The German and European champions dominated hosts Bayer 04 Leverkusen almost at will in Matchday 8's top-end encounter, even if they did somehow contrive to head home with 'only' a share of the spoils to show for their efforts.
Pep Guardiola has acknowledged that he has been "a bit surprised myself at how quickly the players have absorbed my ideas, to be honest." FC Bayern's new head coach is certainly living up to the astronomical hype that accompanied his arrival in the Bavarian capital and bundesliga.com has been taking a closer statistical look at how Guardiola's strategy is influencing Bayern's possession and pass accuracy - and where there are parallels emerging with his former club FC Barcelona.
On average, FC Bayern have enjoyed 66.5 per cent possession in their eight Bundesliga outings so far, almost exactly ten per cent more than second-in-category Borussia Dortmund. On the road, Bayern have even been seeing slightly more of the ball - 67.3 per cent - and Guardiola's troops have been every bit as commanding in the early stages of their UEFA Champions League title defence: at Manchester City their possession rate was 64.5 per cent, going as high as 71 before the break.
49.3 per cent of that overall average possession has been at the feet of Bayern's midfield, a quota that again leaves all their Bundesliga rivals in the shade. FC Barcelona's fluid midfield play was their ultimate trademark under Guardiola and the Catalan tactician is clearly shifting the emphasis ever more in that direction at his new club as well.
One of the most significant developments in the middle of the park has been 's switch from right back to the pivotal holding role formerly occupied by Bastian Schweinsteiger. Playing the first three games of the season before injury struck in his familiar position, had 101 ball contacts per game on average. In his two latest outings in a more attacking role, that figure dropped to 62.
Lahm, however, has averaged 108 touches in his new deep-lying berth, adapting to the change with aplomb. Guardiola has nonetheless indicated that, "He'll likely return to his old position when the other players
[the currently sidelined Javi Martinez and Thiago, ed.] are back."
Guardiola makes no bones about his penchant for quick-thinking, accurate passers of the ball, noting "You can win a game with good strikers and a good defence, but it's impossible to enjoy continued success without good midfielders." In Schweinsteiger, Lahm and , he has three homegrown talents who certainly fit that bill.
Ahead of Matchday 9, Bayern had executed 5,318 passes all-told. The closest any other team can get to that is Borussia Mönchengladbach's 4,410, while Werder Bremen have managed less than half that total (2,519). At Leverkusen, only a point behind them in the standings, Bayern passed the ball 682 times as against the hosts' 171. In terms of the pass completion rate goes, only 13 percent of Bayern's failed to find a teammate.
Last season, FC Bayern 's possession quota averaged out at around 60 per cent, fairly similar to their altogether less successful 2011/12 campaign. Under Guardiola, however, they are reaching new category heights. Louis van der Gaal led Bayern to the title with an aver possession rate below the 60 percent mark, while the figure in Ottmar Hitzfeld's successful 2007/08 campaign was a mere 54 per cent, well short of this term's 66.5 per cent.
After the first eight matchdays of last season, Bayern's opponents had passed the ball 2,366 times, with 80 percent of those successfully completed. By comparison, Guardiola's side have allowed the opposition just 1,961 passes so far - only 69 percent of which found their way to a teammate.
Taking FC Barcelona's recent Champions League meetings with German opposition as a sampler, Guardiola's former charges enjoyed over 70 per cent possession in each of their round of 16 meetings with Bayer Leverkusen in 2011/12
(3-1, 7-1). In the home leg of their 2008/09 quarter-final match-up with FC Bayern, the figure was 64 per cent - Barca won that one 4-0.
One significant difference between Guardiola's Barcelona and the current Bayern team is that thus far, the Bavarians seem to be less reliant on the quick-passing game for scoring goals. Only six of their 15 league goals to date have been laid on by a pass through the middle, with five more coming over the flanks, three from set-pieces and one from a solo run.
Barcelona racked up 117 goals in the 50 Champions League games of Guardiola's four-year stint at the helm (2008-2012). 84 of those were the product of on-the-ground interplay between Messi, Xavi and Co., with only eleven set up by a cross, five from solo runs and 17 from set-pieces completing the total.
When the otherwise all-conquering Catalans occasionally came up short, it was against sides such as Inter Milan in 2010 and Chelsea in 2012, who deployed park-the-bus tactics that snuffed out Barca's short-passing game. In those instances, their lack of a workable plan B became fairly conspicuous. It's a different story however with Guardiola's FC Bayern, who have a more than viable wide game with the likes of and tearing up the flanks.