presented by
Thiago on target

Slick FCB cruise to Telekom Cup triumph

The Bundesliga restart fixture on 9 August features Bayern at home to long-standing rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach, and FCB made sure of the psychological edge with an impressive 5-1 victory over Lucien Favre’s side on Sunday to claim the traditional pre-season Telekom Cup for the first time in their history. Franck Ribery, Philipp Lahm and Thiago scored first-half goals in front of a 44,000 crowd at Borussia Park, and although Luuk de Jong pulled one back from the spot, Arjen Robben restored the three-goal lead 11 minutes after half-time and Thomas Müller rounded off the scoring with the last kick of the game to seal an emphatic victory.

However, with the result only a secondary consideration at this stage of pre-season, the most significant aspect to the 60-minute encounter was boss Pep Guardiola’s tactical experimentation, as the new Munich maestro sent out a starting line-up lacking a recognised striker and with captain Lahm in midfield.

In sweltering temperatures more reminiscent of his home country, the Spanish coach again picked Tom Starke in goal, but otherwise made four changes to the side which beat Hamburg 4-0 in Saturday’s semi-final. The back four comprised Rafinha, Daniel van Buyten, Jerome Boateng and Diego Contento, with Lahm starting on the right side of midfield, Thiago in the holding role, Toni Kroos in the centre, Robben and Ribery out wide, and Müller in a role more akin to a false nine than a conventional central striker.

Just as in the semi-final, Bayern‘s passing was crisp and movement fluid, although the first half-chance on five minutes fell to the hosts: Patrick Herrmann set up de Jong but the Dutchman dallied and the FCB defence cleared. Juan Arango volleyed wide, but at the other end Kroos’ rasping drive was inches too high, Müller’s shot was blocked for a corner, and Van Buyten’s header went wide.

The treble winners took the lead in the 17th minute when Ribery stole in behind the Gladbach defence and directed a volley past home keeper Christopher Heimeroth from Robben’s floated cross. Lahm doubled the advantage with a bobbling finish on 23 minutes after Heimeroth could only push away a Müller drive, before Guardiola’s men appeared to have settled the issue before half-time when Thiago stooped to chest home a superb curling cross from Boateng. It was a first goal in a Bayern shirt for the star summer signing, and a superbly taken one too.

FCB seemed home and dry, but Gladbach were awarded a penalty on 29 minutes when Contento fouled Herrmann, and de Jong kept the contest alive by sending Starke the wrong way with the last kick before the break to make it 3-1. David Alaba took over from Contento for the second 30 minutes as the teams sparred for a spell, before Ribery swung over an inch-perfect cross on 41 minutes for Robben to head over the line and make the score 4-1.

Guardiola made four changes for the last few minutes and the flow suffered a little as the players wilted in the heat, but there was still time for Müller to set the seal on a comprehensive victory with the last kick of the game: the Germany man stabbed home from close range after another stunning exchange between joint men of the match Ribery and Robben.

Chris Hamley reporting from Borussia Park for