The Telekom Cup: 5 Things We Learned
The Telekcom Cup kicked off with a fantastic array of colour and excitement this weekend in a preliminary semi-final round that saw Borussia Moenchengladbach welcome Dortmund to Borussia Park, while Bundesliga and European champions Bayern Munich traveled to Hamburg to play HSV.
Gladbach started the show with a surprising 1-0 win over Dortmund, when Filip Daems' penalty in the 60th minute proved enough to overcome Jurgen Klopp's side. Meanwhile, Bayern Munich continued their march toward further success under new coach Pep Guardiola with a 4-0 win over Hamburg.
Now lets take a look at five things we learned from this weekend's matches.
Guardiola Likes Goals
Bayern Munich have been scoring goals recently—a lot of them.
The four scored on Saturday were of excellent merit, but they were against a Hamburg side that should have been a harder test than the teams that have already fallen to Bayern in preseason.
The Bavarian champions' profitable afternoon now puts them on a tally of 30 goals in just five games. This means they average approximately six goals per match.
We expected to be entertained when Pep first pulled up at the Allianz Arena, but an average tally like this over the course of the coming campaign will be one for the history books.
Dortmund Already Miss Henrikh Mkhitaryan
After Henrikh Mkhitaryan picked up an ankle injury that should keep him out until a few weeks into the looming Bundesliga campaign, Jurgen Klopp chose to start Ilkay Gundogan in the No. 10 role against Gladbach.
Unfortunately for Dortmund, Gundogan just didn't catch the pace of the game from that specific position and never performed to the level we've come to expect of the young central midfielder.
Equally, Marco Reus was also repositioned to take a shift in the role behind the striker. Like Gundogan, he failed to recreate the form that Mkhitaryan showed in the playmaking role against Luzern and Bursapor in the two previous friendlies.
Dortmund were also without their other star signing, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and will cite his absence for the lack of creativity up front this weekend, but that doesn't excuse what was a hollow performance without their new playmaker.
Bayern Look Likely to Mix It Up
With Guardiola's arrival at Bayern Munich, the club has seen the world's press fixate over everything that the new coach has implemented since taking over from Jupp Heynckes.
One factor that has driven reporters mad has been the formations used by the Catalonian coach this summer, which are different from those that brought so much success last season.
The 4-1-4-1 tactic had been used in each friendly this summer and was widely regarded as Pep's favoured approach. It allows the midfield five a free role across the pitch from defence to attack, yet on Saturday Bayern set up in a more traditional 4-5-1 with two strikers—two more than most folk anticipated the ex-Barcelona coach would bother with.
It was possibly just a blip intended to answer some questions for the new coach, but it was also an example of how many options the coach has at his disposal within this squad. Don't be surprised if we see Guardiola resort back to it again before the start of the season.
Dortmund Are Struggling with Defence
Criticism of a team's performance throughout preseason is often done with a pinch of salt, yet a recurring problem for Jurgen Klopp and his side is their defence, or lack thereof.
Despite bolstering an impressive offensive record in previous weeks, Dortmund have conceded three goals in their last three games. As we saw throughout the title race last season, Bayern's rock-solid defence was often the difference between the two sides.
With the sudden departure of Mario Gotze and the consequential signings of Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang to replace him, we can excuse the Dortmund coach for fixating on his attacking line and ironing out any creases before the Bundesliga campaign kicks off. Yet defensive errors are what cost games, and if these preseason games are anything to go by, Dortmund are as careless at the back as they were last season.
Toni Kroos May Yet Play a Role in Guardiola's Plans
With the arrival of Thiago Alcantara and Mario Gotze at the club, many of the German media have been speculating for the past few weeks as to just how much Guardiola thinks of Toni Kroos.
A local lad turned preferred playmaker, Kroos was a pivotal player under Heynckes and a key factor to the side winning the Champions League in May despite picking up a lengthy injury before the final. However, with the aforementioned arrivals, it did seem unlikely that the young German international was being properly considered by the new coach.
Yet, as we saw this weekend against Hamburg, Kroos proved irreplaceable in his execution of the ball from his new role as sitting midfielder. He even picked up a goal with a fantastic strike to make it 3-0 for the Bavarian champions.
In fact, as we've seen this summer, Kroos has performed well in all of the club's friendlies throughout Europe. While he has arguably filled a hole in midfield that would usually be occupied by Bastian Schweinsteiger or Javi Martinez, he has offered a level of commitment that suggests he's not leaving anytime soon.