Dortmund 0-1 Bayern. A rather unspectacular scoreline after an unspectacular match. Yes, it was heated at times, as challenges were flying in right left and center – especially in the first half, Mario Götze was booed and bananas were thrown into Manuel Neuer’s area which had *Koan Neuer* written on it, but the actual excitement on the pitch failed.
Once again Borussia Dortmund brought a knife to a sniper-shootout. Annoyingly Pep Guardiola didn’t miss that BVB have a very, very hard time against defensively set up teams and so he threw totaalvoetbal out the window and replaced it with a bit of catenaccio. How dare he? This is Bayern Munich, they are supposed to shift their defense high up the pitch and leave themselves susceptible to counter attacks.
Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were harshly ineffective upfront as Dortmund almost never had the chance to break fast – apart from one or two opportunities, which they simply fluffed. Usually matches against Bayern feel a lot differently. They feel right on the edge, as Bayern run attack after attack and BVB has to take the pressure and withstand those attacks. Not this time – it felt more like a home match against HSV – also with the same outcome. BVB were in pseudo-control of the game, where they had a lot of possession in areas that wouldn’t hurt the opposition. It all looks good on first sight, but the final third is mystery land. Rarely Bayern players have guarded their own area so heavily – with intent, has to be said. Dortmund’s attack looked tiny compared to the on-charging Boateng, Dante and Benatia, who were simply too strong for any of BVB’s players to really have a sniff at goal, as passes were intercepted with brute force most of the time. Combined with little, dirty tactical fouls BVB were stopped in all their attacking endeavors.
Robert Lewandowski showed how it’s done at the other end of the pitch, as he maintained the ball against Hummels, turned around the defender and slotted it into Müller’s path, who broke through Dortmund’s “offside trap”. IF Dortmund’s offside trap would work as brilliantly as BVB attackers end up being called offside, it would rain clean sheets… Anyway, Müller was free on goal and Roman Weidenfeller did his best to stop the German from scoring, but sadly the ball landed on Lewandowski’s head, who found an open net. Just like Lasogga, all these parallels…
It’s hard to argue, whether the lead was deserved or not at this point, but given the fact that Dortmund didn’t create a single chance in the entire first half, it’s hard to argue against it. The second half was much better, as Dortmund were getting closer to creating chances – and eventually created a few good opportunities. Unfortunately Marco Reus fluffed Dortmund’s two best chances. His lack of composure in front of goal cost BVB dearly, as it was clear that there wouldn’t be too many scoring opportunities. When he appeared in the box with only Neuer to beat, it was just the right angle, from where he usually scores ninety percent of the time.
After all, every Dortmund fan would hope these kinds of opportunities would fall to Reus, as he is the most likely to score, but against Bayern it sadly went wide. He might have scored from a free kick five minutes before end, but Manuel Neuer’s world class once again made the difference.
Of course, we could bemoan that Bayern players stepped on the feet of Dortmund players twice in the box and that the referee waved it away. But then again, that would be too easy. The repetitive failure to break down deep-lying opposition is what should be bemoaned instead. There is so much creativity within this Dortmund attack, yet it doesn’t find an outlet. Ilkay Gündogan’s drop of form and Nuri Sahin’s absence might be connected to it. A lot of momentum is lost upfront as it takes too long for Dortmund’s midfield to get the ball upfront and when they get upfront they are often too imprecise for the likes of Reus, Aubameyang to be received cleanly.
On a broader scale, that’s simply individual class missing.
At this point it’s time to rate Sven Bender for a sterling performance. After being absent for so long, Bender really put in a shift and not only fulfilled most of his defensive duties, but had some unexpected moments of brilliance going forward. Against Bayern he showed a lot of bravery to attempt dribbles, twists and turns in the very heart of the pitch, where every loss of possession can be hurtful. It was also him, who set up Marco Reus for Dortmund’s best chance of the game.
In the end, BVB cannot take too much away from this game, as we all already know, that they have a heard time against defensive minded teams. It’s rather disappointing that they lost this match against a clever Bayern team, as at least a point was in the realm of possibilities. Judging by Matthias Sammer’s face during the last minutes of the match, it was very close. Sadly though Dortmund didn’t put away their chances and thus were on the losing end. Luckily, not much harm was done, as Bremen, Frankfurt and Hoffenheim couldn’t gain much ground on Dortmund and both sixth place will not be further away than six points.
On Tuesday BVB will play in the DFB Cup against Hoffenheim and hopefully go through to the semi final. Eliminating Hoffenheim will also increase the likeliness, that 7th place will be enough to qualify for the EL and they are only three points away with seven games to go, so the cup match on Tuesday will be of immense importance. Not to forget, that it’s the only trophy left, that Dortmund can win this season.