Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy bring first title to Bayern
Niklas Süle nearly got his first goal for his new new team this past Saturday night in Dortmund. That near thing came as a header from a free kick off the foot of Sebastian Rudy.
On that play the former Hoffenheim men looked exactly what they are: two brand new additions to FC Bayern Munich who already have a pretty good idea of what the other is capable of. Süle’s header struck the underside of the crossbar and appeared to have scored the equalizer. In the end there was a mad scramble in front of Roman Bürki and the ball dribbled across the line, later judged an own-goal.
Dividing Philipp Lahm
Bayern, Bundesliga defenders going into the coming season, lost Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso to retirement last term. Lahm was a roving defender who could come forward to secure the ball in the final third. He was also often the trigger for set pieces.
Joshua Kimmich has assumed Lahm’s position on the field at both Bayern and for the German national side. Kimmich can and does come forward but he is far more offensive minded than his predecessor when he does. The role of attacking half sweeper that Lahm managed so well could go wanting on Kimmich’s watch.
Enter Sebastian Rudy. Rudy’s contribution over the coming season will most likely look like it did last Saturday night in Dortmund. His characteristic looping setup balls look deceptively easy-going and non-threatening. But they too often find the feet of well-placed teammates to be down to luck. Rudy is much more comfortable outside of the box in the attacking end. He fits much better into the mold of the all-seeing assist man. It’s the same kind of vision that makes him a likely boot when it comes to set-pieces.
Ancelotti goes alte Schüle with Süle
Conversely, Alonso’s speciality at midfield was man marking on defense and coming forward to take set pieces (unless Robben happened to be on the field).
Though not the set-piece expert, Süle certainly qualifies as a strong physical presence on the back line with more than adequate marking skills. But in the Bayern scheme he will no doubt be deployed as often as possible as he was on Saturday as a classic far-post threat on set pieces in the final third.
But Bayern need…goals?!
The title on the line in Saturday’s match was not the most significant one that Bayern are chasing this year. And despite the fact that Bayern’s biggest rival stood in the way, Carlo Ancelotti in a way could be said to have tipped his hand with regard to his overall scheme for the coming Bundesliga or UCL competitions. In the end, luck and some outstanding goalkeeping from Sven Ulreich brought home the Supercup.
But to that point, this summer those two factors have rarely been enough for the reds of Munich. Bayern have suffered a string of defeats at the hands of international opponents so far this summer. Those opponents are exactly the sort that Bayern will face in the Champions League. Exactly the title that is now most coveted by the club’s followers.
Ironically the main cause of Bayern’s bad summer has been a lack of offense. Against Liverpool and Napoli they scored zero goals. That’s “zero” with a zed. The end result placed the club last in its own “Audi Cup” mini-tournament just the week before Saturday’s match.
Their record from the ICC friendly competition held in July wasn’t much better. Bayern lost on penalties to Arsenal in their opener. Then things got really bad. They lost at nil to each of the two Milanese sides in succession.
Carlo: Close to the vest or clueless?
Süle and Rudy are barely a week into their playing history with Bayern. It is still hard to tell if they play well together or if they’re just well-played together. Is it part of a plan or simply their familiarity with one another?
After such a quiet summer from Müller and Lewandowski, and with James still an unknown, Bayern faithful are wondering: is Ancelotti’s plan well-disguised or is it simply non-existent?
A week now…and counting…