On his competitive debut for Bayern, Douglas Costa (l.) gave Vieirinha (r.) a particularly hard time in Saturday's Supercup, and his performance augurs well for the Bayern - © © imago / MIS
On his competitive debut for Bayern, Douglas Costa (l.) gave Vieirinha (r.) a particularly hard time in Saturday's Supercup, and his performance augurs well for the Bayern - © © imago / MIS

Costa causes stir as Bayern see width as a way to win

Wolfsburg – Following the departure of Bastian Schweinsteiger and arrival of Arturo Vidal, most of the talk at FC Bayern München this summer had focused on the centre of midfield. The Supercup showed, however, that their should really be a broader assessment of Bayern's game, with their width working the most wonders.

Costa and Robben: thorns in Wolfsburg's side

Not even two minutes had been played when a gasp echoed around the Volkswagen Arena as Douglas Costa burst past VfL Wolfsburg's Vieirinha for dead before delivering a cross which Robert Lewandowski only just failed to convert.

Moments later, Bayern's new Brazilian was at it again, marauding down the left to deliver another ball into the danger zone. It looked consummately easy and devilishly deadly. Only when Wolfsburg gave Vieirinha some support and Bayern sought different avenues of attack did the threat wear off, just enough to let the hosts get a foothold in the game.

With the supply line cut off, Costa and Arjen Robben appeared isolated on the wings, picking up chalk on their boots but failing to see much of the ball. Bayern were instead taking a more direct route, and Wolfsburg were grateful for it.

As soon as Costa or Robben were given the ball to caress again, however, a goal did not seem far away. Had the former shown more altruism from Robert Lewandowski's pass, Bayern probably would have taken a 1-0 lead after half an hour. Thomas Müller, who instigated the exquisite move, ensured Costa would seek the direct route next time with an exasperated tirade, as Costa would later go on to create the Bavarians' goal.

Not just making up the numbers

"The new players are really important for us," said Robben. "They're going to improve us, I'm convinced." Costa and Vidal have not been drafted in just to make up the numbers, they have come to take Bayern onto the next level, all the while ensuring that the rest of the squad remains on their toes, including the supremely gifted but currently injured Franck Ribery.

Costa's exhibition in the Frenchman's footprints continued in the second half with the delivery which set Robben up for the opener, while Robben responded in kind with some forays of his own down the right. Philipp Lahm stole into the gaps behind the Dutchman, with Thiago Alcantaraalso finding room in the spaces vacated by Costa, as the Wolves struggled to get to grips with the league champions for long spells.

Fortnight of fine-tuning

It all seemed to be going according to plan - "It was a good game from us, we just failed to get the second goal," said Manuel Neuer - and with a bit of luck, the visitors could have found themselves further in front, with Lewandowski and Müller missing good chances. It is still pre-season, remember, and the regulars must get used to the newcomers too.

That also applies to Bayern's defensive play. "Xabi [Alonso] and Jerome [Boateng] were a bit slow," said Bayern coach Pep Guardiola, picking a fault in Wolfsburg's late equaliser, scored by substitute Nicklas Bendtner. "We're lacking a bit of sharpness. Give us a few per cent more, then I'm confident we'll make a successful start to the season."

He now has a fortnight to apply some fine-tuning and put this defeat - by no means a disaster - - to bed. Bayern had lost the previous two Supercups but still managed to win the league in 2014 and 2015, and nobody within the camp is taking defeat with more than a pinch of salt. "I don't really think this game says a lot," added Neuer. In fact, what it spelled out loud and clear was how much weaponry they still boast from the wings.

Sebastian Stenzel / Adapted by Ben Gladwell