Munich - It may only have been a mid-season friendly, but FC Bayern München’s 3-0 defeat away to Austrian league leaders FC Red Bull Salzburg is unlikely to have gone unnoticed by the Bundesliga’s chasing pack.
An unlikely schooling less than a week before the German top flight’s resurrection at Borussia Park, the Bavarians nevertheless took Saturday’s disappointment with the good grace of a true heavyweight champion.
“Our opponents were better than us,” admitted head coach Pep Guardiola after overseeing his side concede three first-half goals for the first time since taking over from Jupp Heynckes last summer. “If we don’t play well, plenty of teams are better than us. We learned some good lessons about ourselves.”
Chief among the 43-year-old’s list of don’ts ahead of the Bundesliga restart is likely to be his decision to stick an extra man in midfield at the expense of the back four. Dante, Jerome Boateng and Javier Martinez struggled with the new system, before Guardiola reverted to 4-1-4-1 late in the first half in a bid to arrest his side’s slide.
Exception to the rule
Although Bayern tightened up after the restart, it took Manuel Neuer’s spot-kick heroics and a goal-line clearance from Austrian international David Alaba to prevent the unfancied hosts from adding to their haul. Suffice to say, Guardiola’s usually unshakeable cast were a country mile from their world-beating best.
The good news is that friendlies were designed with such slip-ups in mind. And with Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Daniel van Buyten, Bastian Schweinsteiger and captain Philipp Lahm all expected to return in the week ahead, Friday’s hosts Borussia Mönchengladbach would be wise not to read too much into Bayern’s first loss of 2014. There is every chance it will be their last.