EThere is a simple method in a soccer game to examine the force balance between two teams. You don’t have to look how it is. But: where they are. On Wednesday evening, for example, the Bayern Munich players, with the exception of Manuel Neuer, the goalkeeper, positioned themselves unusually close to the center line in their own stadium before kick-off. As if they wanted to run straight away into the strange half of the game – like computer gamers used to go to the electronics store when the new “World of Warcraft” was sold there.
One could rely on the knowledge of the method in this game. In the second preliminary round match of the Champions League, FC Bayern Munich won 5-0 (2-0) against Dynamo Kiev. The German champions pushed the Ukrainian champions into their half from the first minute. Even the central defenders Lucas Hernandez and Dayot Upamecano were always ten, fifteen meters above the center line. That inevitably led to scoring chances – and goals: by Robert Lewandowski (12th and 27th minutes), Serge Gnabry (68th), Leroy Sané (75th) and Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting (87th).
On the way to the knockout phase of the Champions League, where the heavyweights of European football have almost always negotiated the title among themselves for years, some of them stumbled in the first 180 minutes of the preliminary round. On the first matchday it was Manchester United (1: 2 against Young Boys Bern), Atlético Madrid (0: 0 against FC Porto) and Paris Saint-Germain (1: 1 against Club Bruges). On the second then Manchester City (0: 2 against PSG), Real Madrid (1: 2 against Sheriff Tiraspol). FC Bayern has not yet stumbled, on the contrary. He danced in Camp Nou (3-0 against FC Barcelona) and now also in his own arena. One of the exciting questions of the Nagelsmann era – if this becomes an era – is which weight class the largest German football club will be classified in in the future. It seems difficult this season.
“We have a lot of fun,” said striker Serge Gnabry before the game. The Ukrainians were able to experience that too. They played with courage – and with short passes, even under pressure in their own penalty area. That led to the first shot of the game, after all. Viktor Tsygankov missed the goal in the ninth minute.
But then his strikers played the center of attention. Above all Robert Lewandowski. In the tenth minute, Dynamo goalkeeper Heorhiy Bushchan was able to steer his header over the bar. In the twelfth minute he converted a hand penalty caused by Sergiy Sydorchuk. And in the 27th minute he completed a quick attack that Niklas Süle (conquering the ball) and Thomas Müller (pass) had made possible. And dynamo? In the 41st minute, Neuer blocked a shot from Carlos de Pena with his fingertips.
In his first Champions League home game as Bayern coach, Julian Nagelsmann had decided on a back four in defense, which turned into a back three in attack. A trick from which Alphonso Davies (more space on the left) and Leroy Sané (moves a little in the middle) benefit in particular. It was Sané who was rewarded by the fans with “Leroy” chants after a three-way battle against two defenders. A few weeks ago they had whistled at him.
When Gnabry and Sané were replaced in the 79th minute, the fans were particularly loud. Because before that Gnabry had increased to 3-0 with a spectacular shot and Sané with an even more spectacular shot – almost from the outside line – to 4-0. That was almost a little unfair. Because Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting couldn’t beat that with his header to make it 5-0.