The second match day of the Bundesliga opened with a high-calibre meeting between Schalke and Bayern. The home side were aiming to make up for a hesitant start against Frankfurt, while the reigning champions entered the match on the back of a comfortable win against Werder. They understood that their next opponent would pose a bigger challenge and adjusted their game plan accordingly.
The most apparent difference for Bayern was the way they attacked the ball when out of possession. While they were not afraid to let Werder get higher up the pitch – with the knowledge that they could deal with their efforts –, they looked to get the ball from the hosts as soon as possible. Then, they showed less central build-up compared to the style under Guardiola, and got the acball closer to the opposition goal much quicker, where they were met with Schalke’s relentless defending. They also relied on crosses, something the home team defended against with lining up higher defensive players, a plan that worked well. Captain Benedikt Höwedes was especially reliable, keeping a close eye on Ribéry, who couldn’t have the influence he had against Werder. While Schalke defended well as a team for most of the match, individual performances from Naldo and Baba Rahman could be questioned and would cost the hosts dearly.
The match started with a good spell for the visitors, but after fifteen minutes of play Schalke started to show less respect. They stepped up their pressing, committing five players on Bayern’s half at times. It paid off and all throughout the first half, they created more chances, but never quite got to promising shots. The biggest problem was their lack of presence in Bayern’s penalty box. Lone striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar couldn’t break his bad spell against the Bavarians (he still hasn’t scored) and was invisible. This put extra demands on the trio of attacking midfielders Konoplyanka, Goretzka and Choupo-Moting, with the German being especially fresh in build-up.
Against Schalke’s aggressive defending, Bayern looked out of ideas, their only big chance coming in the 24th minute after Müller’s run from the offside line to gift Lewandowski with a chance that the Pole couldn’t convert.
After half time, Carlo Ancelotti made a few changes in order to secure his team a win. Thiago and Renato Sanches switched places. The Portuguese youngster was later substituted off, ending his competitive debut, a performance he will likely want to forget. With the midfield more stable, Bayern could control the game, and apart from a long range effort from Huntelaar, didn’t let Schalke have a chance and the Royal Blues barely got any touches in the penalty box. The more comfortable play allowed the visitors more fluidity in the build-up.
In the end, it turned out to be a hard-fought win for Bayern. Lewandowski capitalized on Martínez’s long pass against a tired Schalke defence after Naldo played him onside and he got rid of Höwedes. Kimmich then secured the lead in injury time, scoring after a quick counter-attack.
The match showed that Bayern are beatable and vulnerable, but also that they can grind out results if needed. Ancelotti’s experience helped them throughout the game with more successful changes to his team’s playing style. Despite their second loss in a row, Weinzierl’s man can take away some positives, and will feel that the result doesn’t reflect their performance.