Bundesliga 2018-19: 3 Things we learned from Der Klassiker
The 99th Bundesliga edition of the Der Klassiker ended with Dortmund winning by the odd goal in five. The game had an ebb and flow to it throughout and was arguably the game of the season across Europe.
Bayern dominated the early exchanges and deservedly led through their prolific marksman, Robert Lewandowski. Meanwhile, Dortmund were guilty of spurning a gilt-edged chance when Marco Reus fired straight at Manuel Neuer.
After the break, Dortmund looked a team possessed and threw caution to the wind, earning a penalty and converting it to put Bayern on the back foot. Minutes later, Lewandowski handed the initiative back to Bayern with his second headed finish of the night.
However, Bayern’s joy was short-lived as Reus produced a sumptuous finish to draw parity in the 67th minute. Within six minutes, Dortmund surged into the lead courtesy a perfectly timed run and finish by their super-sub, Paco Alcacer. Racing on to a through ball by Axel Witsel, the Spaniard maintained his composure to dink the ball over Neuer.
With the victory, Dortmund have now opened up a four-point lead at the top, while Bayern sit a further three points behind in 3rd spot. The Der Klassiker at the Signal Iduna Park lived up to its billing and was an enthralling watch for fans around the world.
However, there were also a few things that came to light during the see-saw battle in the industrial town of Dortmund. Through this article, we would look at three things we learned from Dortmund’s sensational victory over Bayern Munich.
#3. Bayern look threadbare in midfield and wide areas
After a strong start to the season, Bayern have fallen away in recent months. Niko Kovac now faces an uphill battle to save his job and salvage the Bavarian side’s season.
Bayern have had rotten luck in terms of injury this season. The likes of Coman, Tolisso and Thiago face an extended spell on the sideline. The injury-prone nature of Robben isn’t aiding their case either. Although they haven’t had the rub of the green, a team like Bayern should be well-equipped to handle such perilous situations.
For quite a while, Muller, Robben and Ribery haven’t been firing, yet the Bayern hierarchy have mysteriously not injected some young blood into their team.
The triumvirate of Robben, Ribery and Muller would have walked into any team in their prime. However, the trio look way past their best these days, thus making Bayern’s decision even more bewildering.
As for their midfield, the pairing of Goretzka and Martinez lacked imagination. When Bayern were chasing the game, the duo failed to provide any thrust from the centre of the park, thus forcing Bayern out wide, where Dortmund had enough cover. Their midfield seems to be sorely missing the passing range of Thiago. Though the likes of Sanches and Goretzka are wonderful box to box midfielders, they hardly possess the exquisite passing abilities of Thiago.
A rocky road lies ahead for the Bavarian outfit and they would hope that Thiago and Tolisso return to the fold as quickly as possible to provide some cover to a threadbare midfield.
Bayern are in a crisis, there’s absolutely no doubt about it. However, for their sake, they know where the problems lie. It is now up to them to address those problems and reclaim their place at the perch of the Bundesliga tree.