The season gets underway: three takeaways from FC Bayern’s workout in Cottbus
Every time FC Bayern lines up for their opening match in the DFB-Pokal, there are some who think it is going to be an easy ride. In some instances, this is indeed the case. But more often than not, it is far tougher than the pre-match predictions and on-paper match-ups suggest.
For Cottbus, the plum draw against the defending league and cup champions was like a cup final. Packed with a number of academy prodigies, Claus-Dieter Wollitz’s side played with plenty of discipline and heart, backed up by a vociferous home support than kept on going right until the final whistle.
Watching the match live on YouTube, one could not fail to notice the stream of negativity on the chat stream. Clearly, YouTube is overpopulated by the #KovacOut brigade. Rather than actually watch the game and taking note of the number of contributing factors to the scoreline, these keyboard warriors could offer nothing but the same old invective against the coach. It was mind-boggling and, dare I say it, disappointing.
Unlike last season’s rather scrappy first round tie against SV Drochtersen/Assel, there was nothing to be overly critical about. The Bavarians created plenty of chances, hit the woodwork in the first half, and had to contend with teenage goalkeeper Lennart Moser – on loan from newly-promoted Bundesligists 1. FC Union Berlin – playing out of his skin.
In the end, Bayern could have scored plenty more. But there was nothing to be to unhappy about.
The recent retirement of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry has left a massive hole in FC Bayern’s offensive arsenal, and for many the hunt for potential replacements has become the discussion point of the summer. Yes, the squad is thinner tham we all would like, and remains particularly injury-prone. But the potential to fill that hole is right there.
Kingsley Coman still has plenty of work to do to fill Ribéry’s boots, but the pretender to his countryman’s throne has the potential to make his mark in Munich. If the 23-year-old manages to keep the doctor away, we could see the start of something big. After all, he is now the number one pick out on the left.
Coman was a clear candidate for player of the match against Cottbus. Always dangerous, charging with bristling intent down the left, showing flashes of brilliance in one-on-one situations, and providing some dangerous balls into the box. He could very easy have scored a brace in the first half, where he was denied by Moser – only for Robert Lewandowski to sweep home the rebound – before delivering a lovely looping header that beat everybody and everything before crashing against the crossbar.
The French winger got a deserved breather in the 69th minutes, but not before he had scored the goal of the match. Having made space down the left, he cut inside two defenders before drilling the ball into the far corner. It was like watching Robben in a mirror.
Over the years, Robben’s famous feint, leftward drift inside and left-footed shot almost became a meme for Bayern fans (and football fans in general). We have already seen a few blockbusters from Coman over the past few years, but with more finishes like this he could create his own niche.
When Leon Goretzka replaced the industrious Renato Sanches three minutes after the hour mark, there was a collective groan on all of the social media streams. Not at Goretzka’s introduction, but for the coach’s decision to replace the Portuguese youngster, who had provided a more than noteworthy glimpse of his long-held promise.
In the end, Goretzka’s introduction was a key selling point for what up to that point had not been a particularly exciting contest.
Just minutes after his arrival, the Bayern No. 18 set up Coman’s blockbuster, and sealed Die Roten’s victory five minutes from time with a neatly taken shot that took a slightly unfortunate deflection off Lewandowski – giving the Pole a brace, but denying Goretzka a place on the scoreboard.
Even then, the drama was not over. Deep into additional time, Goretzka gently tangled with Cottbus playmaker Berkan Taz just inside the penalty area, giving referee Patrick Ittrich the perfect opportunity to award the home a side a consolation spot-kick. In fairness, it was probably deserved, given Energie’s effort and commitment over the ninety-plus minutes.