a Rudy free-kick and Tolisso finished off a corner in the 18th minute after a poor clearance from the goalkeeper sent the ball into the path of Vidal, who then found Tolisso with a neat chip to the back post.

Süle partnered Hummels in the centre of defence in wake of Boateng’s absence and looked impregnable alongside his countryman, while Rudy, Tolisso and Vidal made up the three-man midfield. Tolisso was lively throughout the game and linked up well with his new team-mates, managing to create a number of chances including one moments after scoring, which hit the inside of the post.

Sven Bender made his debut for Leverkusen alongside Jonathan Tah in defense but was utterly out-played by Bayern, and his new team was unable to get anything going in the first half, with the exception of a couple of chances from Mehmedi and Volland. After finally making it to the starting 11, Leon Bailey was a ghost for die Werkself and was swiftly substituted at the start of the second half for Julian Brandt, who brought some life to their attack. Leverkusen’s livelier second half efforts were rewarded in the 65th minute through Mehmedi’s belter after a lay off in the box from Brandt.

Also making it’s debut in the Bundesliga was the video assistant referee (VAR), which was called upon by the referee Tobias Stieler in the 51st minute to identify a foul on Lewandowski by Aránguiz in the penalty box.

Bayern looked thrilling and played scintillating football, all without key players. They look set to once again dominate the Bundesliga and make it six titles in a row. Their squad also has depth, which will come in handy in the Champions League.

Bundesliga 2015/2016: Opening Day

FCB_HSV_03_GET_140815.variant846x476It is tradition in the Bundesliga for the champions to kick-start the new campaign and on Friday, defending champs FC Bayern Munich kicked off the new season with aplomb, trouncing Hamburg SV 5-0. It was an impressive showing from the Münchner and yet another dismal performance for Hamburg following their DFB Pokal loss to 4th league team FC Carl Zeiss Jena. Bayern and fans alike should be extremely pleased about the team’s business so far this transfer window and the performances of their new and returning players, particularly that of Douglas Costa. His presence in the team has been refreshing and means that Ribery’s prolonged injury problems and Robben’s propensity to pick up knocks means the Bavarians have a more than capable winger to cover any such absences. If his form continues, one can even assume the Brazilian will in fact nab the starting role from either man. He was very lively in his first Bundesliga outing, scoring the final goal in his team’s rout, providing the assist on one of Müller’s goals and had a hand in the many chances Bayern created.

On Saturday, we got to see the two newcomers, FC Ingolstadt 04 and SV Darmstadt 98. Both teams played impressively well, holding their own against Bundesliga veterans FSV Mainz 05 and Hannover 96. Ingolstadt came away with the biggest upset on the day defeating the Mainzer 1-0 with Hinterseer scoring the club’s historic first Bundesliga goal in the 66th minute, a beautifully curved shot into the right corner of the goal from just inside the box. Darmstadt, providing the most exciting game on the day, had the pacey winger/striker Heller to thank for their point in the season opener, after he ran the length of the field on a counter, turning a defender out and then curling one into the top corner to give his team the lead. However, Hannover equalised in the second half through Benschop but that lead wouldn’t last long as Heller sneaked in to steal the ball from Albornoz just outside the box, rounded the keeper and slotted the ball home to hand his side a temporary lead, which was cancelled out minutes later by a Sulu own goal. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. A good start for the newly promoted team from Darmstadt and surely Marco Sailer’s beard has continued to bring The Lilies luck.

FC Schalke 04, previously on a winless streak in their last five season openers, managed to put a hurting on SV Werder Bremen in the Weserstadion. The most beautiful goal (and the opener) came from Gabriel Selassie, albeit an own goal. Choupo-Moting and Huntelaar scored the other goals. Many doubted the competence of the new coach, André Breitenreiter, who coached the relegated SC Paderborn 07 last season. It’s still early days but he has, however, proved that he just might know what he is doing as the Königsblauen have now scored eight goals in their first two official games. The setup of Geis, Draxler, Goretzka and Choupo-Moting is proving to be a dazzling and strong midfield for The Royal Blues and an astute decision from Breitenreiter as it provides the team from Gelsenkirchen with a wonderful balance in midfield when going forward and defending. Goretzka playing as a box-to-box midfielder, whose fantastic eye for goal, finishing and passing capabilities provides them with plenty in offence, while in defence, he can pull out a tackle that can stop the opposition in their tracks. Meanwhile, his partner Geis brings a powerful long-range strike, free-kick proficiency and defensive class. The pairing has so far been lucrative, as Schalke has yet to concede a goal in competitive play and has exploded offensively.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen, another team with talented young players, got their season off to a winning start by defeating a new-look, Firmino-less TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, 2-1. Newcomer and former Hamburg wunderkind Jonathan Tah got his first start for Bayer 04 alongside former Schalke man Papadopoulos in the middle of defence; both playing very well. Hoffenheim managed to open the scoring in the fifth minute of play through the Swiss, Zuber; Wendel played him onside after a clever pass through the middle from Polanski. However, Kießling would equalise for the home side tucking away the rebound after a save from Baumann on Wendel’s shot from outside the box. It was a save that Baumann should have done better with but instead palmed the ball straight down the middle into the feet of Kießling; an elementary goalkeeping error. Up and coming star Julian Brandt scored the all-important winning goal in the 71st minute. The team from Leverkusen played well and had some great chances throughout the game; and while Hoffenheim didn’t play too badly, they did enough that if the game had ended in a draw, they would’ve still deserved the point.

In the other early game on Saturday, Hertha Berlin SC scraped a 1-0 win over Augsburg thanks to Kalou’s effort from the spot after being clumsily tackled by Klavan. It was a game in which a player from either side was sent off: Augsburg’s Bobadilla on the stroke of half-time, picking up a silly second yellow for recklessly diving into a challenge and Berlin’s Roy Beerens picking up his second yellow in the 66th minute for a silly foul on Feulner.

In Saturday’s final game and the top-game of the week, BVB Dortmund obliterated Borussia Mönchengladbach, scoring three goals in the first 32 minutes: Kagawa’s pass found Reus in the box and after a little trickery to beat his marker he fired a shot beating the goalkeeper at his near post. Seven minutes later, Aubamenyang would head in Schmelzer’s accurate cross and ten minutes after, Kagawa sprang a counter attack threading the ball through for Aubamenyang, whose fine pace beat the defender before he unselfishly squared the ball past the onrushing keeper for Mkhitaryan, who blasted the ball into an empty net. Dortmund started the second half the same way they did the first scoring their fourth in the 51st minute again on the counter; Kagawa laying the ball off for Reus, who speeds down the right flank before cutting the ball back to Mkhitaryan, who once more hit the ball into an empty net. The movement of the attacking players caused Gladbach all sorts of trouble and the likes of Reus, Mkyhitaryan, Aubameyang and Kagawa were incredibly difficult to contain. Apart from the aforementioned players, another standout for the Schwarzengelb was youngster and new signing Julian Weigl. The 19-year-old had an outstanding game in midfield, helping to control the game alongside Gündogan and stifling any attack Gladbach threw at his team. Coming from playing in the second league with 1860 Munich, he handled himself with the equanimity of a seasoned Bundesliga player and the Dortmund fans should be justly excited about him and his future in their team. Additionally, Bürki looks like a good replacement for Weidenfeller despite an early hesitation that could have led to a goal for Gladbach in the opening minutes of the game. For a team playing in the Champions League next season, it was a very disappointing start to the season for Gladbach; they looked lackadaisical in defence and clueless going forward and if they intend to play like this in Europe, the fans should be worried. As for Dortmund? They seemed to have found their footing again under Tuchel and though it’s early days, they look an exciting team once more.

There are two more games left to play in match day one and will take place on Sunday. VFL Wolfsburg will take on Eintracht Frankfurt at home and 1. FC Köln travels to VFB Stuttgart.