Carlo Ancelotti has much to live up to at FC Bayern München, but the recent Supercup 2016 triumph over Borussia Dortmund bodes very well indeed for the esteemed Italian head coach as he prepares to embark on his debut Bundesliga campaign.
One competitive outing, one win and one piece of silverware for the trophy cabinet: At the first time of asking, Carlo Ancelotti claimed a prize that had eluded his predecessor Pep Guardiola for three years, as FC Bayern München beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in their own back yard to secure the 2016 Supercup.
Arturo Vidal and Thomas Müller – the latter with an assist from former BVB skipper Mats Hummels – scored the match-deciding goals in front of a sell-out 81,360 crowd at the Signal Iduna Park. "The team are very strong already," said Ancelotti afterwards, "we're happy. It was difficult, of course, Dortmund played really well in the first half. After that we improved, and this gives us confidence for the Bundesliga." For his part, Hummels momentarily lost his bearings as he noted, "No-one could have complained if the lads – I mean my old lads, now – had gone in front."
Watch: Supercup 2016 highlights:
The fans certainly got their money's worth. This was no pre-season kickabout, but a full-blooded contest between the country's top two sides. Dortmund came racing out the blocks, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ousmane Dembélé and Felix Passlack all troubling an out-of-sorts Bayern defence early on – only to be denied by a combination of poor finishing and guest keeper Manuel Neuer.
On the personnel front, the main pre-match focus had been on Hummels' return to the ground where he had developed into a star of world standing over the previous eight-and-a-half years. Bayern's other big summer signing, newly-minted teen Euro 2016 champion Renato Sanches, missed out due to injury – as did Mario Götze, who sensationally made the return journey from Munich to Dortmund just as Hummels was heading in the other direction.
Watch: Carlo Ancelotti on Bayern's Supercup win over Dortmund:
Having rode their luck for much of the opening half, Bayern sprang into attacking life shortly before the break with Vidal twice foiled by BVB keeper Roman Bürki and Robert Lewandowski heading wide. After the restart, Dortmund – with newcomers Dembélé, Marc Bartra and Sebastian Rode all looking lively – initially appeared to be regaining the upper hand. Then, just shy of the hour mark, Vidal made the breakthrough for last season's double winners, the Chilean midfielder clipping the ball past Bürki at the second attempt. Müller made the result safe with a little over ten minutes to go, latching onto a knock-down from Hummels following a corner.
A clear enough victory for the champions in the end, then, but only after a contest that bodes well for a thrilling tussle between these two arch-rivals over the coming months in the league. First blood to Carlo Ancelotti – with plenty of positives for Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel to take into the season proper, as well.