Bayern Munich recovered from one of their most underwhelming starts to a Bundesliga season in recent times to bulldoze past the finish line as they dropped a meagre two points in the second half of the previous campaign. In the process, the Bavarian giants lifted their eighth consecutive Meisterchale.
The icing on the cake was a sixth triumph in the Champions League that made Bayern Munich only the second club in history to win a continental treble on multiple occasions. With their Champions League win, the 29-time Bundesliga champions made it a whopping 25 wins in 26 matches in all competitions this year.
Bayern Munich seemingly started the new season from where they had left off in the last one as the Bavarian giants scored eight unanswered goals past Schalke to notch up the biggest opening-day win in Bundesliga history. New signing Leroy Sane notched up a goal and two assists to make it a memorable debut.
Manager Hansi Flick expectedly continued with his 4-2-3-1 formation from last season as Sane and Serge Gnabry started either side of Thomas Muller in a three-man midfield behind the prolific Robert Lewandowski. Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka featured as the two holding midfielders in front of a four-man defence.
It makes sense for Flick to continue with his predecessor's formation, albeit with a few tweaks that have lent bite to the Bayern Munich attack that has now plundered 83 goals in 25 Bundesliga games at a fabulous average of 3.32 goals per game.
One of the biggest changes from the Kovac era, however, has been the return of Thomas Muller to the Bayern Munich starting XI. Muller is a man reborn under Flick as he responded with 21 assists last season and has commenced the new campaign with a goal and an assist.
However, a series of players who were played out of their preferred positions under Kovac have continued to do so under Flick.
French centre-back Benjamin Pavard now plays as a right-back. Left-back David Alaba has transitioned to the centre of defence, with Canadian sensation Alphonso Davies, who prefers to play as a winger or in attacking midfield, taking up the Belgian's preferred position. 'Former' right-back Joshua Kimmich continues to develop in a central midfield role.
The coming of age of Leon Goretzka cannot be ignored as well, and it is evident in the player's increased involvement in goal-contributions despite operating from a deep midfield position. Interestingly, Goretzka scored against his former club Schalke in Bayern Munich's 2020-21 Bundesliga opener.
Up front, Lewandowski has continued to do what he does best; his 34 Bundesliga goals last season represented exactly 34% of Bayern Munich's goal-tally in the competition last season. While Serge Gnabry prospered on the right wing, new signing Sane hit the ground running on the other flank, a position where Bayern Munich fielded Kinglsey Coman, Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Perisic last season.
Bayern Munich's probable lineup in 2020-21
Assuming that there aren't any major arrivals before the transfer window closes, Hansi Flick seems to have a fairly settled line-up for the 2020-21 season.
One of the finest ball-playing goalkeepers in the world, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who kept a league-high 15 clean sheets last season, is a certainty in the Bayern Munich starting XI.
The injured David Alaba should return and continue his burgeoning centre-back partnership with Niklas Sule; Jerome Boateng started against Schalke in the Belgian's absence.
Similarly, at left-back, the injured Alphonso Davies is likely to replace Lucas Hernandez, who featured in the game with Schalke. Of course, the 2018 World Cup-winning Frenchman's versatility allows him to also be deployed in the centre of defence, should one of Flick's first-choice defensive players get injured.
The double midfield pivot should see the pair of Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich play more often than not, The attack-minded former Schalke player's ability to do a double shift by shoring up the attack and tracking back to help out his defence lends much-needed solidity to Bayern Munich.
In the attacking-third, Lewandowski, Gnabry and Sane could form one of the most fearsome tridents in world football as both wide men are known to chip in with goals and assists aplenty.
Even without any more additions this summer, Bayern Munich already look like a formidable unit and seem to have all bases covered. The season is a long one, though, and there would be tougher opponents and games than the one against Schalke. However, Bayern Munich have laid down the gauntlet for opponents in Germany and abroad.
Considering the personnel at their disposal, coupled with manager Hansi Flick's tactical nous, the Bavarian giants would need some stopping.Published 19 Sep 2020, 06:01 IST