Niklas Süle and Corentin Tolisso marked the Bundesliga debuts for the champions with early goals, with Leverkusen’s defence left all at sea.
Robert Lewandowski added a third from the spot after the first use of the video assistant referee in the Bundesliga, and whilst Leverkusen threatened much more in the second half, all they had to show for their efforts was a strike from Admir Mehmedi.
Debuants flourish as Bayern start with intent
Bayern are 27-time champions of Germany, with 26 of those titles coming in the Bundesliga era, and this was the start of their attempt to win an unprecedented sixth-consecutive title, although they have had a more than indifferent pre-season. Leverkusen, under new boss Heiko Herrlich, were looking to bounce back from a disastrous last campaign when they only narrowly avoided being dragged into the bottom three.
Bayern handed first league starts to three of their summer signings, namely Tolisso, Süle and Sebastian Rudy, and the former TSG 1899 Hoffenheim pair began on cloud nine at the Allianz Arena. A ninth-minute Rudy free-kick, from the left, was headed in by Süle to give Bayern their almost inevitable early lead.
Tolisso wouldn’t have to wait too long to make his first contribution, which came after Karim Bellarabi missed the chance to put Leverkusen quickly level. It was a poor goal for Leverkusen to concede, with Bernd Leno unconvincingly clearing a corner straight to Arturo Vidal. He headed it to Tolisso at the right post, who was able to put it in.
This game was already reminiscent of the hammerings Bayern handed down to Hamburger SV and Werder Bremen in the last two season opening matches, and they were looking good for a third. Tolisso almost scored again, hitting the post after a superb display of pinball football, whilst a Thomas Müller attempt was saved by Leno after a good ball from Franck Ribéry.
The latter stages of the half were ruined by torrential rain though, forcing fans to retreat from the arena although the recently re-laid pitch was holding up well. By that point Leverkusen had flourished a little. Kevin Volland forced a save from Sven Ulreich soon after the second goal, whilst Wendell wasted a good chance from a free-kick by putting it straight into the Bayern wall. With conditions worsening, all involved would have been glad to retreat inside after only half of the allotted minute added on was played.
VAR makes Bundesliga bow to give Lewandowski penalty
The start of the second half was ultimately delayed by 15 minutes due to the weather, with Leverkusen bringing Aleksander Dragovic and Julian Brandt, a surprise omission from the starting line-up, straight on for the restart; Sven Bender and Leon Bailey made way.
Brandt would make an impact but not before Bayern got a third, thanks to a moment of Bundesliga history. Lewandowski felt he was impeded by Charles Aránguiz attempting to meet a cross from David Alaba, but referee Tobias Stieler initially waved away the appeals. Eventually he referred the call to VAR for the first time in the German top flight, and it was decided that Aránguiz had tugged him enough on the shoulder to bring him down in the box. Lewandowski made no mistake from the spot, leaving Leno static.
3-0 up, but Bayern’s defending left a little to be desired. Brandt made his first impact, although he could have done better than shoot wide after Dominik Kohr’s through ball. Both were involved in an even better double opportunity just after. From Bellarabi’s cross, Brandt had his side-footed shot saved by Ulreich, before Joshua Kimmich blocked Kohr’s rebound effort.
Eventually Leverkusen left Bayern exposed once too often. Brandt played his part again, laying off to Mehmedi at the end of an excellent Leverkusen move, with the winger firing past Ulreich into the roof of the net. His free-kick a few minutes later could easily have then lead to a second, but Kohr headed a great chance wide.
Leverkusen didn’t have the rub of the green in the closing stages, as an attempted clearance from Alaba went into the face of Süle and then the arms of Ulreich, when it could so easily have gone in. A Kevin Kampl shot then went off Mehmedi straight into Brandt, who had no time to react as the ball went wide. Bayern and Lewandowski had two good chances to make sure of the win – one he put into the side netting, before uncharacteristically going wide when through on goal – but the three points were pretty much already assured.