Flexibility befuddles at Telekom Cup -- next up: Barcelona and Dortmund

Posted by Susie Schaaf

While the Telekom Cup doesn't mean anything, really, it's still a nice little competition against fellow Bundesliga opponents that gives teams a fair indication of how their respective preseasons are going. And from the results, one can glean that all is well in the world of Bayern Munich.

- Guardiola wins first Bayern trophy

Pep Guardiola used a combination of 4-1-4-1 and 4-3-3 tactics to first see off a hapless Hamburger SV 4-0 Saturday, and tournament hosts Borussia Moenchengladbach 5-1 Sunday; the lone goal against a Luuk de Jong penalty after a clumsy Diego Contento tackle.

'Gladbach keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen had an excellent match against Borussia Dortmund -- saving a host of chances against the Black and Yellows -- while Filip Daems put the Foals into the final with a last-gasp penalty against Roman Weidenfeller.

Dortmund came up on the right side of things in the third place match against Hamburg, with Jonas Hofmann breaking the offside trap against the Red Shorts for the only goal of the game.

But, we're not here to talk about those teams, we're here for Bayern. While many, myself included, warily watched a preseason where the 4-1-4-1 was being trotted out to sometimes confusing effect, it now seems the players have gotten a hold on the formation, and the results are stunning.

Goals from Jerome Boateng, Toni Kroos, Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Mueller against HSV; and then Thiago Alcantara, Franck Ribery, Philipp Lahm, Arjen Robben and Mueller again in the final match against 'Gladbach. This is all keeping in mind that Luiz Gustavo, Dante, Javi Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Goetze have yet to make an appearance on the pitch.

Lahm was moved into the midfield for the match against the Foals, and Robben was smiling throughout. I don't think I've ever seen Robben smile that much! In fact, everyone is smiling and happy thus far. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told FCBayern.de: "I really enjoyed the two games because we played not only successful, but also very beautiful football... It has been seen that the team has already developed a high level for the brevity of the preparation -- physical fitness and tactical footballing. This allows us to look to the future."

A future where "no one is guaranteed a starting place" according to Matthias Sammer, but it seems that so far, everyone is along for the ride. The lone hold-out might have been Luiz Gustavo -- rumored to be going to Wolfsburg for regular playing time before next summer's World Cup, but it seems there's been a reverse; the Brazilian holding midfielder telling 'Kicker': "I want to stay at Bayern."

Not content to rest on last season's treble-winning laurels, Rummenigge said: "I'm utterly convinced we needed something new after last season. I've been through it myself, in 1975, 1976 and 2001. When you've had such great success, you're naturally inclined to take it a little easier -- and that's an immediate step backwards! It's no coincidence that we won nothing in 2001-02, and played nothing like the fantastic football of the previous season."

If Bayern scored nine goals in two 60 minute matches, what might be possible in the two full matches coming up? Wednesday sees them face Barcelona in the Uli Hoeness cup -- sadly without Tito Vilanova, who was forced to step down for health reasons. That match is a precursor to the first competitive fixture of the season: Saturday's Supercup showdown against Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern is looking to defend the Supercup after edging out the same opponents in last year's competition, 2-1. And with Guardiola's tactical nous and the (new) flexibility of his first team, neither Barcelona nor Juergen Klopp will be able to properly prepare for what they might face in a Munich side that is ready to prove last year wasn't a one-off.

"Good," said Rummenigge, "Because I believe that it is almost no longer possible for opposing teams in the future to calculate FC Bayern."


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