Match Review: Der Klasiker: Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund
With all the hoopla surrounding the Premier league and the BBVA, the German Bundesliga often fails to attract crowds. However, a match between what are not only the Bundesliga’s crown jewels, but also a major force in Europe just couldn’t keep the football fans away with Bayern’s fortress, the Allianz Arena, being packed to its massive 71,000+ capacity by football enthusiasts, who were braving the sub- zero Bavarian temperatures to witness their team either closing in on their most hated rivals or extending the lead to a point where it was unassailable. Fate, however, had panned it out rather differently, as both the German giants arrived at a stale mate and shared one point apiece amongst themselves.
If tempers ran high during this match, it wouldn’t be uncalled for, there was plenty of history associated with the match and plenty of reasons to hold grudges against. After all, Bayern, who have been been Germany’s most successful club historically, were up against an extremely young Borussia Dortmund, who have won consecutive Bundesliga titles now. Borussia were having (and are still having) a bit of an unbeaten streak against the Bavarians, not having been on the losing end an incredible 5 times prior to last night’s clash. And to make matters worse, some Dortmund fans had recently broken into the Allianz Arena’s lighting room and changed it’s colors to their own team’s, yellow. The winter chill, however, must’ve helped the players ‘chill out’ (literally), for not a single yellow card was displayed in the match, a near impossibility in a match labeled as Der Klassiker (English : The classic), the German equivalent of the Spanish El Classico.
Team News :-
Both Bayern and Borussia had some major blows to their team, but both had benches strong enough to replace just about any player. Bayern were lacking the services of talismanic winger Arjen Robben and their young defensive minded midfielder, Luiz Gustavo, while Dortmund seemed to hit harder in this department, with Captain Sebastian Kehl and midfield duo Owomoyela and Lowe out of commission. The rivals lined up in the following manner:-
Bayern Munich – (formation: 4-2-3-1)
Starting XI- Neuer; Lahm(c), Dante, Badstuber (Boateng 37), Alaba; Martinez, Schweinsteiger; Muller, Kroos, Ribery; Mandzukic (Gomez 87).
Unused Substitutes - Stark, Rafinha, Tymoshchuk, Shaqiri, Pizzaro,
Borussia Dortmund – (formation – 4-2-3-1)
Starting XI - Weidenfeller(c); Piszczek, Subotic (Santana 81), Hummels, Schmelzer; Bender, Gündogan; Blaszczykowski (Perisic 74), Götze (Schieber 90), Reus; Lewandowski.
Unused Substitutes - Langerak, Kirch, Großkreutz, Leitner
The match started off as a battle of tactics rather than skill, as Heynckes’ and Klopp’s men looked rather subdued. Borussia got the opportunity to make an immediate mark on the game around the three minute mark, when a mis-hit from Neuer caused an immediate break and subsequently a miss from Lewandowski. Bayern put their own foot on the accelerator as Ribery and Muller started giving the well organized Borussia defence a run for their money.
One of the major setbacks Bayern suffered over the course of the first half was losing their giant at the back, Holger Badstuber, who twisted his knee following a tackle on Gotze. Badstuber was stretchered off, while Jerome Boateng took his place.
Muller had the chance to open the account for Bayern before Martin Schemlzer tackled in a very risky manner to deny Muller from getting a shot on target.
Borussia Dortmund were denied from scoring twice, as Neuer rested his rights to be called ‘Germany’s best’, after denying Hummels following a quickly taken free-kick and preventing Gotze from drawing blood just before the half time, who looked to score as he hit the ball with venomous intent in a rather rare Dortmund break.
After a rather uneventful and tactically exhaustive first half, both teams resorted to playing on pure adrenaline, with Dortmund seemingly having the upper hand. Reus had a quick break towards the Bayern goal before Neuer went out and pounced on the ball, while both Schmelzer and Gotze hit wide off the mark. Bayern held their own too, as Mandzukic tested Weidenfeller from 20 yards out, and after Muller had a legitimate claim to a penalty following a rather rash tackle by Schemlzer. Their best opportunity score during these exchanges, however, was fluffed by Ribery, as he mistimed his scissor kick from a David Alaba cross.
Roughly 3/4th of the match was over when Muller threaded a pass through in an amazing manner to Toni Kroos, who side stepped a challenge from his ex Bayern youth teammate, Hummels, before striking a nasty shot into the low corner with his left foot well beyond Weidenfeller, or indeed, anyone’s reach.
Dortmund however, seemed determined not to go down and returned the favor in under 7 minutes in the form of Gotze, who took a similar left footed shot from the edge of the penalty box following a Marco Reus corner to draw both teams level once again.
Following the second goal of the game, Bayern looked to go in front, with a few amazing shots from Ribery, Muller, Kroos and Martinez, but were all denied by Dortmund’s goalkeeper, who made a few stunning saves to end the game in a stalemate.
Bayern remain 11 points adrift of Dortmund, thus making it nearly impossible for them to catch up. Leverkusen are ranked second for now, and have eight points to make up if they wish to beat Bayern Munich to the race for the League trophy, while Dortmund will really need to pull their socks up and hope for a few fixtures to go their way to stand any chance of winning a trophy that looks to be Bayern’s for now.