Bayern Munich came out 1-0 winners against arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund, stretching their lead to 10 points at the table summit. The match between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund is always a tight affair irrespective of their form. But Saturdaya s affair saw very little goalmouth action as both teams registered only 4 shots on goal in the entire match. Bayern sat deep to mitigate the counter-pressing game employed by the hosts and looked to hit them on break. Bayern entered the match with injuries to Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and David Alaba which forced Pep Guardiola to field a starting XI consisting of six natural defenders and two defensive midfielders. Former Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski formed a strike pair with Thomas Muller upfront who patiently waited to launch counter attacks with Dortmund opting to press higher up the pitch. Jurgen Klopp handed Kevin Kampl starting berth with Sokratis Papastathopoulos in the right back position and Sven Bender pairing up with Ilkay Gundogan in the defensive midfield. Dortmund had the better of exchanges in the starting ten minutes, but couldna t test Manuel Neuer in any way. The visitors looked more incisive in attack even though they were without the darting runs of Arjen Robben. Lewandowski and Muller tested Dortmunda s high-line defence with their intelligent runs and link-up play. In the 36th minute, Lewandowski went around his marker and fed Muller who managed to fire a low shot. Lewandowski was quick to react by leaping higher than Neven Subotic to head the rebound into an empty net. The Polish international didna t look keen on celebrating the goal out of respect for his former club. Dortmund tried to pull one back but Bayerna s back line didna t leave any spaces thus ending the first half with a one goal lead. Jurgen Kloppa s men started the second half in search of an equalizer but lacked the necessary penetration in the final third. Xabi Alonso looked to have tipped Aubameyang inside the box, but the referee showed little interest in giving a penalty. Marco Reus then curled a superb free kick from just outside the box, but Neuer produced an equally remarkable save to stop it from crossing the line. Mats Hummels also had a chance at the goal, but dragged his shot wide. Thiago Alcantara entered the action after being sidelined for almost an year to a grand applause from the red section of away fans. Dortmund pushed for an equalizer but Bayerna s tight defence kept things at bay as Pep Guardiola earned his 4th win against Jurgen Klopp. Lets looks at the talking points of the game.
Bayern cana t risk anymore injuries:
Bayern are suddenly short of attacking options with injuries to Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and David Alaba. The Austrian might be a defender by trade, but he offers a great threat going forward with his pace and crossing abilities. The doctors have confirmed that the 22-year old is set to be sidelined for atleast seven weeks or more which means he could even miss the rest of the season. Franck Ribery has been injury prone in the past year, during which he missed the World Cup in Brazil and also announced his retirement from international duty. The winger looked to be short of confidence as his performances have dipped considerably since losing out to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the 2013 Ballon Da or. And after expressing his frustration on being injured, getting injured for the second time in three months will further lower his confidence which will be worrying factor for Guardiola. Arjen Robbena s injuries are well documented given the nature of his game. With his electric pace and high intensity runs, he has always been prone to injuries. But this time, the Dutchmen seems to be sidelined for the rest of the season because of the recent stomach injury which is big blow for Bayern with several important matches in the next few weeks. The Bavarians are set to play six matches in upcoming three weeks which will be a test for the playersa fitness. And further injuries to any other player can put their chances of winning the treble in jeopardy. Guardiola was aware of this situation and quickly replaced Bastian Schweinsteiger with Sebastian Rode early in the second half after the German captain received a knock in the first half. The Catalan was also wise to sub Philipp Lahm in the 69th minute after starting him for the first time since recovering from an ankle injury. There will be some frustration among regulars in the team regarding the playing minutes in the coming weeks, but to keep their treble hopes alive, rotation will be necessary.
Pep Seems To Have Found a Way Without Robben and Ribery:
Pep Guardiola have been heavily criticized for his possession based tactics and attack minded game at the cost of defensive stability in his first season with Bayern. But this season, the ex-Barcelona boss has played multiple formations which has been key for Bayerna s dominance on three fronts. His tactics might have backfired occasionally like the league defeats against Monchengladbach and Wolfsburg, but he has stabilized the Bayern defence with the use of three man defence which conceded just 13 goals in the 27 games they played in the Bundesliga. On Saturday against Dortmund, Pep sacrificed the possession tactics and let Dortmund have the ball. It worked wonderfully against Dortmunda s high-line defence which allowed Bayern to break away quickly. They soaked up the early pressure from Dortmunda s front line, but once they found their rhythm, the Bavarians were clinical in the attack. Even though they were without Robben and Ribery who are the chief attacking outlets on the flanks, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller made it up with intelligent link-up play which compensated for the duoa s darting runs and mazy dribbles on the wings. Bayerna s back line consisting of three centre backs played superbly robbing Dortmunda s attack of any little space. Mehdi Benatia in particular was able to put Marco Reus in check forcing the German into errors. Boateng and Dante were solid aerially clearing away every ball that was launched into the box. This assured performance from his defenders will convince Guardiola that his team can play more than one type of football even without their key players.
Dortmunda s Attack Needs Some Serious Rebuilding:
Dortmunda s miserable season can be accounted for their profligacy infront of the goal. Marco Reus has been the only shining light for the Yellow and Blacks since signing his contract extension in February, and is the reason for the cluba s reversed fortunes in the seasona s second half. But putting all the weight on the attacker have seen them beaten soundly by Juventus in the Champions League. It was a similar scene on Saturday, as Bayern targeted Reus with a series of intelligent fouls. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre- Emerick Aubameyang have been poor on the ball since the start of the season and offered little against a disciplined Bayern defence. The Armenian playmaker in particular has been disappointing, with only 2 goals in all competitions and had no impact against Bayern after coming off the bench in second half . New arrivals Kevin Kampl, Adrian Ramos and Ciro Immobile have failed miserably in the Dortmund shirt. Kampl and Ramos looked out of place every time they had the ball which only increased the burden on Reus. Shinji Kagawa, also didna t have any noteworthy performances since his return to Dortmund from Manchester United and Saturdaya s game was no different. Polish midfielder Blaczyszykowski has been struggling to find his form since returning from a lengthy injury layoff. Reus will keep on performing with all his abilities and dedication to the team, but his team mates should also take responsibilities, if the club wants to stay afloat in the top flight. It would be wise for Jurgen Klopp to offload some of his wasteful forwards next season and bring in some new alternatives.