Two weeks ahead of the 2008-9 Bundesliga opener against Hamburger SV, Bayern have sent out an unmistakable message of intent to their rivals with an impressive 4-2 warm-up victory over partner club and Asian Champions League holders Urawa Red Diamonds.
A 30,000 crowd at the Saitama World Cup stadium in Tokyo saw Miroslav Klose (16), Bastian Schweinsteiger (21) and Lukas Podolski (43) hand the visitors a commanding half-time lead. Podolski completed his brace on the hour to emphasise Munich’s superiority, and although Umesaki (56) and Abe (80) pulled goals back as jetlag and summer training began to take their toll on the German champions, Jürgen Klinsmann’s side deservedly claimed the victory and the Saitama City Cup 2008, marking the centenary of organised football in Saitama.
Sagnol ruled out
With Ribéry, Demichelis, Toni, Borowski, Butt, Sosa and Breno all absent from the traveling party, and Willy Sagnol pulling out of the match due to an Achilles problem, Klinsmann’s team selection showed signs of improvisation. Christian Lell filled the right-back slot with Philipp Lahm moving to the left, while Podolski and Klose formed a two-man strike force.
The double winners made light of their long flight and packed schedule at the start, passing crisply and pressurising the home side. Zé Roberto might have opened the scoring after just two minutes following an exchange of passes with Klose, but the Brazilian’s close-range effort was blocked by keeper Tsuzuki, and Podolski missed the rebound.
Klose off the mark
Klinsmann will have been delighted with his side’s alertness, pace and precision in the final third as Urawa, second in the J-League at the midpoint of the season, spent the first half-hour pegged back in their own half.
Mark van Bommel fired over on 12 minutes, but Klose deservedly opened the scoring just four minutes later, prodding home from close range after the home defence failed to block Zé Roberto’s angled ball.
Rensing a spectator
Tsuzuki made a good save from Altintop two minutes later, but the Urawa keeper was left stranded on 21 minutes when Schweinsteiger’s overhit pass to Podolski somehow crept into the net to double Bayern’s lead.
The men from Munich eased back a little without ever losing control, and 35 minutes had been played before Edmilson tested Michael Rensing with a speculative 35-yarder.
Just as the Diamonds seemed to be gaining a foothold, the Europeans struck again. Schweinsteiger’s 42nd-minute curler drifted narrowly wide, but Podolski was on hand to convert from Klose’s elegant lay-off and make it three just a minute later. Tsuzuki then saved well from Altintop before the half-time whistle.
The initial phase of the second period followed the pattern of the first half, although the Red Diamonds certainly made a more energetic fist of it, Rensing pulling off a superb double reflex save to deny Tulio and Escudero on 54 minutes.
Umesaki pulled one back two minutes later, but Podolski’s fine volley after 62 minutes restored the visitors’ three-goal advantage. The match developed a thrilling end-to-end character now, Urawa creating the slightly better chances and reducing the arrears again through Abe’s acrobatic bicycle kick with ten minutes remaining.
“It was an entertaining, lively match. Our players took the initiative from the start, and you’ve always got to be satisfied when you score four goals,“ commented chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge afterwards, “that was definitely the best we’ve played in pre-season.”
|Urawa Red Diamonds - Bayern Munich 2-4 (H-T: 0-3)|
|Urawa Red Diamonds||Tsuzuki (46 Yamagishi) - Tsuboi (67 Yamada), Horinouchi, Tsutsumi - Hirakawa (46 Tanaka), Suzuki, Abe, Soma (78 Haraguchi) - Umesaki (Uchidate), Escudero (67 Takahashi), Edmilson|
|Bayern Munich||Rensing - Lell, Lucio, Van Buyten, Lahm (60 Jansen) - Altintop (70 Ekici), Van Bommel (70 Ottl), Schweinsteiger (60 Kroos), Zé Roberto - Podolski, Klose (70 Müller)|
|Goals:||0-1 KIose (16), 0-2 Schweinsteiger (21), 0-3 Podolski (43), 1-3 Umesaki (56), 1-4 Podolski (62), 2-4 Abe (80)|