Monday, August 15, 2022

Bayern Munich win DFL Super Cup as Sadio Mane demonstrates why he’s the perfect Robert Lewandowski replacement

It’s business as usual as Bayern Munich kicked off the DFL-Super cup with a 5-3 victory over RB Leipzig. The talented youngster Jamal Musiala opened the scoring in the 14th minute before Sadio Mane and Benjamin Pavard took the lead to three before halftime. Things ended up getting sloppy late on, as RB Leipzig got some goals to make this match look more competitive than it ever was.

Leipzig got a goal back via Marcel Halstenberg in the 59th minute but before Serge Gnabry got Bayern’s fourth on the board by following up Thomas Muller’s shot with an emphatic finish. Then a late mistake from Pavard fouling Dani Olmo gave Christopher Nkunku a chance from the penalty spot. Nkunku drove his penalty into the roof of the net inspiring Leipzig to eke back into the match. Olmo scored a goal to add to his bright cameo but Bayern were able to hold on in the final minutes to lift their first trophy of the season with Leroy Sane scoring quite a goal to put things out of reach.

It’s disappointing to see a comfortable 3-0 halftime lead turn into a close finish but once Matthijs de Ligt is up to full fitness, it should improve Bayern’s defense by leaps and bounds. More importantly, scoring five goals against one of their closest competitors in Germany is an early sign that as Bayern chase their 11th consecutive Bundesliga title, the team will have no problem transitioning after the loss of legendary striker Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona

With 35 Bundesliga goals to replace, one of the biggest questions facing Julian Nagelsmann this season is who will his go to goal scorer be. Luckily, he signed a pretty good one from Liverpool in the form of Sadio Mane. While Bayern Munich could still add another first team forward and they’ve also added teenager Mathys Tel, none of that would change Mane’s role much.

Starting in a front line that included Muller, Gnabry, and Musiala, Mane was able to float around the attack wreaking havoc on the RB Leipzig defense. His opening goal is quite reminiscent of a Lewandowski goal but Mane’s performance was just as much about the goals that he didn’t score. 

Mane latched on to Gnabry’s pass in stride and made things look easy. In the second half, Mane has three good chances, two of which were ruled offside. The first was off of a ball over the top the defense as he kept the play alive on the dribble beating Péter Gulácsi. It was quite close even though it had to be confirmed as offside by VAR.

Mane’s second goal that was ruled off was a cut back which he latched onto from Gnabry on the wing. While he didn’t get back onside quite soon enough, the vision to see what the rest of the attack is doing while he is in the box will be so important to leading the line for Bayern Munich.

Nagelsmann wanted a fluid attack as Mane can be used centrally or on the wing, he’s certainly getting that in this Bayern team. Replacing Lewandowski shouldn’t be thought of as much as a like for like swap but instead as Nagelsmann unlocking new dimensions for the team. A tactically astute manager, Nagelsmann now has different tools to line up as Bayern tries to secure a Champions League title. With the Bundesliga being an assumed title for the team each year, everything that they do to improve is to ensure that multiple trophies come back to Munich each season. Having Mane to keep things fresh will help ensure that happens this season. 

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