Julian Nagelsmann took another step towards proving he belongs as Bayern Munich coach by doing what Bayern Munich coaches do, beating recent title rivals RB Leipzig.
Saturday’s 4-1 win means Bayern have won seven and lost just one of the meetings between the two sides, with Bavarian wins often pouring cold water on title hopes from the east.
It may be too early in the season to do that this time round, but a Robert Lewandowski penalty and a brilliant second half display from Jamal Musiala that saw him score and set up Leroy Sane within nine minutes allowed the champions to open up a seven point gap on their opponents, despite a Leipzig fightback. Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting wrapped things up in stoppage time.
“The special thing about him is that for all his skill on the ball he has such a great character,” said Thomas Müller of Musiala after the game. “He’s humble. To have that full package at such a young age is huge.”
Nagelsmann handed a debut off the bench to Marcel Sabitzer, who followed him from the Red Bull Arena to Bavaria. The presence of another former Red Bull, Dayot Upamecano, at the heart of the Bayern defense was another nod to the weakened hand Jesse Marsch has been dealt since replacing Nagelsmann.
“We didn’t play badly. We invested a lot and played to our limits,” said the RB coach after the game.
But those limits were nowhere near enough to test Bayern, whose display, particularly either side of halftime, will serve as a marker to those who might have ambitions of challenging them, both domestically and abroad. While Borussia Dortmund’s win in Leverkusen hours earlier was a triumph forged in chaos rather than control, Bayern kept the second best side in Germany at arm’s length for all but a few moments after Konrad Laimer’s long range thunderbolt.
Jamal Musiala watches his effort fly past Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi
Musiala’s continued impact, scoring the first time he got the ball before displaying exceptional vision and composure for his assist, is a huge boost for his coach. As is the performance of Sane, who has endured a tough start to life at Bayern but now seems to be producing something close to the heights of which he’s capable.
The form of those two, and the addition of Sabitzer, gives Nagelsmann vital options in the week that European football starts with players still feeling the effects of an international triple header.
Bayern travel to Barcelona on Tuesday with the Catalans having enjoyed a break from action this weekend but without Lionel Messi and in constant turmoil off the field. Nagelsmann may be new to the job but he knows that the Champions League will likely define his tenure.
That’s assuming, of course, that he does the minimum; wins the Bundesliga. Early as it is, it’s difficult to see another outcome.
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