Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund locked horns once again as the two German giants battled it out for a place in the DFB Pokal final. Unlike the league meeting two weeks ago, Thomas Tuchel’s Borussia Dortmund were the victors this time round, reaching the DFB Pokal final for the fourth season running.
Marco Reus had the easy task of putting the ball into an empty net before Javi Martinez equalised for Bayern. Former Dortmund captain Mats Hummels then put Carlo Ancelotti’s side in the lead before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his 38th goal in all competitions this season to draw his team level.
It was summer signing Ousmane Dembélé who sent Dortmund to Berlin with a fine goal from inside the penalty area. Dortmund’s win now means there won’t be a double for Bayern.
#1 Javi Martinez coped well after a jittery start
It was a shaky start for Bayern Munich and Javi Martinez. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should have given Thomas Tuchel’s side the lead, only to miss a sitter, as nerves in the opening stages played a big part in Dortmund taking the lead.
Martinez was at fault for Marco Reus’ opening goal. Often an extremely composed defender, Martinez played a blind pass to Sven Ulreich, which was cut out by Raphaël Guerreiro who subsequently hit the post. Reus was able to pick up the rebound and give his side the lead.
It didn’t, however, take long for Martinez to make amends. His header just nine minutes later gave Bayern a well-deserved equaliser, whilst the 28-year-old almost added to Bayern’s lead. A shaky start for the World Cup winner, Martinez more than made up for it in the rest of the game, despite Bayern losing out to their rivals.
#2 Raphaël Guerreiro’s resurgence in midfield
When the Portugal international arrived from Ligue 1 side Lorient, many experts had predicted the 22-year-old to play left-back and deputise for Marcel Schmelzer when needed. Tuchel, however, has deployed Guerreiro in a midfield role, from where he’s able to dictate play and make runs from deep. The move has turned out to be a masterstroke.
His run from midfield is what gave Dortmund the lead, as he played an important part in Reus’ tap-in. We’ve seen many times this season that Guerreiro controls the game alongside both Gonzalo Castro and Julian Weigl, and the Portuguese is growing in confidence with every game that passes.
Not only is the 22-year-old good at going forward, Guerreiro is also handy in a defensive role with his ability to intercept the ball and start the attacks.
#3 Who failed for Bayern?
It’s not often that you would be able to pick faults in a Bayern Munich team, but this one under Carlo Ancelotti certainly has plenty. Despite Manuel Neuer missing through injury, Sven Ulreich is more than a good enough back-up, but the players in front of him perhaps aren’t.
Ancelotti still opts to start Xabi Alonso in midfield, despite having Joshua Kimmich and co. on the bench and it would perhaps be better to start both Thiago and Arturo Vidal, allowing Thomas Müller to play behind the striker. Although predictable, Arjen Robben is still unstoppable at his best, but he’s not getting any younger and neither is Franck Ribery – which was clear against Dortmund.
When Robert Lewandowski isn’t hitting the back of the net, Bayern don’t look like scoring. Whether it’s Ancelotti’s tactics or the decline after playing high-intensity football under Pep Guardiola, Ancelotti most certainly hasn’t got this team playing how he would like them to.
Bayern are going to need to recruit strongly in the summer, especially with Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm both retiring.
#4 Ousmane Dembélé oozes class
Not for the first time this season, Dembélé has shown glimpses of just what he can produce when at his best. His understanding with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is already on another level. The 19-year-old has assisted Aubameyang 10 times already in his debut season.
Dembélé has netted nine goals and recorded 20 assists in all competitions; a record anyone in their debut season could be proud of.
Not only did he assist Aubameyang for the equaliser, but he also scored what proved to be the winner for Borussia Dortmund, which will see them face Eintracht Frankfurt in the DFB Pokal final.
Dembélé has such close control and excellent movement that he often finds himself available in the penalty area. Although he’s still raw, the France international showed just how devastating he can be in the coming years.
#5 Thiago Alcántara has stepped up
Unfortunately, under Pep Guardiola, Thiago was out injured for a fair amount of games, but now the 26-year-old is proving his worth to Bayern Munich with his exceptional and consistent performances this season.
Many imagined the Spain international to perhaps not be as good defensively as he is going forward, but Ancelotti has certainly fine-tuned his talent. At one point this season, Thiago had recorded the most interceptions by any footballer, and his pass success rate (90.8%) remains one of the best in Europe.
At the moment, there are not many midfielders who can be put in the same bracket at Thiago.