Bayern’s strength in depth will make them impossible to surpass

Carlo Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti” (CC BY 2.0) by Doha Stadium Plus


Bayern Munich have began the Bundesliga season as they finished the last one in complete control of the division, despite the change in manager over the summer. Carlo Ancelotti has picked up right where Pep Guardiola left off as the Bavaria-based club have won all five of their matches to begin the campaign.

Bayern are aiming to win the Bundesliga for a fifth-straight season, and already look irrepressible in their bid for the German top-flight crown, despite the quality shown by Borussia Dortmund. As a result, the club are backed in the latest Bundesliga betting odds at 1/7 to win the title, and Ancelotti’s men have got off to the perfect start for their assault on the league.

One of the major factors that has helped the club create a stranglehold on the division is their recruitment, which was highlighted in their move for Mats Hummels from bitter rivals Dortmund along with the signing of one of the most promising players in Europe – Renato Sanches.

Hummels has gone straight into the team and not only provides strength at the back next to his Germany international team-mate Jerome Boateng, but his departure significantly weakened Thomas Tuchel’s side, who were left scrambling for a replacement.

Bayern already had the strongest squad in the division, with the firepower of Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller leading the line. Both strikers have scored a mountain of goals for the club since combining their talents in 2014 in a partnership that strikes fear into the hearts of every defence in the league.

Ancelotti’s team’s greatest strength is their midfield where they have an embarrassment of riches, which has only be increased by the performances of rising star Joshua Kimmich. The 21-year-old has enjoyed a brilliant start to the campaign, scoring two goals in his new role after being pushed forward by the Italian from full-back.

His passing ability and movement, especially in the final third has added further potency to Bayern’s game. The sight will please Ancelotti as between Kimmich and Sanches he could have two of the brightest prospects in the game at his disposal for many years to come.

For all of their brilliance, one aspect that can never be overlooked is experience. Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben have had a torrid time with injuries over the past couple of years, and it’s testament to Bayern’s skills in the transfer market and quality on the pitch that they have dominated even without the presence of the duo.

Both players were the stars of the Bayern team that drove their side to their triumph over Dortmund in 2013 in the Champions League final. However, their fitness problems have limited their impact, with both men reduced to playing roles from the bench.

Ribery showed signs that he still has the potential to play a crucial role for the club even at the age of 33 when he replaced Kingsley Coman in his side’s clash against Hamburg. The Frenchman came off the bench in the second half and caused havoc down the left wing, creating Kimmich’s late strike that handed Ancelotti’s men the three points. The result proved Bayern’s incredible strength in depth and proved that it will take a momentous achievement to overhaul them at the top of the Bundesliga this term.

Griezmann will still take penalties – Simeone

The France international saw a late effort crash against the bar, but his coach pointed out that even the best players in the world sometime err from the spot

Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann will continue taking penalties despite his latest miss, coach Diego Simeone said.

Griezmann put his 84th-minute spot-kick against the crossbar, but Atletico still claimed a 1-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday.

A first-half goal by Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, set up by Griezmann, was enough for the LaLiga giants.

Atletico down Bayern in Champions League clash

Atletico have taken three penalties in their last four Champions League games, failing to score any of them – with two missed by Griezmann.

“[Diego] Maradona, [Lionel] Messi, [Michel] Platini and Zico have all missed penalties. Griezmann will carry on taking them,” Simeone said, via UEFA.

“We are very happy with his work. He started the counter-attack for the goal and he did a thousand things.

“For me, he is in amongst the best forwards in the world.”

Carrasco’s pinpoint finish in the 35th minute proved the match-winner for Simeone’s side.

The Argentinian was also full of praise for midfielder Koke, saying: “We have been working with Koke for the last two years, moving him more inside.

“He is looking more natural there and seems to be the boss in there. It works well and he enables the team recover the ball much more quickly.”

Ancelotti frustrated by slow, toothless Bayern

The former Real Madrid coach saw the Bundesliga champions beaten once again by Diego Simeone’s men, and he lamented the shortage of decent chances created

Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti felt his side paid for a sluggish performance in their 1-0 Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

The Bundesliga title-holders had won all eight of their matches so far this season before Wednesday, but a solitary strike from Yannick Ferreira Carrasco sealed a deserved win for the home side at the Vicente Calderon.

Bayern created few meaningful chances despite dominating possession, and Ancelotti was left frustrated by their slow use of the ball and a lack of “bite” when trying to win it back.

Atletico down Bayern in Champions League clash

“We controlled the game, but the bottom line is that today we had no bite in the tackle, we weren’t determined enough. We lost too many balls and played too slow,” he said.

“It was a tough game, as we expected. We could have played better. We lost some balls and got hit on the counter.

“They scored and then I think we tried to get back into it but we were too slow, and that’s why I do not think we had too many chances to get back into it.

“Losing is always sad. You never want to lose. We need to evaluate the game, look at what we did well and did not do well and go forward. We are at the start of the season. We still have the chance to top the group and we will need to beat Atletico in the return game to do so.

“Against Atletico, you have to be faster and take your chances. It was not a good performance, but it was just a game. Next time, it will be better.”

The victory was Atletico’s second against Bayern this year, following their 1-0 win in the first leg of last season’s Champions League semi-final in the Spanish capital.

Arjen Robben, who came on as a second-half substitute, has called on his team-mates to take on board the lessons of those two defeats ahead of Saturday’s Bundesliga match against Cologne.

“This was a big game for the group stage. It was the semi-finals last season, and we saw why,” said the Netherlands international.

“We started quite well, we were aggressive and we had chances – you need to take them in a game like this, just as Atletico did. We must learn from it. On Saturday, we want to win again.”

Atleti now hold a three-point lead over Bayern at the top of Group D after their two victories to date, with Rostov and PSV further behind on a point apiece following their 2-2 draw.

Torres eyeing 'magical' year for Atletico

The striker was pleased to see his team vanquish the Bundesliga giants once again through Yannick Ferreira Carrasco’s strike, and hopes the year will end in joy

Fernando Torres says Atletico Madrid can make their final season at the Vicente Calderon “magical” after their Champions League victory over Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco scored the only goal of the game in the first half as Diego Simeone’s side took charge of Group D with a repeat of the result they earned in the first leg of last season’s semi-final clash.

Atletico are due to move into a new stadium for the 2017-18 campaign, and Torres is eager to mark the last year at their famous home by challenging to reach a second Champions League final in succession.

Atletico down Bayern in Champions League clash

“We’re very happy with the result, it’s what we needed,” he told Fox Sports. “We knew we had to win today because it’s a tough group and we didn’t want to go to Munich on the last day of the group stage to try to qualify.

“I grew up as a kid coming to this stadium, all my memories are around here. It’s a special year for us and all the fans, a magical one. It would be a great year to do something special, to remember this as one of the best seasons in our history.”

Carrasco capitalised on some loose play by Xabi Alonso to stride into space and fire a low shot past Manuel Neuer and in off the post to give Atleti the victory.

The Belgium international was delighted to see his effort go in after twice hitting the woodwork without scoring in Atleti’s home matches this season.

“When you’re winning 1-0, it’s normal to suffer in the second half, but the important thing is that they didn’t get the goal,” he said.

“I was lucky that it hit the post and went in. It’s been post, post, post so far this season. Today it was post and in.”

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayern Munich: Carrasco goal secures home win

Carlo Ancelotti suffers first defeat as coach of the Bundesliga club as Diego Simeone’s side repeat last season’s win at the Vicente Calderon

Atletico Madrid took control of Champions League Group D with a 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich at the Vicente Calderon, as Carlo Ancelotti suffered his first defeat in charge of the club.

Diego Simeone’s side beat the German champions by the same scoreline in the first leg of last season’s semi-final clash in April, and they followed that up with a deserved victory thanks to Yannick Ferreira Carrasco’s pinpoint finish.

Bayern went into the game off the back of eight wins in a row in all competitions, but struggled to find any attacking cohesion despite enjoying the majority of possession.

Indeed, Atletico could have led by more before Carrasco’s 35th-minute strike, with Fernando Torres twice spurning good opportunities and Manuel Neuer saving well to deny the goalscorer again.

Franck Ribery dragged a shot wide from close range and Thomas Muller missed a good chance from a header, but Bayern rarely had goalkeeper Jan Oblak concerned during what proved to be a fourth successive defeat in the competition on Spanish soil. 

Antoine Griezmann spurned the chance to make it 2-0 when he blazed an 84th-minute penalty against the crossbar, but Atletico now top the group on six points, three ahead of Bayern, who sit in second place above Rostov and PSV following their 2-2 draw.

Atletico’s defensive masterclass kept Bayern at bay in the last-four clash at the Calderon earlier this year, but Simeone’s side had plenty of early pressure and only a smart block from Javi Martinez – following a loose touch – stopped Torres from opening the scoring from close range.

Oblak made a stunning reaction save to deny Muller on the volley after the Germany forward beat the offside trap, before Neuer sprung low to his left to block Carrasco’s effort from the edge of the area.

Torres missed a glorious chance to break the deadlock after 22 minutes, heading against the post from just three yards out following Saul Niguez’s flick, and Robert Lewandowski nodded a presentable opening into Oblak’s grasp at the other end.

But Atleti got the lead they deserved after 35 minutes. Sloppy play from Xabi Alonso saw the ball break into Carrasco’s path, and he drilled a low finish past Neuer and in off the base of the post from 20 yards.

Ribery scuffed a shot past the near corner after finding a rare pocket of space in the Atleti area, and Muller headed wide when unmarked at a corner just after half-time as Bayern looked for a decisive response.

Ancelotti introduced Arjen Robben just before the hour mark in a bid to inject some attacking verve, but Neuer was called upon to keep his side in the match when he dived to his left to parry Carrasco’s drive from distance.

Bayern set up camp in Atleti’s half in the closing stages, Lewandowski glancing a header just past Oblak’s right-hand post, before Robben arrowed a low shot narrowly wide, but their attacking efforts remained largely laboured against a home defence brilliantly marshalled by Diego Godin.

Griezmann then squandered the chance to make the last few minutes comfortable, crashing his spot-kick off the woodwork after Arturo Vidal had barged Filipe Luis to ground, but Atleti held firm to extend their run to 26 wins in 31 European games on home turf.

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