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Bayern see out break with a loss

By: Mdadisi Mambo On: 8:38 PM
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  • On his birthday, Bayern coach Pep Guardiola certainly longed for the earlier days of the Winterpause with Munich's 2-0 victory over Al-Merrikh and an 8-0 destruction of Kuwait SC. Instead, as the tune-up match to the Rueckrunde, Bayern Munich got beat down by Red Bull Salzburg, 3-0, in what was a wholly unsatisfying performance ahead of next Friday's tricky game at Borussia Moenchengladbach.

    In his postgame interview, Guardiola would say: "From now on, no more talk about whether there is a team that can beat Bayern. If you play badly, anyone can beat you."

    Bayern were without the services of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, and Guardiola would send out an experimental line-up with Javi Martinez at right-back to disastrous effect. You can't fault Martinez, really. He's not got the pace to play wide. And all things for the initial 45 minutes came down his flank.

    Salzburg opened their account on 15 minutes when Kevin Kampl released Senegalese forward Sadio Mane into space -- splitting the defence -- as he composed himself to drive past Manuel Neuer. A half-chance from Mario Goetze and Thomas Mueller would follow, but Die Roten Bullen doubled their lead as Dante caught Mane late in the box just five minutes later; captain Jonathan Soriano getting Neuer on the ensuing penalty.

    Sensing that things were not going well (!!!), Guardiola moved David Alaba to left-back for defensive stability, and Bayern would get a good look at goal only to be thwarted by a miscommunication between Xherdan Shaqiri and Mueller. However, Die Roten could not stem the Salzburg tide as the hosts added a third a minute before the break -- Mane leaving Martinez down the right and crossing to an unmarked Robert Zulj.

    And although Bayern Munich came out in the second half with more intensity -- perhaps finally trying to take this friendly seriously -- it would be all-for-naught as the world champions could never seem to quite get their head in the game. Mario Mandzukic replaced Goetze and Rafinha came in for Martinez, but Salzburg was still getting the better run of play.

    Mane went over the bar, and Soriano got a save out of Neuer, before Red Bull keeper Peter Gulacsi made his first save of the day from Mandzukic.

    Mueller was rightly called offside for what would have been Bayern's opener, before Boateng came in late on Valentino Lazaro -- Neuer saving Kampl’s penalty shot.

    And speaking of Neuer...

    He did what he does best, coming well out of the box twice in the dying minutes of the match, saving his defence from further embarrassment.

    It wasn't pretty, to be sure, but we all know -- by now -- that Guardiola is content to tinker in matches that he thinks are unimportant. And in the grand scheme of things, this was, after all, a friendly. Without using the word "complacent" -- as I'm more inclined to think of heavy legs from rigorous training in Doha -- one has to wonder of the psychological impact of this beat down ahead of the second half.

    Here's to a response like the one after Arsenal last season!


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