Bayern take second straight Supercup
Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich kicked off the new season of German football on Saturday night in a replay of last year’s DFL-Supercup match. Bayern took the win and the trophy on penalties, 4-5 (2-2). It was the reds’ second straight victory in the one-match competition.
In 2016 Bayern followed up on the Supercup win by topping the table for 31 out of 34 rounds of league play. They were, in a word: dominant. In that same match and throughout the season that followed, Dortmund appeared to be a team with a great future.
So now that this year’s Supercup is history, what exactly did we learn from it?
What We Learned #1: Dortmund still have a great future
The best news for Dortmund thus far this year has been “no news”. The lack of news about transfers out from BVB has been excellent news in fact. We are now well into the last month of the transfer window and, so far, their lines are intact. Better than intact actually as Mario Götze has even started to play competitively a bit.
It was also not news that prior to Saturday’s match, Ousmane Dembélé received his award as Rookie of the Season for his Bundesliga accomplishments last term. That was a mere formality. During play Dembélé looked to have gotten even better. Quicker paced, more active, and more confident than last year’s version.
Dortmund’s great future shone as well as Christian Pulisic scored the opener after high pressing by he and his linemates. That pressure is something that new head man Peter Bosz has sought to bring to Dortmund’s near future.
What We Didn’t Learn #1: When will the future arrive?
Having a great future is…um, great. But when will the future get here? Bayern won the Supercup again yesterday. When will BVB start taking home trophies?
WWL #2: Change is not always a bad thing
For Bayern, on the other hand, the summer news has come fast, furious, and generally been of the best variety. James arrived last month to general celebration. Arjen Robben looks healed and rested.
Neither of those superstars played in the Supercup however. But Bayern did introduce a new presence at midfield: Sebastian Rudy. Rudy fills the gap left by the retiring Philipp Lahm. That’s not the whole story though. Joshua Kimmich is heir apparent to Lahm and, based on the run of play yesterday, he fills at least half of the same gap as well. The two seem to have divided Lahm’s responsibilities and if they can learn to complement one another that may make it even harder for opponents to match up with Bayern.
WWDL #2: How much change is good?
Despite their high profile acquisitions Bayern’s core remains a veteran bunch. One of the few “old guard” Bayern stars who showed up for the Supercup was Franck Ribéry. Ribéry has played limited matches and limited minutes of late. Last night, however, he showed himself quite capable of being the veteran leader on the field and going the full 90. He rallied his men when they were down and himself sallied ever forward. His side won. Is there room on the field for players such as Ribéry alongside all of the new “stars” in Munich’s night sky?
WWL #3: There is a substitute for everyone
The Supercup win in 2016 was a big one for Carlo Ancelotti. It was his first year as Bayern manager. His very first competitive match in fact. He was filling some large boots of his predecessor, a coach who had not been able to bring home the Supercup. Though last year’s win was big for Ancelotti, this year’s may have been bigger. It likely went a long way to answering the concerns of many of those who questioned whether he was a suitable “sub” for Pep Guardiola.
Of course, Ancelotti and the rest of Bayern owe a large measure of their 2017 Supercup victory to the Man of the Match. The win was ultimately secured by keeper Sven Ulreich. Ulreich’s handling error did set up Pulisic to score his opener. And Manuel Neuer’s back up was also chipped by Aubameyang to see his side go behind late in the match. True yet that in his final chance Ulreich did what had to be done.
And yet Neuer’s sweeper-keeper skills always springs to mind an old ad for Porsche cars: “Accept no substitutes”.
WWDL #3: Where is the finish line?
The founder of the aforementioned German automaker, Ferdinand Porsche, legendarily once said that the perfect competitive racing car crosses the finish line first and then immediately falls apart. Then you either change the design rules or move the finish line.
Speaking for all Bundesliga fans, I wonder…where exactly is the finish line for Bayern-Munich?
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