Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich: Winners and Losers from German Super Cup
Borussia Dortmund retained the DFL-Superpokal on Wednesday, downing Bayern Munich 2-0 in a repeat of the 2013 edition of the cup final, which BVB had won 4-2.
Both sides entered the match with several key players sidelined with injuries or deemed unfit following the World Cup. But Bayern perhaps suffered the most, with eight players having only returned to training last week. They seemed to lack their typical spark and BVB were comfortable winners thanks to goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Under the circumstances, both teams will take the result and any themes and messages from the game with a grain of salt. But there are some narratives from the result that are worth consideration. Click "Begin Slideshow" for a closer look.
Winner: Sokratis Papastathopoulos
Competition for a starting role in the Dortmund defense will be high this season, with Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Neven Subotic and Matthias Ginter in competition for a starting spot alongside captain Mats Hummels.
Sokratis and Ginter started against Bayern, and the Greece international made a real statement of intent as he took on former teammate Robert Lewandowski. The Pole typically can bully opposing center-backs with his imposing frame, but Sokratis stuck to his opponent and gave him a real nightmare. It was rare that Lewandowski received the ball, and Sokratis was not immediately marking him upon the striker's first touch.
Winner: Sebastian Rode
There weren't many winners from Bayern's side on Wednesday, but perhaps their best performer on the day was Sebastian Rode.
Overall, the German double-winners looked out of shape and lacking in match practice, but the former Frankfurt man was up to the task at hand and looked to have the fitness, ball-winning quality and skill in distribution needed to be a functional central midfielder in the Bayern team.
When his signing was confirmed, Rode may at first have seemed an unnecessary addition to the Bayern team. But throughout the preseason he proved he has quality to bring to the team. Wednesday was just another example.
Loser: Ciro Immobile
Ciro Immobile joined Dortmund with some big shoes to fill, replacing Robert Lewandowski and becoming the second-most expensive player in the current BVB team. His first competitive outing for the club was underwhelming.
The 24-year-old looked a bit too eager to impress the home fans, his decisions on the ball often being a bit selfish. There was one occasion early on in which he opted not to pass and instead took a hopeful shot from distance; later he opted to dribble into a crowd of Bayern defenders when a simple pass would have sufficed.
Immobile has plenty of potential but needs to be patient and trust in his teammates if he is to become the best player he can be at Dortmund. A look to his predecessor, Lewandowski, would be wise.
Losers: Bayern's Defense
Pep Guardiola has revised last season's tactics by creating a three-man defense, but that adjustment hasn't yet proven to be a wise move. The tactic was exposed against the MLS All-Stars in Bayern's final preseason test, and again looked very shaky against Dortmund.
Javi Martinez (who was substituted off after half an hour and taken into the tunnel on a stretcher) was often either too high up the pitch or too deep, leaving space for Dortmund to attack either behind the back line or between the defense and central midfielders.
He may be a great holding midfielder, but the Spain international still lacks the positional understanding that top center-backs usually only learn in their mid-20s after several years of regular play in that position.
In any case, it may be a long time before Martinez next plays. Sky reported shortly after his injury that the ex-Bilbao man may have torn his anterior cruciate ligament.
To Martinez's left, David Alaba also was not always convincing. Although the Austrian's pace is a huge advantage to a back line that has often been criticized for being too slow, he lacks the frame and strength to play as a center-back. His challenge before Henrikh Mkhitaryan's opener was rather weak.
In fairness, the Bayern defense had little screening from Gianluca Gaudino, who at 17 years of age still is far from physical maturity and lacks the strength and explosiveness required to play in central midfield at a high level. That will come in time, but it's a matter of waiting for biological factors to kick in.
Winner: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Coming still before the Bundesliga's start and with both sides missing key players following the World Cup, the Superpokal was never going to be considered an enormous triumph for either team. However, for some individuals, a match like Wednesday's had the potential to be huge. And for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, it certainly was.
Just a couple months ago, there were murmurs that the Gabon striker did not fit into Juergen Klopp's tactical system. But following the preseason and BVB's first competitive match of the campaign, he looks quite at home. Aubameyang terrorized the Bayern defense, his pace running the German giants ragged. He played a big part in the opener and scored an emphatic second with his head.
Winner: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
As in the case of Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan was in a real rut earlier this year. But he ended the 2013-14 campaign well, and was a stand-out performer in the preseason. The Armenia international was excellent running through the midfield and orchestrated not only the finish for his opener, but the entire run-up leading to it.
After the lowest of lows in the Champions League against Real Madrid, he looks ready to turn the corner and deliver for Dortmund.