3 things we noticed:
1. Offensive power
James, Müller, Coman – the three played together for the first time in the starting eleven tonight, and they were convincing. Combining Coman’s strength in dribbling, Müller’s instinct for spaces on the field, and James’ genius on the ball lead to great combinations and silenced critics of the James-Müller line-up combination.
The trio had a total of 203 combined touches on the ball, compared to 169 in the game against Mainz with Robben. Kingsley Coman showed yet again that his speed is an important quality, but this time, he also had a more active part in the rotation with Lewandowski and the other offensive players. Like last Saturday, he had fantastic dribbling statistics (won 5 out of 7).
The outstanding player in attack, however, was clearly James Rodriguez. The Colombian proved that he deserves the claim of being one of the best playmakers in the world. His quality in passing (86% successful passes), paired with impeccable instincts for making the right choice, showed yet again against Schalke. It was a first glimpse at the show that the most spectacular signing from this summer can provide.
Bayern’s offense has become a trump card again – and that’s only one part of the good news. It wasn’t only the high quality of single players that were high class in this game, it was also the combinations between them. Wild crosses into the penalty box, which had replaced short passes at the beginning of the season, were a much less prominent feature this time. Combining that with Bayern’s players’ enormous individual qualities meant noticeably more creativity and clearer chances to score. There’s no need to worry about Bayern’s offense (anymore).
2. Ulle eyes on Sven
It’s only natural that lots of attention is given to the replacement of what might be the best player in the team. The game against Schalke, therefore, became the starting point of Sven Ulreich’s era as Bayern goalkeeper after Manuel Neuer’s injury that will take him out for months. In more than one way, these 90 minutes were a showcase of what Bayern can expect with their second-choice goalkeeper.
Ulreich started with fifteen minutes of nothing to do (likely to happen again over the coming months), was then tested with a shot out of the blue (also likely to happen again over the coming months), and caused some insecurity (shouldn’t happen again over the coming months). He let slip a cross from the left without any pressure in the 18th minute and had to run out of his penalty box to clear it.
With Oczipka’s chance (22′), Ulreich first showed his fantastic reflexes but then got lucky when the second ball was ruled offside. After about 30 minutes, Martínez had to make a clearance on the line after a goalkeeping mistake. In minute 66, he saved a ball against Burgstaller, then managed to flick a header from an offside position over the bar shortly after with an impressive reaction.
Looking at the bare facts, it was a mixed performance from Bayern’s new first-choice keeper. Sven Ulreich has many talents: he’s one of the best keepers in the league on the line, his abilities in one-on-one are also admirable. But at the same time, he showed in the game against Schalke that keeping his penalty box safe and overseeing the game are not among his strengths.
A first summary after 90 minutes? There likely won’t be another Bayern player who will have to surpass himself as much as Sven Ulreich during the months ahead.
3. Rotation works
Some called Bayern’s formation “brave” ahead of the game – in Alaba, Robben, and Neuer, three important players were out with injuries, and Ancelotti left some more big name players out, putting Thiago, Vidal, Hummels, and Ribéry on the bench. However, the team that beat Schalke 3-0 impressively showed that his rotation works, not just on paper, but also in play.
It’s important to note, of course, that the quality in Bayern’s squad is so high that changing six players doesn’t have to be a problem. Despite this quality, however, the first games of the season were quite dire. For a while, it looked like Bayern was reliant, more than ever, on their individual players’ qualities. Carlo Ancelotti has managed to correct that course with his team, with the players on the pitch acting much more like a unit during the games against Mainz and Schalke, resulting in games that were easier to watch and filled with more scoring chances.
Rotation will continue to be important over the coming months – it’s therefore important that Ancelotti starts it early and keeps it up consequently, based on the lesson learned last season that it’s not enough to have eleven players in form for the later part of the season. “Brave” starting formations can’t be a problem, but should rather be part of the solution.
|FC Schalke 04 – FC Bayern 0-3 (0-2)|
|FC Schalke 04||Fährmann – Kehrer, Naldo, Nastasic – Caligiuri, McKennie (57′ Embolo), Goretzka, Bentaleb, Oczipka – Harit (46′ Konoplyanka), Burgstaller (78′ Di Santo)|
|Bench||Nübel, Meyer, Stambouli, Coke||FC Bayern||Ulreich – Kimmich, Martínez (77′ Hummels), Süle, Rafinha – Rudy, Tolisso (69′ Vidal) – James, Müller, Coman – Lewandowski (65′ Thiago)|
|Bench||Früchtl, Ribéry, Boateng, Friedl|
|Goals||0-1 Lewandowski (25′, penalty); 0-2 James (29′); 0-3 Vidal (75′)|
|Yellow Cards||Embolo / Thiago|
|Referee||Marco Fritz (Korb)|
|Attendance||62,271 (sold out)|