Bayern Munich Concludes US Tour At Historic Lambeau Field With Plenty To Ponder

Bayern Munich has concluded their 2022 US Audi Summer Tour with a 0-1 defeat to Manchester City at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. It was the first soccer game at the historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

A capacity crowd of 78,128 saw a game interrupted twice due to heavy thundershowers in the area. First, kickoff was delayed by 15 minutes. Then, 12 minutes in, Erling Haaland scored what would be the game’s only goal. Moments later, the game was again delayed, this time by 45 minutes.

With Bayern having to jet back that evening to Munich, the game was shortened to two times 40 minutes. Perhaps it was the delays and the many substitutions throughout the game, but neither side managed to create many high-scoring chances, and the match ended 1-0.

For Bayern, who had previously defeated D.C. United 6-2 at Audi Field in Washington, the result would be secondary anyhow. Instead, this tour was about two things, getting the squad ready for the post-Lewandowski era and recapturing the American audience after two years in which teams could not travel due to COVID-19.

At an event before the game, Bayern’s executive board member Andreas Jung pointed out that there are 130 million active football fans in the United States. More importantly, 25 million people in the US play soccer, and 18 million of them are under 18. Jung is in charge of sponsorship and events, brand management, new media and IT, merchandising and licenses, international relations, and marketing.

Those numbers are a crucial reasons for Bayern to continue to push for a bigger presence in the United States. In fact, CEO Oliver Kahn pointed out that more Bundesliga teams should be showing a presence in the all-important US market.

“When it comes to international marketing within the DFL (the Bundesliga governing body), then I have to say honestly, there is room to grow,” Kahn said at a pregame press conference. “The distance to the Premier
League is vast; it is something we keep pointing out, and it is something that we can only solve together. We keep saying: ‘we need to show more presence on the international market, and if we manage that, we can also bring in more stars.’ But without it, the Premier League will remain ahead of us. That is something that we need to keep working at together as German football.”

The second aspect of the tour was for Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann to forge a team that could compensate for the departure of star striker Robert Lewandowski. By the time of writing, the Rekordmeister was in final talks of signing 17-year-old center-forward Mathys Tel from Stade Rennais for a package of up to $28 million.

Tel is hugely talented, but the Frenchman is not expected to fill the Lewandowski gap. The US tour highlighted that Nagelsmann will in the future bank on a multi-pronged attack. Instead of one no.9, Bayern’s attack will rely on a multitude of attacking players. Against D.C. United, for example, Bayern started with a 4-2-2-2 formation that could be converted to a 3-5-2, with Sadio Mané and Serge Gnabry forming the attack.

The future of the attack was one of the biggest themes of the US Audi Tour and Nagelsmann, Kimmich, Müller, Gnabry all pointed out that scoring will be spread across several shoulders next season. That is not to say Bayern will not sign a no.9 next year, Nagelsmann is a big fan of England striker Harry Kane, who he deemed as too expensive for this summer.

What then are the takeaways? From a marketing point of view the tour was certainly a success. Sell-out crowds at Audi Field, and more importantly, Lambeau Field underlined the growth of the game in the United States. The significant presence of Bayern fans at both games shows that the Rekordmeister is very much viewed as a giant of the sport overseas.

On the field there are still questionmarks. Nagelsmann will have to replace Lewandowski without a typical proven no.9. Against City the defense struggled at times and new signing Matthijs de Ligt will need time to be integrated.

In fact, Nagelsmann will have plenty to ponder on his flight back to Munich. We will get the answers on whether he has found the right conclusions in one week when Bayern play RB Leipzig the DFL Supercup.

Manuel Veth is the host of the Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast and the Area Manager USA at Transfermarkt. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA, and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth

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