FC Bayern – Arsenal FC 2:3 on pens (1-1, 1-0)
Bayern took the lead with a Lewandowski penalty in the 9th minute and got several more good opportunities during the first half. Bernat and James were denied by Arsenal’s keeper Cech. On the other side of the field, Arsenal had two good attempts, but Tom Starke showed very impressive skills and blocked both shots. Even though his career is technically over, Starke showed that he’s still at a level good enough for a game like this.
At the end of the first half, Bayern had 14 shots, six of them on goal. In a 4-3-3/4-4-2, the team was very flexible in attack with Müller as a second striker. He played his usual unusual game and while usually placed behind Lewandowski, sometimes supported build-up play and sometimes moved up to support Lewandowski in the centre. James stuck to the right wing for the most part, rarely moving inside – but when he did, he either created chances to score or provided spaces for Müller and/or Rafinha on the wing. Overall, it was obvious that Bayern want to move past the midfield quicker and use the speed of their wingers more effectively.
In the second half, it was James again who missed the big chance to make it 2-0. Cech seemed already beaten but managed to redirect the slightly too weak shot with his fingertips. Other than that, the speed was noticeably reduced, with Bayern creating fewer chances, and several substitutions on both sides adding to the reduced flow. Shortly before the end of the game, Sanches lost the ball in the final third and Arsenal made the most of the resulting counterattack – Iwobi scored with the final whistle.
In the penalty shootout, Alaba, Sanches, and Bernat missed their shots. Früchtl could save “only” one penalty, and Arsenal won the game on pens.
The upcoming season could be a decisive one for Juan Bernat. The Spaniard seems to have realised that as well, playing very convincingly in the friendlies so far, happy to run the extra mile and always at high intensity. In the game against Arsenal, it was his passing skills in the final third that helped Bayern create pressure on the left with Ribéry and Lewandowski over the first 30 minutes. Bernat’s attempt to score won Bayern the penalty for the first goal by persistently moving into the penalty box. Shortly before the half-time whistle, he also had a chance to make it 2-0, although Cech could block his shot. By continuously dribbling in the half-spaces, Bernat tried again and again to create destabilisation on Arsenal’s side, and was successful on several occasions. If he keeps playing this way, Juan Bernat will be a serious competitor for David Alaba’s position as left-back.
Corentin Tolisso could turn out to be FC Bayern’s best transfer of the season. It had been visible at the Telekom Cup over the weekend, and continued today against Arsenal: the young Frenchman possesses a willingness to run, good understanding of the game, and good handling of the ball. In conjunction with Martínez, he was at the centre of a very physically focused Bayern midfield, taking over the much more variable part. Tolisso kept moving forward into the final third to support build-up play from there. His goal after about 20 minutes was wrongly disallowed after he had pushed forward into the penalty box. At the end of his working day, when he subbed off after 74 minutes, he had the highest number of touches on the ball and his passing accuracy was at more than 92%.
Down at the other end of the field, Tolisso also won many balls for Bayern, reading Arsenal’s game very well. Compared to the weekend he also drastically reduced the amount of too-easy fouls he committed. If he keeps playing like this, he will be a highly interesting addition to Bayern’s team – and Alonso’s succession might be defined much sooner than anticipated.