Mario Gotze shows confidence in Bayern Munich cup triumph
Seventeen-time winners Bayern Munich cruised into the second round of the German Cup for the 21st season in succession with a subdued 3-1 win in Karlsruhe against fifth-tier Nottingen. Bayern have reached at least the semifinals in each of the past six seasons and are now one step closer to a seventh straight appearance in the DFB Pokal's final four.
Arturo Vidal's fourth minute penalty set Bayern on their way before Nottingen's motley crew of students, apprentices, an HR manager, insurance salesman and an advertising agent had the temerity to equalise through (student) Niklas Hecht-Zirpel. Ex-Dortmund duo Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski killed off any giant-killing hopes by the half-hour, before a below-par Bayern coasted through the second period, failing to add any further goals against their plucky Oberliga Baden-Wurttemberg opponents.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Sven Ulreich, 5 -- A competitive 2015-16 debut for the ex-Stuttgart goalkeeper who takes over the bench-warming role from Pepe Reina as Manuel Neuer's back-up. Ulreich's handling was suspect throughout and he'll be disappointed, in particular, that he couldn't keep out the amateur side's equaliser.
DF Rafinha, 6 -- The twice-capped Brazilian was his dependable self at right-back, which allowed Philipp Lahm to slot into midfield with Vidal. Expect this scenario a lot in less crucial games this season.
DF Jerome Boateng, 6 -- Bayern again looked (too) vulnerable against the counter-attack, even against lower-league opponents -- typified by Boateng's yellow card on the hour mark for deliberate handball on the halfway line.
DF David Alaba, 6 -- The Austrian left-back was caught out for Nottigen's equaliser as he eases himself back into the fray after a long injury break.
MF Philipp Lahm, 6 -- Germany's World Cup-winning captain capably joined forces with new-boy Vidal in midfield before being hooked off for Arjen Robben with the game in the bag.
MF Juan Bernat, 6 -- Solid if unspectacular on the left-side of midfield. Picked up a yellow card for a typically uncompromising foul in the final quarter of the match.
MF Joshua Kimmich, 6 -- The highly-rated 20-year-old enjoyed a steady competitive debut in the star-studded Bayern midfield, before making way for Dante for the final quarter of an hour.
MF Arturo Vidal, 7 -- A first competitive start for the €37m signing from Juventus. Vidal opened the scoring from the spot in the fourth minute, followed by the inevitable yellow card for a late challenge a matter of moments after his first goal in a Bayern shirt. Vidal was sensibly replaced at the break as he'd been walking the red card tightrope since the sixth minute and also looked to have landed heavily on his shoulder before the break.
MF Douglas Costa, 7 -- The Brazilian put in another lively and energetic performance down the left flank. Long-term absentee Franck Ribery needs to come back fully-fit and refreshed in order to fight for his place in the side.
FW Mario Gotze, 7 -- Gotze crowned a confidence-boosting display with his first goal for Bayern since the Champions League last 16 clash versus Shakhtar Donetsk in March. The World Cup final winning goal-scorer will be hoping Bundesliga opponents will provide as many holes as the spirited amateurs from Nottingen.
FW Robert Lewandowski, 6 -- Lewandowski opened his account for the season and enjoyed his day out in the sun with his former Dortmund teammate Gotze.
MF Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, 6 -- Hojbjerg replaced Vidal at the interval with the 20-year-old Dane back from a loan spell at Bavarian neighbours Augsburg to bolster manager Pep Guardiola's many midfield options.
MF Arjen Robben, 6 -- Rested for the Audi Cup success in midweek on home soil, Robben returned on 55 minutes in his skipper's stead. The Dutchman couldn't provide any cutting edge in the final 35 minutes but he didn't really need to.
DF Dante, NR -- A 15 minute cameo for the Brazilian who Bayern want to move but cannot find a buyer.
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.