5 Things We Learned from Bayern Munich's Friendly Win over Barcelona
Bayern Munich beat Barcelona at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night in a repeat of last season's Champions League semifinal.
The visitors, who were without a few players who took part in this summer's Confederations Cup, found themselves 1-0 down at half-time, after Philipp Lahm headed in Frank Ribery's cross at the 15-minute mark.
Jordi Roura and Rubi—managing Barca before Gerardo Martino arrives on Friday—then opted for 11 substitutions at the interval, while Guardiola decided to make his throughout the second period.
The changes slowed down the second 45 and, despite being up against a B side, Bayern couldn't manage to add to their total.
Here are five things we learned from the friendly...
Pep's Midfield Headache
A headache usually draws bad connotations, but the one which Pep Guardiola faces ahead of the new season could definitely be perceived as good.
In the win against Barcelona he opted for Philipp Lahm, Toni Kroos and Thiago Alcantara to fill his three central midfield spaces.
The second half saw the introduction of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Emre Can and Luis Gustavo too. Then there was Javi Martinez who didn't make it on.
Seven into three doesn't go, and it's not yet clear what Guardiola's favored three will be.
Lahm will presumably revert to right-back, despite showing plenty of ability in the middle, while it's possible Martinez may be used as a central defender.
Five into three becomes slightly easier, with Gustavo and Can the favorites to miss out when the big games roll around.
Barcelona Need a Defender
Philipp Lahm out-jumping Javier Mascherano to head Bayern into the lead was one of a number of first-half moments which highlighted Barcelona's need for a new defender.
Nothing new there.
With Carles Puyol injured and Gerard Pique still on leave, Mascherano and Marc Bartra were paired in defense to start the match.
Although both able at times, both still have their deficiencies, which could unravel if chosen as first choice alongside Pique for the whole season.
Mascherano struggles in the air, while Bartra is still learning and, as demonstrated when he fouled Frank Ribery for a booking just before the break, can be a little rash.
Bartra would perhaps benefit more than most from training alongside a new, world-class center-half.
Meanwhile, Martin Montoya endured a tough time from Ribery on Bayern's left-hand side. That can be put down to match practice though.
Bayern Shaping into Guardiola's Image
As we find ourselves in an age of football where Marcelo Bielsa's influence seems to carry huge weight, and everyone has heard of tiki-taka, Bayern Munich find themselves heading the same way.
The intense pressing demonstrated at times during the friendly was reminiscent of Pep Guardiola's Barcelona team who were deemed unbeatable for the best part of four years.
It's an aspect of their game which is only likely to improve when the season gets underway, too.
Another sign of Guardiola's mark on the Bavarians is the use of players in different positions. Philipp Lahm was implemented in midfield; David Alaba was allowed a copious amount of freedom on the left; and the front three, in the first half especially, constantly interchanged.
Bayern may have had the winning formula last season, but Guardiola doesn't seem scared about tweaking their style.
Nothing Was Really Learned
With so many variables at play, it is nearly impossible to use Bayern Munich's win as any sort of gauge ahead of the new season.
The Bavarians were playing their ninth friendly of the preseason already, having won every match convincingly so far.
For Barcelona it was their first fixture since last season, having seen Saturday's friendly against Lechia Gdansk postponed after the announcement that Tito Vilanova would step down.
Also important is the fact that Barca were without a large chunk of their first-team players.
Neymar, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and all the other players who featured at the Confederations Cup did not travel to Germany.
Instead the likes of Sergi Roberto, Jonathan Dos Santos and Cristian Tello were given a chance to excel.
Football Is Better Than the Transfer Window!
What a pleasant relief it is to have club football back.
It may have only been a friendly, but it is the first sign that the new season is just around the corner.
Among all the madness in June and July, as players are constantly linked to different clubs on an hourly basis, it seems easy to forget about the beautiful game.
Seeing Frank Ribery back in full flow on Wednesday night and Lionel Messi captaining Barcelona was an early reminder that the football season is better than the transfer season.
Roll on August!