Bayern Munich – Köln (22 Aug 21)

2021 European Apertura Top 25 (3 of 25)

Julian Nagelsmann’s first game in charge of Bayern Munich, following his summer move from RB Leipzig, was a friendly against Köln, who had needed to win the relegation/promotion play-off to remain in the Bundesliga. It was also the first game for Köln’s new manager, Steffen Baumgart, who produced a 3-2 win, albeit against what amounted to youth side, as most of Nagelsmann’s starters were still recovering from the Euros.

Bayern opened the season by dropping two points to Borussia Mönchengladbach, but a mid-week victory over Borussia Dortmund in the DFL-Super Cup suggested that things were back on track—until Baumgart’s Köln held Bayern scoreless in an impressive first half performance.

At the restart, Nagelsmann brought on teenager Jamal Musiala for a struggling Leroy Sané as part of a double change, and the impact was immediate. Having nearly scored his own goal off a Thomas Müller lay-off moments earlier, his dribble and deft assist set up Robert Lewandowski’s goal at the start of the second half. Just before the hour mark, Müller’s counter-attacking cross from the right eventually reached Serge Gnabry for Bayern’s second, and things seemed to have returned to normal service for the Bundesliga title-holders.

But almost immediately after the kick-off, Anthony Modeste headed in a left cross from Jonas Hector to pull one back; then Mark Uth scored off a lovely right cross from Kingsley Ehizebue to bring Köln back level within 3’ of Bayern’s “insurance” goal.

Even so, Bayern remained calm and returned to applying pressure. With 20’ remaining, Gnabry received a recycled ball on the right side of the box in the second phase of an attack and lashed it top shelf across goal to beat Timo Horn and put Bayern back in front.

This was the last time Nagelsmann’s Bayern would look shaky for some time. They would not drop another point until October, conceding only two goals the next seven matches (including a 3-0 victory over Barcelona at the Camp Nou). For their part, Köln would enter the winter break just inside the top half of the table, an impressive start given their limited resources. Tactical Analysis from: The United Stand (Baumgart’s Köln).

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