The keg is tapped! Lewandowski and Couthino drown Cologne
Compared to the game against Red Star, Niko Kovač rotated his starting eleven on some positions to give some of his players a rest. In his 4-2-3-1 formation, Joshua Kimmich reprised his role as a holding midfielder in place of Thiago, who sat on the bench. Jerome Boateng filled the gap in central defense with Benjamin Pavard moving out as right full-back. Ivan Perišić remained in the team, Coman dropped to the bench. Achim Beierlorzer also opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation for his team.
The game had hardly begun when Robert Lewandowski scored the first goal. Cologne’s pressing was off, which allowed Kimmich an unexpected amount of space and time on the ball deep in Cologne’s half. His pass upfield reached Lewandowski, who once again did not fail to score, making it 1-0 for Bayern.
Buoyed by this, Bayern immediately took charge of the game. Their next big chance came in the 14th minute from a free kick by Coutinho. His powerful topspin ball from a slightly central-left position went up and over Cologne’s wall, but only hit the goal post.
In the following minutes, the game’s intensity mostly subsided. Bayern could not manage to create any more chances while Cologne tried to find their bearings and fight their way into the game. Frequent changes of possession and a lot of small fouls were the game’s most noticeable features now.
Despite an inconclusive performance on both sides, Lewandowski had another big chance to score Bayern’s second goal in first half stoppage time. Coutinho played a “Beckenbauer” with the outside of his foot to Lewandowski, who was waiting in the penalty area. He got around goalkeeper Horn, stopped, took aim and tried to chip the ball over the recovering Horn and two onrushing defenders, but his attempt landed on top of the goal net.
Both teams returned to the pitch unchanged from the half time interval. Just as in the first half, it took Bayern only three minutes to score a goal. Lewandowski scored his second from a header after a corner by Kimmich, making it 2-0.
Martinez came on in the 58th minute for Boateng, who had been booked earlier and was at high risk of a second yellow. 30 seconds later, the game was decided. Ehizibue tripped Coutinho in the penalty area before he could deliver his shot. Referee Ittrich immediately blew the whistle, gave a penalty kick, and sent culprit Ehizibue off with a straight red card. Lewandowski, who was just one goal short of the record for most goals scored in the opening five matches of a Bundesliga season at this point, gave the ball to Couthino who coolly converted with his second attempt for Bayern’s third goal (his first was ruled off for invasion of the penalty area).
In the 71st minute, Kovač decided to give Kimmich and Lewandowski a rest and brought on Cuisance and Müller. Two minutes later, another perfectly weighted pass by Coutinho into the feet of Perišić allowed the Croatian winger to put his name on the scoreboard. After a surging run, he scored from inside the left half space inside the penalty area with a precise low strike across the face of goal for the final 4-0 result.
The last action of the game, however, belonged to Cologne. Neuer, who had had one or two shaky moments earlier in the game, went down to parry a powerful, well executed shot by Rafael Czichos in a world class fashion and proved why he still claims the top spot in goal in the German national team.
Bayern started the game on high alert, just as they did against Leipzig. They scored early, just as they did against Leipzig. And then they dropped off considerably – just as they did against Leipzig. This time, their dominance lasted but 15 minutes. Then the game devolved into a lacklustre back and forth in midfield marked by frequent changes of possession with neither team getting any sort of grip on the match. Many turnovers were the result of a lot of fouls which almost saw Boateng being sent off on a second yellow card.
Bayern’s game had little quality, but it was good enough for Cologne. Yet, Cologne cannot be the benchmark for Bayern. They still have not delivered a convincing performance over 90 minutes this season. Bayern’s win was never in doubt because Cologne were no real contest and Bayern secured their victory early enough. But they arguably could have closed the game much sooner if they had been able to maintain their performance of the first 15 minutes for the entire first half. This very failure to be clinical and consistent enough backfired just one week ago against Leipzig.
Lewandowski extends his festive form right through September. Our August player of the month did away with Cologne almost single handed. He scored the first and second goal and missed out on a third only by a hair’s breadth. And even though he was chasing a record and a hat trick, he kindly let Coutinho take the penalty kick for him to score his first competitive goal in a Bayern shirt. The Polish striker is so crucial for Bayern’s game at present that one may well dread the time when his current run of form comes to an end.
Even though Philippe Coutinho was already given a start against Mainz and Red Star, he appears to have finally arrived in Munich just in time for the “Oktoberfest”. He created seven chances in the match against Cologne, one of which led to the goal by Perišić, while another one was the well timed and skilfully executed pass to Lewandowski in the first half. He also had five shots on goal and won a penalty kick, which he converted himself. The Brazilian international impressively proved why Kovač has changed his team’s formation from the pre-season 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 with Coutinho as the central playmaker.