FCB's 'thoroughly successful day' in Darmstadt
No-one was really surprised by the stats from Bayern's 3-0 win away to previously undefeated Darmstadt 98 on Saturday. The champions enjoyed 81 percent of the possession, won the shot count 18-5, and scored three goals to their opponents' none. But for the first hour, the champions were obliged to put in a great deal of arduous work. "It's not easy to come here and win after playing in the Champions League," Pep Guardiola remarked, "I'm very, very pleased. We fought well."
Matthias Sammer could only agree. "We've seen important signs. The match was a question of mentality," the FCB sporting director said. "We coped well with their completely individual style of play - they counter-attack from a tight defence, and make best use of set-plays and the loose ball. But we were focused from the start." Sammer praised the team as a whole but also singled out "the guys who aren't usually in the spotlight." Indeed, in the absence of Philipp Lahm, Thomas Müller, Robert Lewandowski, Xabi Alonso and Thiago, responsibility fell on other shoulders.
When dreams come true
Joshua Kimmich for one. The 20-year-old made his Bundesliga starting debut and won plaudits for his positioning and crisp passing. "As a little boy you dream of playing in the Champions League and Bundesliga, and my dreams have come true this week," declared Kimmich, already familiar with Darmstadt's Böllenfalltor stadium from two pervious visits with RB Leipzig. "More than any of the others, I knew how tough it would be here."
A rarity among German top flight arenas, the Böllenfalltor is largely unrenovated and a charming throwback to a bygone era. "The atmosphere and the changing rooms are pure football," Guardiola declared. However, Sebastian Rode arguably knows the ground even better: he was born 15 kilometres to the south and played for the Lilies in his youth. "It's been a thoroughly successful day for me," said prodigal son Rode, who made a first start of term and effectively settled the contest on his own: the midfielder provided the assist for Kingsley Coman to make it 2-0 on 62 minutes, and scored the third a minute later.
Martínez makes comeback
Rode and Kimmich earned special praise from Guardiola afterwards. "Both deserve more playing minutes than I've given them so far," the boss said, "they've shown how good they are today." However, Guardiola was especially delighted for Javi Martínez, a 66th-minute sub who made his first appearance of the season and only his third since tearing a cruciate 13 months ago. "I'm extremely happy," Martínez smiled, "it's all good. There's been no reaction and no pain in my knee."
For the 19-year-old Coman, a maiden goal in a red shirt crowned his own first start for Bayern. "He's so agile and great news for our game," commented Rode. Coman joined Munich three weeks ago from Juventus, and Arturo Vidal, the youngster's former team-mate in northern Italy, emulated Kingsley's feat on Saturday afternoon by getting off the mark for Bayern after 20 minutes.
"I think it was a very good performance," concluded Rode after the Reds made it five wins in five Bundesliga fixtures this term. Fifteen points, as many goals scored and only two conceded is the second-best top flight start in the club's history. It is the product of disciplined team play. "We'll need every player this season," Sammer stressed, and ample evidence was supplied by the victory in Darmstadt.