Plenty to ponder for Pep despite winning Bundesliga debut

It had been positively hosing it down in Munich all day. This did little to dampen the spirits of an expectant Bayern crowd, who turned up to witness Pep Guardiola’s Bundesliga debut. Have you heard there is a new sheriff in town? You might have heard in dispatches somewhere – his name Pep Guardiola. However, the Bayern side that took to the field was still very much Jupp Heynckes’s team. Thiago – Pep’s must have player already finding time to pick up an untimely bout of man flu, whilst the Bavarians also had to make do without another expensive signing in Mario Götze. €37m thank you very much.

After about fifteen minutes of this entertaining opening jaunt I thought the clever thing to do, whilst bleeting on about time and deadline constraints would have been to regurgitate the brunt of my copy from any of Bayern’s 29 league victories (from 34 games) during their all-conquering treble-winning season under that man Heynckes last time around. Copy/paste is your friend. No-one (apart from my editor) would notice right.

For the record, Bayern did emerge 3-1 victors against a gallant Gladbach side, with the scorers’ familiar in the guise of Arjen Robben and Mario Mandzukic in the opening quarter, and the Austrian David Alaba sealing the three points with a cool penalty with twenty minutes to play. But that only tells half the story.

Leading 2-0 with 75 minutes to play last season would have been game over under Heynckes. I could have normally safely reached for that copy paste function. But this Bayern side (as we saw in the Super Cup defeat against Dortmund) has a soft under belly, particular at the back. Teething problems for Pep to get his teeth into. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer had to be at his best to deny Max Kruse with a smart reflex save before Dante’s blackout own-goal gave the visitors a lifeline just before half time.

Second half became the literal end-to-end battle. Jupp would never have stood for this. The statistics tell that Bayern had 26 shots on goal but the visitors were always a threat on the break, whilst relying on their own brilliant goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen to keep Bayern at bay.

Just when it was getting interesting and only the away fans were audible, enter Borussia defender Alvaro Dominguez, who can consider himself either very foolish or very unlucky. Either way the Spaniard conceded two penalties in a minute. Double trouble. Ter Stegen remarkably saved the first from Thomas Müller but the Spaniard handled the rebound under pressure from Robben. Alaba slotted home, restoring Bayern’s 2 goal cushion and ultimately the three points for Pep on his Bundesliga debut.

Meanwhile in Westphalia, Herr Klopp was making mental notes of the current fragility of this Bayern backline….

FC Bayern Munich 3-1 Borussia Mönchengladbach

Goals: 1-0 Robben (12’), 2-0 Mandzukic (15’) 2-1 Dante (Own goal) (40’) 3-1 Alaba 69’

Bayern Munich

Neuer – Lahm, Dante, Alaba, Boateng – Kroos (Martinez 85‘), Schweinsteiger (Kirchhoff 73‘), Robben, T. Müller (Rafinha 77‘), Ribery, Mandzukic

Borussia Mönchengladbach

ter Stegen – Jantschke, Stranzl, Alvaro Dominguez, Daems – Kramer (de Jong 85‘), G. Xhaka – Herrmann (Hrgota 70‘), Arango (Younes 70‘) – Raffael, M. Kruse

Attendance: 71,137 sell out

Yellows – Kramer, Stranzl, Dominguez, Mandzukic

Referee: Tobias Welz

Match report originally published at MunichNow

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Mark Lovell

Mark is an English freelance bilingual writer, living and working in Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Interact via Email or follow me on twitter @LovellLowdown and check out my site at www.lovelllowdown.com

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