Finally, the wait is over and the Bundesliga has begun! The new season was kicked off by defending champions FC Bayern, who after an uncharacteristically sluggish opening swept aside a beleaguered Hamburg side who by the ended of a painful second half were desperate to get off the field and head back up the A9.
The Bavarians may have been slow to get off the mark, but a clear signal has been sent to the rest of the league as they look to secure a record-setting fourth Meisterschale.
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola made a number of changes to the eleven that had started against FC Nöttingen in the previous week’s DFB-Pokal meeting. ‘Keeper Manuel Neuer returned in place of Sven Ulreich, while Medhi Benatia, Xabi Alonso, Arjen Robben and Thomas Müller came in for Rafinha, Juan Bernat, Joshua Kimmich and Mario Götze.
In front of a packed Allianz Arena the home side found it hard to get going, and a Hamburg team beset with all sorts of problems on and off the field were more or less allowed to take things easy and stroll through the opening twenty-five minutes without conceding. The visitors would actually have the first shot on goal, but Lewis Holtby’s effort was easily collected by Neuer.
The pacy Douglas Costa offered plenty of threat down the left, but Bayern were seriously lacking bite as they looked to stamp their authority on the contest. With nothing much happening in the final third, it was perhaps no great surprise when the champions opened their account from a set-piece. A free-kick from Alonso was expertly floated into the Hamburg box, and fullback Benatia’s shoulder did the rest as the ball flew past the helpless René Adler.
The goal saw Bayern up the ante, but Hamburg managed to make it through to the break just the one goal down. Müller sent a shot wide, Adler did well to deal with a thunderbolt from Jérôme Boateng, and David Alaba was unable to keep a long-distance effort down.
If the first half had been slight disappointing for the home fans, their team gradually upped through the gears in the second. After Alaba had seen another effort turned away from Adler, Polish striker Robert Lewandowski pounced to double Bayern’s advantage after a weak clearance from Markus Ostrzolek.
With Hamburg unable to offer any real threat, Guardiola’s side slipped into cruise control. The impressive Costa continued to terrorise the opposition defence, showing a great deal of commitment as well. On sixty-nine minutes the Brazilian chased down a ball that he could have easily let run into touch, before sending in the perfect cross for Müller to make it three. Just four minutes later Der Raumdeuter added his second and Bayern’s fourth, collecting Lewandowski’s pass before rounding Adler.
It was now just a matter of damage control for Hamburg, and coach Bruno Labbadia could only look on helplessly from the touchline as his team was put to the sword. There was a sense of inevitability about Bayern’s fifth goal, with Costa capping off a fine performance with a beautiful left-footed drive from the edge of the box that was almost Robbenesque.
Nobody would have been shocked at a sixth goal, but referee Bastian Dankert spared Hamburg any further humiliation by blowing the whistle right on the end of the ninety minutes. While Bayern have got their campaign off to the almost perfect start, Die Rothosen look set for yet another year of struggle at the wrong end of the table.
FC Bayern München 5:0 (1:0) Hamburger SV
Benatia 27., Lewandowski 53., Müller 69., 73., Costa 87. / -
Bayern: Neuer – Lahm (72. Thiago), Benatia, Boateng, Alaba - Xabi Alonso (56. Rafinha) – Robben (65. Götze), Vidal, Müller, Douglas Costa – Lewandowski
Hamburg: Adler - Diekmeier, Djourou (c), Spahic, Ostrzolek – Ekdal (61. Olic), Jung – Ilicevic (72. Diaz), Holtby, Gregoritsch – Schipplock (72. Lasogga)
Yellow Cards: Alonso, Boateng / Diekmeier, Spahic