Dream debuts for Bayern Munich trio Süle, Rudy and Tolisso
Niklas Süle has been a Bayern Munich player since 1 July, but there are still a few things he has got to learn.
As he exited the dressing room following his opening night extravaganza, he took a wrong turning through the mixed zone where the visiting players normally pass. "Sorry, it's all new to me here," he said as he left the awaiting reporters stranded on the other side. Fortunately for Bayern, he knew exactly where to go on the pitch.
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His third touch of the ball demonstrated that. His gangly 6'4" frame helped him rise to nod in the opening goal of the 55th Bundesliga season and set Bayern on their way to their first three points of their title defence.
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It was a goal rooted in Hoffenheim. "It was obviously great for both of us that it was a co-production," said Süle, acknowledging the assist laid on a plate from Sebastian Rudy, who made the same journey from Sinsheim with him this summer, and who added: "I was delighted to be able to set him up and that we've managed to settle in here so well."
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There was already proof of that in Bayern's Supercup win over Borussia Dortmund, with Rudy playing a part in the Bavarians' two late goals. His precise free-kicks have added another edge to Bayern's game, but he admits it was only luck which dictated that his former Hoffenheim colleague would benefit on Friday night. "We've got plenty of good headers of the ball up there," he said. "All I do is send the ball into the danger area, and that worked a treat."
Click here for more reaction to Friday night's season opener
They were not the only Bayern Bundesliga debutants on Friday night. The other – Corentin Tolisso – made an equally emphatic entrance, doubling the home team's advantage nine minutes after Süle's opener and ensuring that two debutants simultaneously opened their accounts for Bayern for the first time since Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni hit the ground running in the 3-0 win over Hansa Rostock in 2007.
Tolisso also became the first Frenchman to score on his Bayern debut, with not even Franck Ribery managing that.
Watch: Tolisso reacts to his stunning Bayern debut
"He looked so happy on the ball and always wanted it – he was everywhere," said Rudy of his new partner in midfield. "When you play alongside somebody like that, it just makes it even more enjoyable." The former Olympique Lyonnais midfielder assumed the playmaker role of the absent Thiago Alcantara, making the most sprints (26) and completing the most passes, while also taking more shots (4) even than Robert Lewandowski, agonisingly striking the post with one of his efforts, and having 82 phases of possession – again more than anybody else on the field.
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"For me, he was the best player on the pitch," said Joshua Kimmich. "He was exceptional, not just because of his goal. He won a lot of tackles and covered a lot of ground." Indeed, with 11.16 km, Tolisso was second only to Bayern's new first-choice right full-back (11.79km) in terms of distance covered.
The new trio also covered a lot of ground in terms of impressing their new club management. "We're delighted to have signed such lads," beamed Bayern's sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic. "They've all bedded in well and have been really taken under the team's wings."
There is nevertheless more to come as far as Süle is concerned. "We've not played in this shape often and there were a few new arrivals playing who still need to get to know each other," he said after deputising for the injured Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez. "We've got to be more compact defending as a team, and that's what we need to work on in the coming weeks."
In fact, they need to work hard on that over the next seven days. "We're going to have to show another face [against Werder Bremen]," he added, already looking ahead to the record champions' first away game of the season, at the Weser Stadium next Saturday, where Süle should at least know the right way through the mixed zone as a visiting player.
Maximilian Lotz reporting from Munich / adapted by Ben Gladwell