Dortmund visited Bayern for the 100th Der Klassiker in the league and the biggest in years. Ryan Hunn reports on Bayern’s dominant evening at the Allianz Arena.
Exiting the station at Munich’s Fröttmaning U-bahn station is where the Allianz Arena first comes into view. Perched atop a hill, a white bowl basking in the early April sun, surrounded by slow moving waves of red and yellow, it’s at that point where the importance of this edition of Der Klassiker came into sharp focus. It was now real : the biggest Klassiker since the 2013 Champions’ League final, between the Bundesliga’s top two, who were separated by just two points.
As a spectacle, it was over after just 17 minutes, where Bayern’s dominance resulted in an early two-goal lead. A Thiago corner was headed home by Mats Hummels and it was a lead Die Roten deserved. It was doubled just seven minutes later, and there was already a feeling that this might go horribly wrong for Dortmund. Robert Lewandowski pounced on a Dan-Axel Zagadou error, flicked it over Roman Bürki and volleyed into an empty net.
It did go horribly wrong. Two became three and three became four, in quick succession, just before half time. Javi Martinez slotted home after BVB failed to clear following a smart Bürki save from Thomas Müller. The Dortmund keeper stood there exasperated, arms out, in disbelief. Serge Gnabry headed in another, after Manuel Akanji failed to notice him drop off his shoulder to make it 4-0 by half time. It could have been six, it could have been seven, with Bürki by far the visitors’ best player. His frustration as Bayern celebrated their third mirrored that of the travelling fans, who were far more impressive than the side they had come to support.
From a Dortmund perspective, it was infuriating: they were sloppy with the ball, second to every duel and extremely poor, yet had a golden opportunity to take the lead - albeit against the run of play - after six minutes. In the first cohesive move the visitors put together, Jacob Bruun Larsen and Marco Reus exchanged passes down the Dortmund left. Reus cut the ball back to Mahmoud Dahoud, starting due to the absence of Paco Alcacer through injury, whose shot hit the post when he really should have scored. Due to Alcacer’s absence, Reus started as the central point of a 4-3-3 and the away side never looked cohesive or comfortable.
The second half was mostly non-eventful, apart from a late Lewandowski goal to make it 5-0 and the occasional flare up of frustration from the visitors. Thomas Delaney was booked for pulling back Lewandowski and Reus’ annoyance at his role - and his side’s performance - was clear. A kick of the post after conceding a corner came shortly before a kick out at Lewandowski, where he was lucky not to see yellow. He carried this feeling post-game, “Everyone knows I don’t want to play there,” he said, when asked about his role as a number nine.
What to do in Alcacer’s absence is something Lucien Favre must figure out quickly, having experimented with Reus, Götze and Bruun Larsen as the furthest point in attack. However, in the aftermath of Der Klassiker, he may have more pressing matters on his mind. “It was a lesson,” he said post match, “Bayern dominated the tempo, the movement.” Delaney echoed his manager: “We got schooled.”
A defeat away to Bayern in the league is nothing to cause too much concern – Dortmund are only one point behind with six games to go – but the manner of the defeat and the effect it will have on a vastly inexperienced side will undoubtedly be Favre’s main worry. First, their nine-point lead was chased down by Bayern, then their goal difference overhauled. Bayern have scored 23 goals in their last five league games to increase their goal difference advantage over Dortmund to 15. This didn’t feel like two sides competing for the title, it felt like an elder sibling putting the younger in its place.
While the Bayern juggernaut may be increasing in momentum, this title race is by no means done. The 27-time champions travel to Düsseldorf to face in-form Fortuna next week and must also go to Leipzig before the end of the season. Having drawn away at Freiburg last week, maximum points in their remaining fixtures is far from a formality. Dortmund, on the other hand, face tricky away games at Borussia Mönchengladbach and Werder Bremen, coupled with some very winnable fixtures at home. “We must only think of the next game and not about the title,” said Favre.
The utter brilliant, but endearingly naïve Dortmund that Rabona’s Michael Da Silva wrote about after the reverse fixture has not been seen for a while. It’s a side that seems to care more what people think as the stakes have got higher. However, if they are going to win the league this season, they need to start misbehaving again, ignoring their elders and breaking their curfews. Getting grounded for the summer won’t be as hard if you have a winners’ medal for company.