Bayern Munich’s 2-0 preseason triumph over Barcelona only affirmed what we knew: Bayern are supremely dominate in Europe, while Barca are somewhat faltering behind. The opening goal of the match was a typical “Barca” type goal to concede, a poorly defended cross that was headed in by Phillip Lahm.
The game was played at a slow pace, Bayern gave some pace to the game with some slick passing movements that looked typical to a Guardiola side. Barcelona were evidently on their first pre-season outing, with Lionel Messi’s brightest moment was a narrowly wide strike in the opening minutes. Cristian Tello and Alexis Sanchez never really came into the game; Dante and Jerome Boateng kept them at bay as they both took their fine form from last season into the new season.
Barcelona still need a new defender, and Marc Bartara proved why he is not ready for the set up to the highest level of football while Javier Mascherano again showed why he is not a natural center back. Bayern’s second goal was well-timed and elegant, and it typified the dominant Bayern Munich and showed Barca’s defense pace down the wing with a quality finish from Mario Mandzukic.
Perhaps the only success for Barca was the performance of the youngsters in the second half, many of which have yet to make their first team competitive debut. They never got into a real rhythm, but there were flashes of talent, and they managed to restrict Bayern Munich for much of the game. Barcelona’s young keeper, Oier Olazabel, was another plus mark, with the 23-year-old looking comfortable for the most part, hinting that he could one day earn a starting berth. Pep Guardiola wasn’t wholly satisfied with Bayern’s performance, as a perfectionist there was still things to improve on:
“We still have to improve a bit in terms of our finishing. I’m happy with what we’ve done so far, but we still need a little more time.”
Although Guardiola believes the team are not yet read for the start of the season, it is quite alarming to think of the standard he can get Bayern to after a few months in the job. They still seemed sharp as ever, and they can only get sharper.
New Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino was absent for the game, thus it was perhaps unwise to fully evaluate the Catalan Giants’ upcoming season from the match. Johan Cruyff seems confident that Martino can emulate the success of Rijikaard & Guardiola despite knowing very little about him:
“I do not really know Tata. I hardly know anything about him. However, Rijkaard and Guardiola had not won anything either before they started at Barcelona and ended up being hugely successful. I have no doubt Martino can follow the same path.”
Only small conclusions can be made from the game, but Bayern look like they are set to dominate European football again this season. Barca were missing two new recruits, Martino and Neymar, and with them could be able to complete the dream team they once were. With over three weeks to go until the start of the season, there are things at Barcelona that still need to be ironed out.
Written by Jimmy Cartwright