Bayern Munich face RB Leipzig in the German Super Cup on Saturday in their first competitive match since the departure of Robert Lewandowski and Sadio Mane.
Julian Nagelsmann’s men, who secured a 10th straight Bundesliga title last season thanks to Lewandowski’s 35 league goals, have been busy in the transfer market.
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African Player of the Year Mane arrived from Liverpool after six trophy-laden years with the Reds, while Netherlands centre-back Mathijs de Ligt joined from Juventus for 67 million euros ($68.2 million).
Ajax duo Nosir Mizrawi and Ryan Gravenbruch have also signed for Bayern, while teenager Matthijs Thiel swapped Rennes for the Allianz Arena as a potential long-term replacement for Lewandowski.
Qutb left for Barcelona after scoring 344 goals for the Bavarians, second only to Gerd Müller on their all-time list.
But Nagelsmann believes the €45 million deal was good for his club.
“It was a good deal for Bayern,” admitted Nagelsmann earlier this month. “It’s difficult. He scored a lot of goals and was one of Bayern’s big stars.
“But he would have left anyway, if it hadn’t been this season it would have been next, so we would have had this challenge a year later and that’s why the deal is not so bad for Bayern.”
The German champions will have to adapt to life without a natural focal point.
Mane could play centrally in a more fluid front three with Serge Gunbury and Thomas Muller.
The match at the Red Bull Arena will be a chance for both sides to set a mark for the new season, with Nagelsmann’s former club Leipzig progressing after winning their first major trophy last term in the German Cup. Hope is expressed.
“It’s an important game because it’s a title, but also to make a statement,” Nagelsmann said.
Leipzig are a hungry young club always looking to challenge Bayern’s status. It is important to make a small statement and show your strength.
– Believe in looking for a quick start –
Mane, who netted 120 times for Liverpool, has scored in both of his pre-season appearances for Bayern.
“You can see he knows he needs it when it matters,” Nagelsmann added. “I’m sure he’ll have a great game.”
The match comes as Bayern look to win their bid to sign Austrian midfielder Konrad Leimer from Leipzig.
Their transfer strategy this year has marked a clear break from their usual strategy of raiding the talent pool of other Bundesliga clubs.
Bayern were recently criticized by Leipzig managing director Oliver Mintzloff, whose side lost Davit Apamacano and Marcel Sabitzer to their Bundesliga rivals last season.
“I have a great relationship with Ollie,” insisted Nagelsmann. “We talk on the phone often. Everything is fine.”
Bayern may be ushering in a new era, but no matter the result on Saturday, they will be red-hot favorites to land an 11th straight Bundesliga crown this term.
In a run of 10 consecutive titles, Bayern have closed the gap of at least 10 points to the second-placed team on eight occasions.
Having flexed their muscles in the transfer market, pretenders like Leipzig have a lot of work to do to mount a serious challenge.
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