Bayern Munich returned to winning ways in preparation for their opening Champions League fixture against Manchester City in midweek with a 2-0 win over Stuttgart.
Mario Gotze gave the defending Bundesliga champions the lead just shy of the half-hour mark and Franck Ribery celebrated his first appearance of the season with the second goal to settle Bayern’s nerves five minutes from time.
The only concern for Bayern was the sight of defender Holger Badstuber limping away with an injury which seems certain to rule him out of Wednesday’s clash with English champions City.
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola resisted the temptation to give Mehdi Benatia a debut, preferring Badstuber, Jerome Boateng and Dante at the heart of his defence with Xabi Alonso making his second start just in front of the back three. Only Alonso was really involved in the game early on, though, as Stuttgart rarely progressed into the final third of the field with the hosts controlling possession.
They did not manage to create any danger until the 15th minute when Gotze’s shot was saved and then, from a Boateng cross, Muller’s header was tipped over by Sven Ulreich.
Antonio Rudiger sent a free header wide of the post at the other end, but that was only a prelude to Bayern going in front. A generous free-kick down the left was awarded and the ball found its way out to Gotze, who threaded his shot through a pack of players, including Robert Lewandowski who tried to help it in with a backheel, but did not make contact as the ball found its way in.
Everything seemed to be going according to plan until Badstuber limped out of the action just before half-time.
He was replaced by Gianluca Gaudino with Bayern reverting to a back four, and there followed a spell in which they appeared to lack their usual organisation. Stuttgart improved and Rudiger should have done better when faced with only Manuel Neuer to beat in the 63rd minute, but he did not connect well with the ball.
Ten minutes later, Alonso’s deflected shot looped over Ulreich and hit the crossbar with the rebound falling for Lewandowski, who struck the right-hand post with his shot.
Lewandowski then set up Ribery, who took one touch with his right foot before threading the ball through the legs of Ulreich with his left to celebrate his return to action with a goal.
And afterwards, boss Guardiola played down Badstuber’s injury, saying: “We’ll get the diagnosis tomorrow. But I don’t think it’s too bad."
Abdoulaye Doucoure’s second-half strike saw Rennes hold champions Paris Saint-Germain to a 1-1 draw in Ligue 1 yesterday.
Doucoure equalised just before the hour-mark to cancel out Zoumana Camara’s opener and ensure Rennes maintained their impressive start to the campaign.
Philippe Montanier’s side, who finished 12th last season, are now third in the table and level on points with second-placed PSG.
Les Parisiens enjoyed a strong start to the contest and almost took the lead when Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s acrobatic effort was blocked by Benoit Costil.
Rennes gradually found their feet, however, and forced Salvatore Sirigu to make his first save of the match when Sanjin Prcic unleashed a long-range effort.
PSG went closest to breaking the deadlock three minutes before half-time and it was Ibrahimovic who was involved again as the striker was given the ball by Marco Verratti and his right-footed volley crashed against the crossbar.
Two minutes later, the visitors did finally open the scoring. Gregory Van der Wiel picked the ball up on the right and his cross found Camara who drove home from close range.
The second half began much as the first had ended and PSG could have doubled their advantage when Lucas Moura found Edinson Cavani, whose shot had to be palmed away by Costil.
In the 56th minute, Rennes made their opponents pay for their wastefulness in front of goal as Paul-Georges Ntep’s delivery was diverted into the net by Doucoure to make it 1-1.
Ibrahimovic tested Costil with a 30-yard free-kick soon after but the Rennes goalkeeper was equal to the shot while Ntep also saw an effort saved late on as the sides were forced to settle for a draw.
It was a third draw in three away trips for PSG, but goalscorer Camara is unworried.
He said: “I would have preferred not to score and to win the match.
“It’s not worrying. It’s a draw. There’s nothing alarming about that.
“Now we have to recover because the Champions League is Wednesday. It’s going to be something else, that’s for sure.”
Boss Laurent Blanc added: “We really wanted to score a second goal but everything was against us.”
Valencia coach Nuno Espirito Santo believes Alvaro Negredo’s signing gives his side the best strike force in the Primera Division.
Negredo has joined on loan from Manchester City, although he is not available for today’s clash with Espanyol as he continues to recover from a broken foot.
Negredo boosts a forward line that already includes Paco Alcacer and Rodrigo, and Nuno is confident he can accommodate all three once Negredo is fit. He said: “I see them playing together. They are compatible. They can play from the start. They are good players with the will to do well.
“When Alvaro is back at 100 per cent, I don’t doubt that we have the best front line in Spain.”
Meanwhile, Sevilla coach Unai Emery insists he has no problem with forward Jose Antonio Reyes.
Reyes has only played 12 minutes this term, when he came off the bench in the UEFA Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid.
Reports emerged suggesting the relationship between Reyes and Emery had broken down. But speaking ahead of today’s game with Getafe, the coach said: “I’m very happy with him, although I know I have to be really on top of him. I know it, the club knows it, we all know it.”
Elsewhere, Villarreal coach Marcelino insists his team cannot afford to dwell on their mounting injury problems, declaring “now is not the time to cry about absentees”.
Forward Giovani dos Santos tore his hamstring while on international duty with Mexico and will be out for at least a month, while full-back Jaume Costa sustained a torn calf muscle during training.
The injury to Costa means Marcelino will use 17-year-old Adrian Marin in defence against Granada today, and he said: “Injuries happen in football and now they are happening to us. They impose limits on us in certain positions but we have to keep looking forward.”