After conquering Europe last season, opening the next one with a loss in the German Supercup was less than ideal, as the changes both forced and unforced on Pep Guardiola seemed to take a lot out of the Bayern Munich we got to know last season, while Arjen Robben, one of the few players without a positional or role change, seemed to be the only one finding life comfortable under the new manager.
Looking at the lineups, maybe it wasn’t such a big surprise that Dortmund ended up winning 4-2, beating Bayern Munich for the first time after failing to do so five times last season. Bayern Munich missed Manuel Neuer, which possibly made the entire difference on defense, not to mention the mistake very early on that allowed Dortmund the lead the kept with a solid fist for 84 minutes except for a few seconds after Robben scored his first goal.
Max Starke was terrible between the posts, mostly in his decision making and his attempts to over handle balls with his feet, resulting in the first goal, and allowed Dortmund to pressure Bayern’s defense, which doesn’t look quite the same without Dante in the back four as well, as the Brazilian only took the pitch in the 86th minute.
Another huge change from last season which seems like it isn’t forced will be Javi Martinez. Maybe he’ll become a centre back like he played for Bielsa in Bilbao, but it wouldn’t be too surprising that Pep’s belief in possession football will lead him to see a lot of matches off the bench. Thiago and Toni Kroos in the middle didn’t seem like a good idea although it was their first match together.
No doubt not having Martinez and Schweinsteiger on the pitch hurts Bayern when you compare it to their perceived perfection from last season on offense and defense, but it was hard to understand what Guardiola tried to do with his offensive alignment.
Arjen Robben was excluded from the changes, and no wonder he was their most dangerous man, scoring twice off the right flank, doing what he does best without being irritatingly selfish. He’s been on fire against Dortmund for the past 12 months, but forgot what it was like to be on the losing side.
Mario Mandzukic played too wide for his and Bayern’s own good, resulting in a very weird match for him, in which he hardly touched the ball, and barely got a whiff at goal. Xherdan Shaqiri who got a rare start playing in a much more central position than usual, very close to Mandzukic, perhaps too close. Thomas Muller was used on the left wing and had one of his weakest matches in recent memory.
Maybe this new tactic was due to forced changes, and Bayern will look completely different once the “real” season begins. But Guardiola seemed to be tinkering too much with something that worked so well last season, and the “problem” he has with too many talented midfielders might come back to bite him if he forgets that there’s no need in re-inventing the way Bayern play.