Bayern Munich were not the biggest club in their own city, let alone the country, when Gerd Muller signed in 1964.

The Bavarians' major trophy haul at that time consisted of a single league championship in 1932 and a maiden DFB-Pokal success 25 years later. Muller joined a second-tier side.

On Tuesday, two days after the club great's passing, Bayern celebrated his life in fitting fashion with a record-extending ninth DFL-Supercup triumph – a competition they have to win silverware simply to enter.

The Bundesliga dominance, cup after cup and six European crowns... all that history can be traced back to Muller's decision to head for Bayern rather than rivals 1860 Munich.

He was there for the first four Bundesliga titles – the top scorer on each occasion – and for three European Cups in three years, Muller's standards slipping as Jupp Heynckes was the leading marksman in the third season.

In 15 years, the remarkable forward tallied 566 Bayern goals, a benchmark that stands to this day. Muller's Bundesliga total of 365 is also unsurpassed.

As those numbers show, breaking a Muller record is no simple task, but Robert Lewandowski finally did so last season when scoring 41 goals in a single Bundesliga campaign, edging beyond the legend's 40 in 1971-72.

"I achieved a goal that once seemed impossible to imagine," Lewandowski wrote on his Twitter page in May. "I'm so unbelievably proud to make history for Bayern, and to play a part in creating the stories that fans will tell their children – following in the footsteps of legends like Gerd Muller."

 

It made sense then for Lewandowski to be front and centre again at Signal Iduna Park as Muller was remembered.

He clutched a number nine shirt ahead of kick-off as a moment's silence broke into applause, the Borussia Dortmund fans recognising a legacy that goes beyond club lines.

It was a lovely tribute, but Muller would have been more familiar with Lewandowski's subsequent nods to his greatest predecessor.

Muller was the ultimate 18-yard box centre-forward, a mantle Lewandowski has taken on and exhibited expertly against his former side.

Manuel Neuer, another of the Bayern players carrying a Muller shirt, kept Dortmund at bay at one end – finishing with four saves – before his club's latest outstanding number nine showed Erling Haaland and BVB's team of young pretenders how it is done at the other.

"Lewandowski has proven over several years now that he is a world-class striker," coach Julian Nagelsmann said before the game. "Erling hasn't been in the league that long, although his scoring rate is great."

That proven Lewandowski class brought a brutal, brilliant opener, his header from Serge Gnabry's left-wing cross thumped into the bottom-left corner. The outcome of a chance that was worth a moderate 0.29 expected goals (xG) was never in doubt.

And Lewandowski was involved again, in the box again, when Bayern appeared to put the game beyond doubt four minutes after half-time, waving a leg towards Alphonso Davies' low cross in an attempt at a flick that ran instead for Thomas Muller's tap-in, the late Bayern superstar's namesake having been the third visiting player to hold up a red shirt in a pre-match show of respect.

Perhaps the linesman was a Gerd Muller fan, too, twice ruling in Bayern's favour when Youssoufa Moukoko and Haaland each ran away to score – the second call considerably closer than the first.

There was no ruling out a blistering Marco Reus strike, which briefly threatened Bayern's control, but Manuel Akanji's dallying let Lewandowski in again and the Dortmund fans know exactly how that tends to go. This time with an xG of 0.25 – merely the fifth-best chance of the match – the 32-year-old made it look routine.

A seventh Supercup strike, Lewandowski extended another record that is all his own – albeit in a competition Muller never graced.

The Poland international is Muller's nearest challenger in Bundesliga terms, with 278 goals, and deserves to be counted in such company, even if he has just added to Bayern's reputation rather than transformed it. Lewandowski has also now scored in 14 successive matches for Bayern, which means he needs to score in just two more consecutive games to match another of Muller's all-time records (16, in 1969-70).

Meanwhile, this was not Haaland's night, but he too could have one eye on the sort of standards Muller set. Still just 21, Haaland has 42 goals in 44 Bundesliga games – or one every 84.8 minutes – and Hasan Salihamidzic has acknowledged Bayern would be "amateurs" not to consider signing the striker.

Given the apparent inevitability of a transfer at the end of this campaign, the BVB sensation would seemingly have to join Germany's powerhouse to stay in the Bundesliga and close on Muller or Lewandowski.

Bayern do not need a replacement up front just yet, though, after their latest legend ensured 2021-22 would continue an almost constant theme since Muller broke all barriers, with silverware heading back to Bavaria.

Cristiano Ronaldo is suddenly the name dominating the transfer rumour mill.

The Portuguese superstar is reportedly drawing interest from multiple quarters.

Is a departure from Juventus on the cards?

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO SPECULATION ABOUNDS

Ronaldo is the subject of widespread speculation around Europe. 

Paris Saint-Germain would like Ronaldo to replace Kylian Mbappe if the France international departs for Real Madrid this summer window or next, says Calciomercato, opening up the tantalising prospect of a partnership with Lionel Messi.

Meanwhile, El Chiringuito suggests Carlo Ancelotti could make a move to bring Ronaldo back to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Elsewhere, Corriere dello Sport claims Ronaldo has offered his services to Manchester City.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona could swap Philippe Coutinho to Arsenal in their bid to land Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, according to Sky Sports. 

- Despite signing an extension with PSG through 2023 just a few months ago, Julian Draxler could be on the way out. Kicker says a Bundesliga team, likely Bayer Leverkusen, have made a €20m offer. 

- Hector Bellerin wants out of Arsenal, The Athletic reports, saying Inter are monitoring the situation. The Star says the Gunners could move him back to Barca in a swap deal for Emerson Royal.

- Juventus will make a final bid of €35million to Sassuolo for Manuel Locatelli, reports Fabrizio Romano. 

- Tottenham want to add Patrick Bamford to their attack but Leeds are keen to sign him to a long-term extension, says the Mirror. 

- West Ham are still trying to land Kurt Zouma from Chelsea, says the Guardian.

- Lyon are looking to pry Emerson Palmieri away from Chelsea on a loan deal with an option to buy, L'Equipe reports. 

- Clement Lenglet could be on the move from Barcelona to Roma, says Gianluigi Longari. 

Wolfsburg have been thrown out of the DFB-Pokal for making too many substitutions in a first-round win over Preussen Munster.

The sports court of the German Football Association (DFB) delivered their verdict on Monday, declaring Munster as 2-0 victors after Wolfsburg.

The fourth-tier side lodged their initial complaint a day after a 3-1 defeat to the Bundesliga team on August 8, stating that Mark van Bommel had sent on six substitutes instead of the allocated five.

Van Bommel brought on Admir Mehmedi for Maximilian Phillip in extra-time, with the match officials and Wolfsburg seemingly unaware he had already made five changes.

Announcing the sports court's decision on Monday, deputy chairman Stephan Oberholz commented: "The clubs are responsible for substitutions. One of their basic obligations is to find out about substitution options and to act accordingly.

"VfL Wolfsburg has a duty against this violated and thus frivolously and avoidably committed the central error in the inadmissible sixth substitution process.

"The club cannot invoke exonerating negligence on the part of the referee team. It can remain unanswered whether the fourth official advised those responsible at the club incorrectly or provided inaccurate information during the exchange process.

"Even if one assumes such wrong information, the main initial error is to be blamed on the club, so that any joint responsibility of the referee resigns completely."

Wolfsburg's sporting managing director Jorg Schmadtke joked after the error that those involved would be enrolled on a "basic reading course" but the 2015 DFB-Pokal winners are expected to submit a further appeal after Monday's verdict.

Schmadtke's main query centres around the match officials, who Wolfsburg claim were asked several times for clarification on the substitution quota.

In contrast, Munster's sporting director Peter Niemeyer, who took part in the DFB's hearing, said after the announcement: "We are of course very happy that the sports court ruled in our favour. Far be it from us to speak of winners or losers here. 

"In an exceptional situation, a game-influencing mistake was made, which has now been subsequently corrected. 

"We are of course happy for our team, which surpassed itself in the first round of the cup, for our fans and the whole environment, which can look forward to another highlight in the Prussian Stadium."

Munster are set to go into the second-round draw on August 25, with the subsequent tie set to take place on October 26-27.

Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer has explained that the club cannot afford to keep Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich "at any cost".

Goretzka has just 11 months left on his contract with the Bundesliga champions, while Kimmich has two years left on his deal at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern are intent on renewing the duo's contracts with long-term offers, but Hainer was adamant his club will not succumb to excessive wage demands as they attempt to maintain financial stability post-COVID-19 pandemic.

"They will certainly not be kept at any cost," Hainer told Kicker. "The players know what they have at Bayern, they are paid very well here too, everyone gets their salary.

"And they can win titles with us now, and also in the future."

Kimmich joined Bayern in 2015 and has won 16 trophies with the Bavarian giants – 10 of those with midfield partner Goretzka.

Since Kimmich's arrival, only David Alaba (176), Thomas Muller (187) and Robert Lewandowski (189) have played more Bundesliga games than the midfielder (174).

The 26-year-old's 10,620 successful passes are more than any team-mate at the club in the same time period, while he also ranks first for recoveries, having completed 961.

Goretzka, who signed three years after Kimmich, netted five times and provided the same number of Bundesliga assists last term, leading to speculation of a move to Manchester United.

 

Hainer's concerns stretch further than new deals for the midfield pairing.

He rubbished UEFA's reported plans to get rid of Financial Fair Play and introduce a "luxury tax", punishing clubs that exceed an agreed wage cap in Europe's major leagues.

"I'm not at all convinced by this luxury tax," Hainer added. "In the event of violations, a club pays 100 million euros in luxury tax, which is shared among the other clubs.

"This money does not help them decisively and does not really hurt the financial giants. We need valid regulations with clear consequences for fair competition.

"Strong attempts at sanctions have too often been revised or toned down in the past. It doesn't work that way."

Despite trying to balance financial constraints and securing new contracts for key first-team stars, Hainer hinted Bayern could still be active in the transfer window – having only spent money on Dayot Upamecano so far.

"We are monitoring the transfer market, which is open until the end of August, to see whether there are still one or two possibilities," Bayern's president continued.

"But we almost exclusively have national team players of the highest quality, so there is no urgent need to sign someone quickly."

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann has hailed the "extraordinary" Erling Haaland, but says the Borussia Dortmund star has to maintain his form over several years to compare to Robert Lewandowski.

The two prolific goalscorers are expected to come face-to-face on Tuesday when Dortmund host Bayern at Signal Iduna Park in the 2021 DFL-Supercup, a trophy the Bundesliga champions have won in four of the last five campaigns.

Haaland enters the match on the back of a strong start to the season, having followed up a hat-trick against lower-league Wehen Wiesbaden in the DFB-Pokal with two goals and two assists in Saturday's 5-2 Bundesliga victory against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Norway international Haaland now has 62 goals in 61 appearances since making his BVB debut in January 2020, including 42 goals in 44 Bundesliga games for an average of 1.06 goals per 90 minutes in the competition.

Only ex-Dortmund man Lewandowski can better that return over the same period, scoring 57 goals from an identical number of appearances in the German top flight – an average of 1.35 per 90 minutes.

While Nagelsmann has been impressed by Haaland's incredible season-and-a-half in the Bundesliga, the recently appointed Bayern boss still thinks the 21-year-old has some way to go to match Lewandowski's consistency.

"Lewandowski has proven over several years now that he is a world-class striker," Nagelsmann said at Monday's pre-match news conference. "Erling hasn't been in the league that long, though his scoring rate is great.

"The other difference is age. Lewandowski has a lot more experience on his side than Haaland. In terms of similarities, they are both an unbelievable goal danger. But I am incredibly happy to have Lewandowski here."

 

The weekend win over Frankfurt was the first time Haaland has provided two assists in a single competitive game for Dortmund in his 19 months at the club.

Keeping Haaland off the scoresheet on Tuesday will be a huge task, but Nagelsmann is confident his players – including goalkeeper Manuel Neuer – are capable of doing so in the battle between last term's German cup and league winners.

"He is of course an excellent striker. Extraordinary. In addition to his goals, he is also robust and fast," Nagelsmann said. "We have to get close to him to prevent him from making runs in behind our defence.

"We have to be physically ready and be prepared to initiate the counter-press after we lose the ball so that quick passes up the other end of the field are prevented. We can't prevent that completely, but we still have the best goalkeeper in the world."

Nagelsmann has endured a difficult start to life as Bayern boss, not helped by a number of players returning late to training, with the reigning Bundesliga champions yet to win any of his five games in charge.

Bayern were held 1-1 by Borussia Monchengladbach in their first competitive game under Nagelsmann on Friday and the 34-year-old coach is eager to get off the mark with some silverware in midweek.

"I would like to sign for a win tomorrow and then go on and take the title," he said. "Dortmund have started the season well, whereas we're still waiting for that first win, but I wouldn't look into that too much.

"Of course this is an important match for us, but it's not necessarily important for the rest of the season. Both teams have a few injuries and the season is still young, but we are going there with the aim to win."

Nagelsmann also paid tribute to Bayern's all-time leading goalscorer Gerd Muller, who passed away at the weekend at the age of 75.

"My condolences to Gerd's family and friends," Nagelsmann said. "Yesterday was a sad day for everyone involved in the club. Gerd played a lot of great games and scored some great goals."

Is Kylian Mbappe's future nearing a resolution?

Mbappe is out of contract at the end of the season and the Paris Saint-Germain forward is no closer to extending his contract in the
French capital.

Real Madrid are reportedly poised to pounce.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID NEARING MBAPPE DEAL?

Real Madrid are closing in on Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, according to the front page of Monday's Marca.

Mbappe is in the final year of his PSG contract and he has reportedly made it clear he has no intention of re-signing in Paris.

Long touted to join Madrid, the LaLiga giants' pursuit of Mbappe is set to enter a decisive phase this week.

The Transfer Window podcast, however, claims Liverpool will attempt to sign Mbappe on a free transfer at the end of the 2021-22 season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Barcelona are monitoring Arsenal pair Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as they look to rebuild following Lionel Messi's departure to PSG.

- Inter are eyeing Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne but want a discount on the Italy star, claims Sky Sport Italia. Napoli value Insigne at around €25-30million with one year remaining on his contract. Lazio's Joaquin Correa, Atalanta forward Duvan Zapata and Fiorentina sensation Dusan Vlahovic have also been linked to Inter.

- Sport Italia says Tottenham are in talks with Fiorentina for centre-back Nikola Milenkovic, who has been linked with West Ham. Spurs are also keen on Fiorentina star Vlahovic, according to Sport Italia.

- According to Cadena SER, Antoine Griezmann is open to returning to Atletico Madrid this off-season. Griezmann swapped Atletico for Barca in 2019.

Luka Jovic has decided he wants to join Inter on loan, per Nerazzurri Siamo Noi. The Madrid outcast has also been linked with Eintracht Frankfurt, Sampdoria and Genoa.

Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City are tracking Metz's 18-year-old midfielder Pape Matar Sarr, claims the Daily Mail.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique compared Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe to Brazilian great Ronaldo as he hailed Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

Mbappe and Haaland are two of the most in-demand players in the transfer market, with LaLiga giants Real Madrid reportedly interested in both.

PSG's Mbappe – entering the final year of his contract in Paris – has long been tipped to join Madrid, while Haaland has also been linked with Barca, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

Mbappe scored in PSG's 4-2 Ligue 1 win at home to Strasbourg on Saturday, having now either scored or assisted in seven consecutive matches in the competition (eight goals, four assists).

Haaland took his tally to 62 goals in 61 games for Dortmund after bagging a brace as the German giants opened their Bundesliga season with a 5-2 rout of Eintracht Frankfurt.

Pique was asked to pick between Mbappe and Haaland in an appearance on Twitch following Barca's 4-2 victory over Real Sociedad on Sunday, and he replied: "Mbappe and Haaland are different.

"One is very similar to Ronaldo Luis Nazario, who is Mbappe. Haaland is more powerful, stronger, he is a goal killer."

Barca kicked off the Lionel Messi-less era by seeing off Sociedad at Camp Nou in the opening game of the LaLiga season.

Messi – the club's all-time leading goalscorer – joined PSG after his contract expired, with Barca's financial difficulties forcing the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to leave.

"It was tough," Pique said on Messi's exit. "I have known him since I was 13 years old.

"He has made us all better. We have to accept it because it is reality. We will all step forward to be competitive."

Bayern Munich and Germany great Gerd Muller has died at the age of 75, leaving a remarkable legacy.

Muller spent 15 years at Bayern as a player and remains the club's all-time leading scorer.

He also led West Germany to a European Championship triumph in 1972 and World Cup glory two years later.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform looks at the remarkable career of one of European football's true giants.

BAYERN LEGEND

Muller made 607 appearances in all competitions for Bayern, helping the Bavarian club to four league titles, four DFB-Pokal triumphs and three European Cup successes in the process.

Renowned for his close-range finishing, Muller scored 566 goals, making him Bayern's all-time leading goalscorer.

Indeed, Muller spent his entire Bundesliga stint with Bayern, having come through the ranks at 1861 Nordlingen before moving on to the United States to bookend his playing career with Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

His best scoring season for Bayern came in 1972-73, when he netted 66 times in 49 appearances in total, averaging 1.34 goals per game.

Following the news of his death, Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn said: "The news of Gerd Muller's death affects us all deeply. He is one of the greatest legends in the history of FC Bayern, his achievements are unmatched to this day and will forever be part of the great history of FC Bayern and all of German football.

"As a player and as a person, Gerd Muller stands like no other for FC Bayern and its development into one of the largest clubs in the world. Gerd will be in our hearts forever."

KING OF THE BUNDESLIGA

Muller's tally of 365 goals from 427 appearances still leads the way in the Bundesliga. Across his time in the German top flight, he finished as the top scorer in a record seven seasons, scoring over 30 times on at least five occasions.

Current Bayern star Robert Lewandowski, with 278 strikes in 351 games, is Muller's nearest rival in that regard.

Only in May was one of Muller's long-standing Bundesliga records broken, as Lewandowski scored 41 goals in 2020-21. Muller had set the record for the most in a single campaign (40 from 34 matches) in 1971-72.

Muller also helped himself to 32 hat-tricks in the Bundesliga, with no player having scored more in the history of the competition. In fact, no one else has more than 14.

Another record that remains unbroken is Muller's feat of scoring in 16 consecutive Bundesliga games, which he achieved in 1969-70.

DER BOMBER

Muller did not save all of his scoring exploits for Bayern, of course. He was also Germany's record goalscorer until 2014 with a haul of 68 from 62 caps.

His tally – one that has only been surpassed by Miroslav Klose (71), who played more than twice as many matches (137) – spanned an eight-year career with Die Mannschaft, with Muller making his West Germany debut in 1966 and retiring from international football in 1974.

It was Muller who scored the winner for West Germany in the 1974 World Cup final against the Netherlands at his home ground in Munich – his fourth goal at the tournament.

Two years earlier, 'Der Bomber' had become the first player to score four times in a single European Championship tournament as he led West Germany to Euros glory – the striker netting twice in the semi-final against Belgium before also getting a double in a 3-0 win over the Soviet Union in the final.

To this day, only two other players have scored twice in a Euro final – both of those have been German (Horst Hrubesch in 1980 and Oliver Bierhoff in 1996).

While he tasted success in 1972 and 1974, Muller's finest individual performance at an international tournament came at the 1970 World Cup, as he won the golden boot with an extraordinary 10 goals in six games. Only Just Fontaine (13 in 1958) and Sandor Kocsis (11 in 1954) have plundered more in a single World Cup.

West Germany only managed to claim third place, however, with the famous, Pele-inspired Brazil team of that era going on to triumph in Mexico.

Though the four goals he added in 1974 ensured Muller was the World Cup's record scorer (14) until he was surpassed by Ronaldo (15) in 2006 and then Klose (16) in 2014.

Manchester City's interest in signing Tottenham forward Harry Kane is well known.

The two sides will meet on Sunday in the Premier League with the situation adding spice.

Spurs have held out on City's interest although the matter will develop as the conclusion of the transfer window approaches.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS HOLDING FIRM ON KANE

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is refusing to budge as Manchester City attempt to sign Harry Kane, reports The Telegraph.

Levy will come face to face with City officials in Sunday's Premier League meeting between the two sides.

The report claims the Spurs chairman is unwavering in his plan to retain his best player despite Kane expressing his desire to leave.

ROUND-UP

- Despite that, Tottenham continue to be linked with big-money moves, hinting they are expecting funds in their pockets soon, with Villarreal's Pau Torres firmly in their sights for £55m (€65m) according to The Mirror.

- Tammy Abraham's proposed switch from Chelsea to Roma is imminent according to The Athletic. The fee is reportedly worth €40m (£34m) with a buy-back clause after his second season.

- Calciomercato claims that Bayern Munich are willing to accept Hector Bellerin as part of a straight swap with Arsenal for Corentin Tolisso .

- Despite heavy speculation, Liverpool are yet to formally lodge a bid for Atletico Madrid's Saul Niguez claims AS.

- Former Atletico Madrid and Chelsea striker Diego Costa is set to complete his move to join Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro until December next year reports Fabrizio Romano.

Robert Lewandowski acknowledged Bayern Munich made "a lot of mistakes" in Julian Nagelsmann's first Bundesliga match at the helm as the champions drew 1-1 with Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday.

Bayern were deservedly trailing after 10 minutes, as a poor start was compounded by Alassane Plea beating Manuel Neuer.

They soon sorted themselves out and eventually levelled just before half-time through Lewandowski, who tied a personal record of 11 successive goal-scoring Bundesliga appearances for the club, but Bayern were unable to add to that.

Their wastefulness was underlined by the fact that Bayern's chances had an accumulative expected goals (xG) value of 3.1, with Yann Sommer having an impressive game between the posts for the home side.

 

Sommer's eight saves – a single-match figure that was only bettered six times across all of 2020-21 – ensured Gladbach had a fighting chance in the latter stages and they were arguably denied two clear penalties as Dayot Upamecano clumsily tripped Marcus Thuram twice, and Lewandowski accepts they have lots of room for improvement.

"It's a difficult question, whether we are satisfied or not," he Sat.1. "What we played wasn't perfect football.

"We lacked speed and consistency. We could score, but Gladbach also had great opportunities. Now we have to look to the next game and prepare.

"It's not that easy to play here and the atmosphere was really great. A game like this is something special with spectators and it was always problematic for us here. We have to do a lot of things better."

 

Gladbach players and coaching staff were angered by the two contentious non-penalty calls late in the game, with Adi Hutter adamant Thuram was fouled on at least one occasion.

Referee Marco Fritz did not go to a pitchside monitor to watch a replay, which Hutter felt was "weird", but Nagelsmann thinks the situations were exaggerated by the crowd.

"I think if we have the referee and the video evidence [not calling for a penalty], it's fair," he said.

"Then, of course, the crowd also makes noise and reinforces the subjective feeling. I think there is less discussion in such scenes without a crowd."

In preventing defeat, Nagelsmann avoided becoming the first permanent Bayern coach to lose his first league game in charge since Franz Beckenbauer in 1994.

Now he will set his sights on his first silverware at the club, with Bayern set to face Borussia Dortmund in Tuesday's DFL-Supercup.

Julian Nagelsmann's reign as Bayern Munich head coach began with a 1-1 draw at Borussia Monchengladbach in the first match of the 2021-22 Bundesliga season, with Yann Sommer frustrating the champions.

Nagelsmann, who joined from RB Leipzig during the close season, will have been largely pleased with the overall dominance exerted by Bayern but they were unable to make the most of their chances.

Die Roten looked shaky at the start and were deservedly behind in the 10th minute thanks to Alassane Plea, though Robert Lewandowski – who had previously been thwarted three times by Sommer – volleyed home the equaliser to equal his longest Bundesliga scoring streak (11 matches).

More presentable chances came and went after the interval, with Sommer loving his personal duel with Lewandowski, but the best opportunity of all fell to Gladbach as Bayern were arguably fortunate take a point back to Munich.

Bayern had two lucky escapes early on as Patrick Herrmann shot wide from the edge of the box before then surging on to an exquisite Florian Neuhaus ball only to make a mess of his eventual squared pass to Lars Stindl despite having only Manuel Neuer to beat.

Stindl was picked out by Christoph Kramer, however, with the Gladbach skipper nudging his throughball past Bayern debutant Dayot Upamecano and Plea was on hand to slam past Neuer.

Lewandowski somehow failed to level in the 26th minute when shooting straight at Sommer from point-blank range, but the Pole found his range just before the break as he met Joshua Kimmich's corner with a controlled volley.

 

Bayern had firmly established dominance and that continued into the second half, with a desperate block by Sommer denying Alphonso Davies a near-certain goal and he then stuck out a foot to prevent Lewandowski getting his second of the day soon after.

But Gladbach began to create openings on the break towards the end and Marcus Thuram should have sealed the three points 13 minutes from time when he only got the faintest of touches on Stefan Lainer's pass across the face of goal.

Upamecano was then lucky to avoid conceding two late penalties for clumsy collisions with Thuram, as the spoils were ultimately shared.

Julian Nagelsmann has long seemed destined to be Bayern Munich coach, and the 34-year-old now has his chance after succeeding Hansi Flick.

He has a lot to live up to. Flick, in his 18-month tenure, Flick led Bayern to two Bundesliga titles, one DFB-Pokal, a Champions League triumph, Club World Cup glory, the DFL-Supercup and the UEFA Super Cup – a remarkable seven trophies.

While Nagelsmann settles into life in the hottest of coaching seats in Germany, his former team RB Leipzig will look to finally make a title challenge last, this time under new coach Jesse Marsch.

Borussia Dortmund scraped into the Champions League places thanks to a super run late in the season, and now Marco Rose will look to build on their DFB-Pokal success in his first season in charge.

Just what can we expect from each of Germany's big three in 2021-22?


Bayern Munich

Bayern ultimately claimed their ninth successive Bundesliga title with ease last term and Robert Lewandowski was once again the driving force. He had to wait until the last kick of the last day, but he finally broke Gerd Muller's long-standing Bundesliga record of 41 goals in a single campaign.

Unsurprisingly, Bayern scored the most goals in Germany's top tier in 2020-21, netting 99 times across their 34 fixtures. Their tally of 483 chances was also by far the most in the division, 54 ahead of second-ranked Leipzig (429) in that regard, though they conceded 44 times while the Leipzig defence under Nagelsmann was the stingiest, with only 32 goals conceded. 

Bayern averaged 65.39 per cent possession and had 1,304 touches in the opposition box, over 400 more than any other side.

However, Nagelsmann does have to contend with the loss of some players who have been crucial to Bayern's dominance. David Alaba has joined Real Madrid, while fellow stalwarts Javi Martinez and Jerome Boateng also left on free transfers.

Dayot Upamecano has made the same switch from Leipzig as Nagelsmann, and the young centre-back adds pace and dynamism to Bayern's backline. Other than that, the squad remains largely the same, with Sven Ulreich having returned after a spell at Hamburg, while Omar Richards arrived on a free transfer from Reading.

Even without much more in the way of incomings, it is difficult to see Bayern letting the chance to make it 10 titles in a row slip from their grasp.

 

Dortmund

Last season was a difficult campaign for Dortmund, but it was one which ultimately ended successfully. They clinched Champions League qualification and ran riot against Leipzig to lift the DFB-Pokal.

It was a fine parting gift from Edin Terzic, who took over on an interim basis after Lucien Favre was relieved of his duties, and now Rose – whose Borussia Monchengladbach team slumped in the back half of the season and missed out on Europe – will look to reshape Dortmund in his own way.

Renowned for attacking, front-foot football, Rose's style, if all goes to plan, is bound to be a hit with the Dortmund fans upon their return to Signal Iduna Park.

Dortmund may have sold Jadon Sancho, but they still have Norway sensation Erling Haaland, who scored 27 Bundesliga goals last season from 93 attempts, giving him a shot conversion rate of 29.03 per cent, the third-highest in the league out of players to have scored 10 or more times.

Donyell Malen has arrived as Sancho's replacement, and Rose has already been talking up the Netherlands youngster, while goalkeeper Gregor Kobel has arrived from Stuttgart. Like Bayern, Dortmund said goodbye to a club legend in the form of Lukasz Piszczek, but with Marco Reus, Thorgan Hazard, Malen and Haaland complemented by the likes of Julian Brandt and Jude Bellingham, there should be plenty of cause for optimism.

It might well be Haaland's final season at the club, and you would not put it past the youngster, who also set up six goals last term, to propel Dortmund into the title race, back where they belong.

 

RB Leipzig

There are plenty of quality teams competing with the three leading lights, and it would certainly not be surprising to see Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt or Gladbach mount a serious push for Champions League football.

However, Leipzig have well and truly established themselves as a Champions League regular now, and will be looking to Marsch, who has made the transition from sister club Salzburg, to continue Nagelsmann's work.

Leipzig sold Timo Werner to Chelsea in 2020, and netting just 60 times, they clearly missed the striker. Indeed, midfielder Marcel Sabitzer, with eight goals, was their leading scorer, with forwards Alexander Sorloth and Yussuf Poulsen only managing five each.

In Andre Silva, signed from Frankfurt, Leipzig have a forward who scored more than Haaland in the Bundesliga last season, with the Portugal international finding the net 28 times in 32 appearances.

Silva boasted an impressive 'big chance', as defined by Opta, conversion rate of 55 per cent, while only Lewandowski (137) had more than the former Milan man's 117 attempts. Dani Olmo and Christopher Nkunku – who supplied nine and six assists respectively last season – can provide the creativity, with Poulsen and Sorloth able to offer Marsch a variety of attacking options. Caden Clark, who is starring in MLS, will arrive before the turn of the year, while Dominik Szoboszlai is almost like a new signing, given he is yet to feature for the club since his arrival in January due to injury.

Leipzig have faced a reshuffle in what had been a strong defence, with key man Upamacano departing while Ibrahima Konate has also left for Liverpool, though the acquisition of Salzburg's highly rated Mohamed Simakan shows the production line is still ticking along, and a Champions League place will be the minimum expectation. 

Alphonso Davies is back for Bayern Munich, but Julian Nagelsmann has been hit by another injury blow ahead of his belated bow with Benjamin Pavard ruled out.

Nagelsmann will get his Bayern reign under way at Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga on Friday, having seen last week's DFB-Pokal opener against Bremer postponed due to coronavirus-related quarantine measures imposed on the lower-league side.

That time has allowed left-back Davies to recover, though, making a swift return from ankle ligament damage suffered on international duty with Canada last month.

Davies played only 23 league games last season but led all Bayern defenders in recoveries (201) and boosts a back line that will now miss Pavard due to a training-ground ankle setback of his own.

"Phonzie did quite well and made a good impression," Nagelsmann said in Thursday's pre-match news conference. "It is an advantage that he is a model athlete.

"He won't be able to play the full 90 minutes yet, but I already have in mind that he will start.

"We will see how far his legs carry him. He is definitely a candidate for the first XI. We're glad he's back.

"That [injury] with Benji is very, very annoying because he played a good pre-season. He's a player I've scheduled for his position. Now he's gone for a few weeks.

"When he comes back depends on the healing process. We don't know exactly how long.

"We have players in the squad like Bouna [Sarr], Niki [Sule] or Josip [Stanisic] who can replace him."

Pavard's absence will be particularly frustrating for Nagelsmann as he has identified the defence as an area in which Bayern must improve.

While Nagelsmann's RB Leipzig boasted the best record in the Bundesliga last term (32 goals conceded), Bayern shipped 44 goals – their most since 1995-96 (46).

It ultimately did not cost the champions as they picked up 22 points from losing positions, more than any other club, but their new coach insists this approach is not sustainable.

"This is a decisive factor that we want to improve," he said. "Nobody wants to always chase after a 0-2 deficit.

"We would do well to bring in more stability defensively. Defending always has to do with attitude."

Bayern have already made a change at the back, replacing David Alaba with Dayot Upamecano, but additional transfer activity may occur further up the field.

Nagelsmann acknowledged the Bavarian giants were currently reliant on "13 or 14 players" staying healthy, and they have been linked with Leipzig midfielder Marcel Sabitzer to add further depth.

"I know Marcel very well, I've worked with him for a long time," Nagelsmann said. "He is a very good player.

"Basically, we handle this, as in recent years, that we do not comment on rumours that are floating around anywhere in the transfer market."

Bayern Munich are entering a new era under Julian Nagelsmann, but it looks unlikely much will change when it comes to their dominance of the Bundesliga in 2021-22.

It could be another good season for Wolfsburg, but things are not looking too good for Greuther Furth, according to Stats Perform predictions.

The Stats Perform League Prediction Model, created by Stats Perform AI using Opta data, has analysed the division ahead of the new season to assign percentages to potential outcomes for each club.

The model estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) based on teams' attacking and defensive qualities, which considers four years' worth of results, with weighting based on recency and the quality of opposition. The season is then simulated 10,000 times to calculate the likelihood of each outcome.

Let's see what we can (likely) expect from the new Bundesliga season...

 

NO STOPPING NAGELSMANN

It looks like Nagelsmann's first season at the Allianz Arena is set to be a positive one. The predictor model gives Bayern a huge 84.3 per cent chance of winning the title for the 10th time in a row.

With the loss of David Alaba mitigated by the signing of Dayot Upamecano, there is little reason to doubt Bayern's credentials even as their new coach gets to grip with the job. Indeed, they are given just a 0.1 per cent chance of failing to qualify for the Champions League, while the likelihood of relegation stands at a big, fat zero.

Borussia Dortmund might have lost Jadon Sancho but they are still expected to be Bayern's biggest challengers, the Stats Perform model giving them an 11.7 per cent chance of a first title since 2012. RB Leipzig, third last term, have just a 2.9 per cent chance of finishing first, while Wolfsburg are fourth-favourites at a lowly 0.6 per cent. At least their chances of a Champions League spot stand at a strong 49.6 per cent.

TOP-FOUR TENSION

Last term's top four look likely to repeat their league positions, but don't discount Eintracht Frankfurt from a surprise Champions League place – they're given a 30.8 per cent chance of qualifying for Europe's top tournament.

Similarly, Bayer Leverkusen have just under a one-in-four chance of a top-four spot, with Borussia Monchengladbach at 14.7 per cent – slightly above their likelihood of a Europa League place.

 

BOCHUM OF THE PILE

Bochum won the second-tier title last term to return to the Bundesliga for the first time in 11 years. Their stay is not expected to be a long one, however: the Stats Perform model gives them a 54.8 per cent chance of being relegated in 2021-22.

Still, it could be worse. Greuther Furth are the favourites for the drop at 59.7 per cent, with a 15.8 per cent of finishing the season in the relegation play-off spot.

Cologne (27 per cent) and Augsburg (25.8 per cent) are the other favourites for the drop, while all four sides are given 18th out of 18 as their lowest probable finish.

Arminia Bielefeld fans should not feel too comfortable, either, given their side have a 19 per cent chance of going down.

Lionel Messi has officially left Barcelona following Sunday's press conference and farewell.

Paris Saint-Germain have been widely linked with a move for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

The Argentina international admitted that a move to PSG was a possibility but said nothing was confirmed.

TOP STORY - MONDAY PSG MEDICAL FOR MESSI

Messi is scheduled to have a medical with PSG on Monday before he completes his free transfer move from Barcelona, according to L'Equipe.

The Argentina international bid farewell to Barcelona on Sunday and the Parisians appear the frontrunners to sign him.

The report says PSG and Messi have almost agreed to all the final details of the contract, with ESPN claiming he will be unveiled at a special ceremony at the Eiffel Tower this week.

 

ROUND-UP

- Inter are targeting Anthony Martial as they look to replace Romelu Lukaku, who is expected to join Chelsea, reports The Sun. Manchester United are believed to be ready to sell him for £50million. Inter want Martial initially on a season-long loan.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Jose Mourinho's Roma are plotting a move to sign French striker Alexandre Lacazette from Arsenal. The stumbling block may be that Lacazette wants to play Champions League football, which Roma cannot offer this season.

- Arsenal are lining up a move for Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic if they cannot land Tammy Abraham from Chelsea, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. The Serbian scored 21 league goals for Fiorentina last term.

- Arsenal and Newcastle have agreed to a fee of £25m for English midfielder Joe Willock, claims Sky Sports. Willock spent the second half of last season on loan with the Magpies.

- The Sun claims that Southampton are trying to lure Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back to the club on loan from Liverpool.

 

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