For one day at least, it was much ado about nothing.
Bayern Munich kicked off their Bundesliga campaign in fine fashion Friday, easily dismissing Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 at the Allianz Arena.
Casual observers will see nothing amiss about that scoreline — after all, Bayern’s dominance over the Bundesliga is well known. The current holders are pushing for a sixth straight title, with no one managing to keep them from the crown since Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund in 2011-12.
But it is worth remembering that a few weeks ago, this type of performance was considered anything but a given.
The pre-season was rocky for Bayern, with losses to the likes of AC Milan, Inter Milan, Arsenal, Liverpool and Napoli. The defeats to Milan and Liverpool were particularly heavy, losing those contests by a combined 7-0 scoreline.
Friendlies or not, there were concerns. There was even speculation of what a slow start might mean for manager Carlo Ancelotti. There were questions of what the retirements of captain Philipp Lahm and midfielder Xabi Alonso might mean for the squad.
The victory in the German Super Cup may have eased some concerns, but it was far from the convincing Bayern that have bossed the Bundesliga for half a decade. There were mistakes in the Cup against Dortmund, and the victory was pulled out by the skin of their teeth — an 88th-minute equaliser and victory in penalties.
A 5-0 triumph in the DFB-Pokal against third-division side Chemnitzer FC hardly was going to move the needle. But Friday’s victory is a much bigger indication Bayern are not going anywhere anytime soon.
The new boys Niklas Sule and Sebastian Rudy, both making their debuts after their moves from Hoffenheim, combined for Bayern’s opener with Sule finding the net on Rudy’s delivery just nine minutes into the contest.
Then fellow debutante Corentin Tolisso made an instant impact of his own, heading home a ball played in by Arturo Vidal to double the advantage just nine minutes later.
Robert Lewandowski was the beneficiary of VAR in the second-half, winning a penalty upon review and then slotting home the spot-kick to put his side up 3-0.
There were some worrying signs after that. Admir Mehmedi would find the back of the net in the 65th minute and Leverkusen appeared close to a second quite a few times in the final 45. On a more fortunate day for the visitors, their inspired play in the second-half may have made for a nervy finish.
But on this day, Bayern walked away the comfortable winners. It is a victory that by itself does not mean Bayern’s dominance this season is assured. Nor will it allay fears that the Bundesliga champions will need to take their game to a higher levels by the time the Champions League knock-out stages roll around in 2018.
It did, however, lay down a marker for the Bundesliga. It was a reminder that those who hoped a sluggish pre-season was the sign of a fall for the champions are likely to be disappointed again this season.