The 17-year-old made his mark as Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller scored either side of half-time to secure victory
By Enis Koylu
Much of the summer has been spent congratulating Germany on the vast array of young talent that its clubs have produced over the years in the wake of their World Cup win.
As ever, Bayern Munich were the principal contributors to Joachim Low’s squad and, in Gianluca Gaudino, the Bavarians look to have a player on their hands who can become a future star for the national team.
The 17-year-old looked slightly out of his depth during the recent Supercup loss to Borussia Dortmund. Making his senior debut and faced with hostility he will not have encountered in his brief career, he struggled to get to grips with the pace of the game. As it turned out, he was only waiting to make a big impression.
After a rather sedate start to Bayern’s 2-1 victory over Wolfsburg on the Bundesliga’s opening night, it was the teenager who took the game by the scruff of its neck and forced openings. His passing was crisp and immaculate, his running tireless and he combined well with the likes of Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben as though he had been playing with them for years.
Until their opening goal – a wonderful bit of play which saw Robben lay it on a plate for Muller – Gaudino had been their most dangerous creative force and, but for a spectacular save from Max Grun in the Wolfsburg goal, he would have set up the league’s first goal with a wonderful cross which Robert Lewandowski forced goalwards acrobatically.
His arrival on the scene is also a big vindication for Guardiola. Despite the domestic double his side won last year, his insistence on overhauling their tactics and the sale of Toni Kroos have kept the club’s fans from truly warming to him.
Of course, there has been something distinctly Spanish his work at the Allianz Arena thus far but he has never been afraid to look to the club’s youngsters, having blooded Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg at the tail end of last season. The Dane only got one minute off the bench but he, along with Julian Green and Lucas Scholl (the son of the legendary Mehmet) can expect further playing time in the coming months.
And though one of the biggest positives of the night was the emergence of a player who looks like he could become a star in the future, the established members of the Bayern ranks also shone, despite a truncated summer break due to the World Cup.
Robben and Muller looked capable of scoring every time they were on the ball, Philipp Lahm was his usual, busy self and David Alaba, playing in his preferred role as a defensive midfielder shone with his considerable engine and some brilliant passes.
That Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribery, Thiago Alcantara, Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez were among the big names missing is a testament to the strength in depth at Guardiola’s disposal. Bayern, already streets ahead of the rest in Germany, will only get better.
The only negatives were at the back. Manuel Neuer, usually so composed, had a couple of poor moments on the ball, giving the ball away needlessly. Dante, again, looked to be a shadow of the player who first arrived at the Allianz Arena two years ago and Holger Badstuber, playing in his first Bundesliga game for almost two years, was culpable for Wolfsburg’s goal.
If Guardiola’s 3-4-3 system is to work this term, the candidates to fill the slots in defence will need to put in some serious work on the training ground to improve their understanding.
But the former Barcelona boss expected a difficult beginning to the season. After so many of his players’ exploits at the World Cup, they have been robbed of a proper pre-season. Wolfsburg are a quality team and though there were some drawbacks, the champions can be happy with the way they got off and running.
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