Normality resumed for Bayern Munich on Saturday. The reigning Bundesliga champions were under pressure following a poor display against Hoffenheim on Matchday 1 and a trip to Stuttgart followed, facing a team they had struggled against in the past.
Arjen Robben replaced Kinglsey Coman in the only forced change while there was a first Bundesliga start for Leon Goretzka. The former Schalke midfielder opened the scoring for Bayern Munich in the first half in a team performance that set the tone for 90 minutes.
Niko Kovac’s side had dominated possession and although Stuttgart had troubled Bayern Munich last season, they failed to do so on Saturday. Mario Gomez & Co. failed to trouble Manuel Neuer while Bayern’s fluidity in midfield was too much for Tayfun Korkut’s side to handle.
Robert Lewandowski added to Goretzka’s opening goal, with the Poland international scoring his fourth competitive goal under Kovac before Thomas Muller put the game to bed with Bayern’s third of the evening, 15 minutes from time.
Thus, cue the departures of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. It’s safe to say the duo weren’t best pleased with Kovac’s decision to substitute them but with Bayern Munich already short in wide areas through injuries, it’s a wise one from the Croat.
Speaking after the game, Robben acknowledged that Kovac did make correct call as it’s in his interest to do what is best for the team.
“I’ve said many times: you do not have to accept the coach’s decisions, you can disapprove them, but you have to respect them, it’s not easy. Everyone should want to play, we need that attitude,” said the Dutchman.
“Everything is okay between me and the coach. As a player you only think about yourself, football is a selfish world, and the coach has to think about the team. We just have to deal with it well.”
Unlike other top European leagues, the Bundesliga unfortunately head into the international break on the back of just two league games, given they start their domestic league later than others. It’s something that’s been criticised in the past given it can disrupt teams’ rhythm, something that Kovac will be hoping doesn’t happen after their impressive start to the 2018/19 campaign in all competitions.
“I’m very satisfied. The 4 competitive games we have played so far have been good. The team played a really good game today, around 12:0 corners, lots of possession and good chances. That looked really good, I would like to congratulate the team,” said the Croat.
And perhaps they’ll be happy that they kept hold of Jerome Boateng after all the talks of a move away from the Bundesliga champions, with both Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain interested for most of the summer window.
With just one week remaining before the August 31 deadline, it looked a dead cert that PSG would land the Germany international but it appears as though the Ligue 1 giants were playing hard ball, despite Bayern Munich willing to sell their central defender, with Niklas Sule ready to step into the first team.
Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said: “For such a transfer to happen, many things should be taken into account, the other club should be serious. We didn’t feel this, the tactics of Paris were comical. No offense to anyone but you cannot do this with FC Bayern.”
It’s a sentiment that the defender himself agreed with but hopefully now the Germany international can get his head back in the right place after a summer of speculation.
If Boateng’s performance against Stuttgart is anything to go by, he’ll play a big role in Bayern Munich’s campaign once again. The 29-year-old looked like his former self, the player that became such an influential player for Bayern Munich and Germany and so surely Kovac must take credit for this after a poor spell under Carlo Ancelotti.
When the Bundesliga resumes following the international break, Bayern Munich are up against Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke in the Bundesliga with a trip to Lisbon to face Benfica in the Champions League in between. For this, Kovac knows that Bayern will need to hit the ground running once his players return from international duty, of which much of his squad have been called up to their respective nations.
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