Bayern Munich beat valiant Leverkusen in Bundesliga opener | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 18.08.2017
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Bundesliga 2017-18

Bayern Munich beat valiant Leverkusen in Bundesliga opener

The Bundesliga is back. Bayern Munich bested Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 on opening night, but the visitors put up quite a fight, especially after the break. Carlo Ancelotti will not be entirely satisfied.

Bayern Munich 3-1 Bayer Leverkusen
(Süle 9', Tolisso 19', Lewandowski 52' pen -- Mehmedi 65')

Allianz Arena, Munich

Bayern Munich did the business in the first half, with Leverkusen center back Jonathan Tah saying his team "fell asleep" before the break. 

Two players making their Bundesliga debuts for Bayern, Niklas Süle and Corentin Tolisso, picked up goals. After the break, the all-new video assistant referee was called into action to check a penalty appeal from Robert Lewandowski. The spot kick was awarded, and Lewandowski calmly converted his own penalty. 

But Leverkusen fought valiantly, especially in the second half, and caused Bayern real problems going forward. The visitors finished the night with 19 shots, six more than Bayern. Admir Mehmedi, Karim Bellarabi, and especially substitute Julian Brandt spurned some excellent chances to bring their side back into contention in the pouring rain. Even in terms of possession, the game was dead even, with Bayern enjoying just 51 percent of the ball.

Former Bayern legend Oliver Kahn even said on ZDF television after the match that if he were coach Carlo Ancelotti, "I would have quite a few concerns" after the performance. Meanwhile, those looking for evidence of Leverkusen and Heiko Herrlich in crisis after losing several stars in the summer were satisfied only by the scoreline, not by the evidence of much of the match.

You can re-read our live coverage of the action below.


90+2' -- One last attacking hurrah for Bayern, but the attempted Robben-Tolisso one-two breaks down.

88' -- End-to-end barely even begins to describe this closing phase of play. Julian Brandt just missed a real sitter from close in for Leverkusen. Despite the score and the certainty of three points for Bayern, Leverkusen have put up quite a fight - especially in the second half.

86' -- Lewandowski clean through on the counter, shoots wide.

78' -- Lewandowski side netting, after a mistake by Dragovic to concede possession. Shots are ten-a-penny here.

78' -- Coman with a chance immediately, saved by Bernd Leno.

77' -- Sub Bayern: Franck Ribery off, Kingsley Coman on. 

75' -- Really strange game now. Leverkusen refuse to give up and are pushing forward - encouraged more and more by Heiko Herrlich. They're playing some excellent football, too. And yet, every time Bayern get the ball, a counter beckons...

72' -- Dominic Kohr heads a golden chance to make it 3-2 just wide. Chance came from an Admir Mehmedi free kick whipped into the box.

71' -- Kevin Kampl's on the pitch, and has been for a few minutes now. He replaced Aranguiz, who was booked for the penalty incident.

68' -- Karim Bellarabi with what a German commentator might call a "rustic" foul on Joshua Kimmich. No card though. But Bayern's right back is back in the game.

65' -- BOOM! Admir Mehmedi pulls one back for Leverkusen. 3-1 the score. Splendid team move from the Werkself, starting out on the left flank and ending with Mehmedi arriving down the right and blasting it in first time off the underside of Ulreich's crossbar.

61' -- Sub Bayern: Thomas Müller makes way for Arjen Robben. Ribery takes over the captain's armband from Müller.

59' -- Six shots to one in Bayer Leverkusen's favor this half! (And no, that doesn't mean a comeback's on the cards.)

1. Bundesliga 1. Spieltag | Bayern München - Bayer 04 Leverkusen (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Hoppe)

Nice weather for ducks...

57' -- Kohr to Brandt once more! Top reflex save with his feet by Sven Ulreich. Brandt's back-heeled effort was just sumptuous.

56' -- Great diagonal run in behind by Julian Brandt; Dominic Kohr released him, and Brandt fired just wide of the post. 

52' -- GOAL! 3-0 Bayern. Robert Lewandowski's first of the season, his 152nd in the Bundesliga, from the penalty spot. Bottom right corner, Leno didn't move.

51' -- VAR alert! The Cologne team's checking a penalty appeal --- and they have given it! Bayern have a spot kick. Aranguiz dragged back Lewandowski in the box.

50' -- Arjen Robben's warming up. 

49' -- Kevin Volland almost gifted a chance as Süle, Ulreich and Hummels make a horrible mess while trying to play their way out of trouble. But he couldn't get a shot away, hounded by Hummels after the mistake.

47' -- Two half-time subs for Leverkusen. Julian Brandt on for Leon Bailey, Aleksander Dragovic on for Sven Bender, who took that first-half hit.

46' -- The second half kicks off in Munich.

-- Players are returning to the pitch. After a rather lengthy, rainy break, we'll be back in the game shortly.

-- DFB President Reinhard Grindel trying to put a brave face on the clashes with fan groups on ZDF's half time show. Producers again show the "f--- you DFB" banner on screen as Grindel tries to strike a conciliatory note, saying he's keen to discuss the ultras' concerns. He also said that "refraining from violence" was "non-negotiable" from the DFB's point of view.

-- "Is it because I lied when I was 17?" Bayern's DJ has a sense of humor, playing "Why does it always rain on me?" by Travis in the extended half-time break.

-- The restart is delayed slightly because of the torrential rain. Restart currently expected at around 10 minutes to the hour.

1. Bundesliga | Bayern München - Bayer 04 Leverkusen | SCHWEIGEMINUTE Barcelona (Reuters/M. Dalder)

Players observed a minute's silence for the victims in Barcelona before kick off

-- Oliver Kahn, analyzing the game for ZDF, on Süle's league debut: "He doesn't even look nearly nervous."

HT analysis: At times, Bayern have been scithing through Leverkusen's defense like a hot knife through butter. Heiko Herrlich's side was lucky not to concede another moments after Tolisso scored the Bavarians' second goal. However, there have been bright spots for Leverkusen going forward. Admir Mehmedi and Kevin Volland might both be disappointed not to have scored before the break. Still, this has been quite a statement from the defending champions - especially considering all their absentees.

HALF TIME. Bayern Munich 2 - 0 Bayer Leverkusen. Goals: Niklas Süle, Corentin Tolisso.

45+1' -- Ribery's back on the pitch. And there's just one minute of stoppage time - despite the two lengthy stoppages. Guess the ref's no fan of the downpour either.

44' -- Franck Ribery is hurt after colliding with Jonathan Tah. If they were boxers, they'd be in different weight categories, to be fair to Ribery.

41' -- The rain is really lashing down now. Lots of fans ducking and running for cover, and presumably getting an early spot in the half time beer queue. Meanwhile, behind Bayern's goal, the terraces continue bouncing despite a few drops of water.

37' -- Sven Ulreich takes some Manuel Neuer-esque risks on his goalline, and he very nearly gets dispossessed by Kevin Volland in the process. The former Stuttgart man survived the scare.

36' -- Free kick in shooting range for Leverkusen. Wendell cracks it into the wall. As you were, gents.

30' -- After a lengthy break, we're back underway. Bender's headed off the pitch for treatment, he's clutching his midriff. (Lewandowski jumped into him, using Bender as his brake.)

28' -- Sven Bender has taken a knock in a clash with Robert Lewandowski.

27' -- Leno called into action once more. Ribery played Müller clean through, Leno got out quickly to narrow the angles.

1. Bundesliga 1. Spieltag | Bayern München - Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Reuters/M. Dalder)

Tolisso nearly added a second within minutes of his first goal

23' -- Bayern are rampant in attack. Tolisso just nutmegged Bernd Leno and almost doubled his money - the shot hit the post.

21' -- Ulreich called back into action in the Bayern goal, denying Kevin Volland from close range and a tight angle. 

19' -- 2-0 Bayern! Coco Tolisso gets in on the Bundesliga debut action. He heads home from point blank after a loose ball at a corner, cleverly kept alive by Arturo Vidal. For Leverkusen, Admir Mehmedi's refusal to leave the goal line played Tolisso onside.

16' -- Arturo Vidal with a rangefinder from distance. Well struck, but comfortably over the bar, and it looked like Leno had it covered.

11' -- Double chance for Leverkusen to equalize! Admir Mehmedi is denied by Sven Ulreich from close range, Bellarabi missed with a follow-up shot.

Audi Cup 2017 FC Bayern Muenchen-SSC Neapel (picture-alliance/dpa/S.Simon)

Two ex-Hoffenheimers, Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy, combined for the first goal

9' -- GOAL! Bayern Munich lead 1-0, and Niklas Süle scores with a back-post header on his Bundesliga debut for Bayern. He headed home a free kick from Sebastian Rudy. Bayern's first goal of the season, made in Hoffenheim.

8' -- Bailey, Mehmedi, Bellarabi, Volland... This Leverkusen lineup has four attackers but no natural strikers - the lack of a body in the Bayern box is reinforcing this point in the opening minutes.

7' -- Warning, but no card, for Levekusen left back Wendell after a foul. 

5' -- Corentin Tolisso stings Bernd Leno's gloves with a shot from range. The ensuing corner poses no real threat. 

1' -- A chorus of "Scheiss DFB" (let's translate that kindly as "blasted DFB") rings out around the stadium immediately after kickoff. Bayern ultras then unfearl a massive - and even more explicit - banner also addressed at the German Football Association. Read more on the tension between fans and functionaries here.

KICK OFF! Bundesliga 2017-18 begins!

-- A minute's silence around the center circle to pay tributes to the victims and their loved ones in Barcelona. Impeccably observed.

-- We have players on the pitch. Lewandowski gives a wave, Alaba goes all Churchillian with a "peace" V sign. Pop star Namika, aka Hän Violett, sings the national anthem.

-- Ball boys with a difference have carried 18 massive helium balloons, emblazoned with the Bundesliga club logos, onto the pitch. Leverkusen fans will hope theirs doesn't pop in the next couple of hours. 

Fußball: DFB-Pokal Karlsruher SC - Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Reuters/R. Orlowski)

Leverkusen crept past Karlsruhe in the first round of the cup last Friday, but looked pretty toothless in the torrential rain

-- Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich, on ZDF, before the game: "We will try to play courageously. It's a special game, the first of the season, and we want to show that we have become a real unit in the off-season."

-- Thomas Müller is wearing the armband in Manuel Neuer and Jerome Boateng's absence. Fun fact: Bayern are unbeaten in the four competitive games when Müller started as captain. However, they drew two of the four.

-- Just a quarter of an hour until kick off. And in an unusual treat for German fans, the game's being aired live on free-to-air public broadcaster ZDF. Meanwhile, Leverkusen fans seem to think we've been a bit too pessimistic with our pre-match Twitter poll. 

-- DW's Jonathan Harding is a little surprised that Julian Brandt's only on Bayer's bench.

-- Niklas Süle, the 21-year-old deputizing for Jerome Boateng in central defense this evening, got a shout out from DW's Matt Pearson, who analyzed the young Bundesliga talents to watch this season. Why not have a look? 

-- The lineups are in. Bayern Munich appear to be playing a 4-3-3. Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy will both make their Bavarian Bundesliga debuts. Corentin Tolisso is also making his league debut in midfield. 

-- Bayer Leverkusen's Jamaican new boy Leon Bailey gets a start amid the Werkself's many injuries. Looks like Bailey, Bellarabi and Mehmedi will be playing behind striker Kevin Volland in a 4-2-3-1. Sven Bender will line up alongside Jonathan Tah in central defense.

-- You could argue that tonight's game is not the biggest on opening weekend. Schalke and RB Leipzig face off on Saturday evening, in what's liable to be a more even contest among clubs with European ambitions. Read more on the new-look Schalke here, and here

-- Bayern go into the game without several key players. Sven Ulreich will be filling in for Manuel Neuer in goal. Jerome Boateng is still getting back to match fitness after an injury, expect 21-year-old Niklas Süle to start in his place. Javi Martinez, Juan Bernat, Thiago Alcantara and star signing James Rodriguez are all unavailable.

-- Leverkusen are missing club captain Lars Bender as well as young talents Kai Havertz and Tin Jedvaj. But Bender's twin brother, Sven, is likely to start - probably in central defense - after returning to his first Bundesliga club from Borussia Dortmund.

-- Bayer Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich says the team's aiming for a Champions League spot this season. There are few tougher tests of this ambitious target than an away game in Munich on opening night. Bayern have had their own problems over the summer, but bookmakers are still treating them as runaway favorites. 

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