With a number of World Cup participants left at home to recover, Bayern Munich’s first pre-season under Niko Kovac was a learning curve for new faces in the squad. A convincing win over Paris-Saint Germain, followed by positive performances in defeats to Juventus and Manchester City allowed a new, young squad to grow together. There was even time for a Miami Vice remake.
Kovac’s side was still bursting with talent despite big names remaining on holiday following their summer work. Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and David Alaba were among those involved, as well as Renato Sanches, returning to the club following his loan with English Premier League side Swansea last season.
And it was Sanches who made the first big impression on the club’s new coach, scoring a stunning free-kick in Bayern’s win over French Ligue 1 champions PSG in Klagenfurt, Austria, in their first game within the International Champions Cup tournament.
"Working with the coach is amazing, he manages to address each and every player individually,“ Sanches said after the game in Klagenfurt, while Kovac returned the praise in the talented midfielder’s direction.
"I'm delighted he played so well and scored such a wonderful free-kick," Kovac said. "He certainly hasn't forgotten how to play football."
From there, it was time to head to the United States. First stop: Philadelphia and the famous landmarks in the city.
Once the players had channeled their inner-Rocky, the inseparable pair of Ribery and Alaba headed to meet a team who had created a legacy much like that of Rocky Balboa’s, the Philadelphia Eagles, current SuperBowl champions.
With the sights seen it was on to business, and that brought Bayern up against Italian Serie A champions Juventus and a frustrating game followed. The Bundesliga side dominated proceedings at Lincoln Financial Field, but Juventus scored twice against the run of play against Kovac’s side, who fell to a 2-0 defeat.
Watch: Bayern dominate in defeat to Juve!
But like on any pre-season tour it was not the results that were important, but rather the preparation for the season ahead. Bayern headed to Miami, where they would close out their tour with a game against English Premier League champions Manchester City, managed by former coach Pep Guardiola.
Before the game there was time to take in the views of one of the world’s most exciting cities, and two players especially were capturing the feel of Miami. Sanches was joined by Sandro Wagner as Bayern re-created Miami Vice in style.
On the pitch, it was another performance that can excite fans of the record champions, with American loanee Chris Richards one of the youngsters playing the full 90 minutes in another promising team performance. In the end, though, Bayern left with a 3-2 defeat, despite the best efforts of Robben and Co.
Watch: Bayern 2-3 Man City - highlights!
Bayern now return to Munich where on 5 August they play host to Manchester United in a friendly to reveal the new seating design at the Allianz Arena. With World Cup stars, such as James Rodriguez, already in training at Sabener Straße, it will be the first opportunity to see a near-full strength Bayern, under Kovac, in action.