With Bayern Munich in record-breaking form this season in the league and all the momentum in the world on their side, they are finally ready to break their duck against Borussia Dortmund in their scintillating quarterfinal encounter in the German Cup.
A lot more than progression to the semifinals is at stake for Bayern when these two meet at the Allianz Arena. No team had ever beaten Bayern Munich on five consecutive occasions so when Dortmund pulled off that feat with their demoralizing 5-2 in the Cup final last year, it far reaching implications. First and foremost, it deprived Bayern of another trophy and added to a thoroughly disappointing season. It symbolized a shift in German football with Dortmund being more than just a temporary contender but a true competitor to Bayern’s dominance.
The superfluous Super Cup at the beginning of the season aside, Dortmund extended their unbeaten run against Bayern to six after their 1-1 draw earlier this season. And while it was Bayern’s best performance against Dortmund in a long time, they still weren’t able to turn that into a win. That said, the German champions are in the most ideal position to beat Dortmund. They haven’t lo
|Bayern Munich||Borussia Dortmund|
|Shots On Goal||173||152|
|Shots Off Goal||138||141|
|Bayern Munich||Borussia Dortmund|
What Bayern need to do to finally beat Dortmund
Dortmund chief executive Joachim Watzke said earlier this week that he sees a lot of Dortmund in the way Bayern have played this season and in a way he is right. Bayern’s intense pressing and aggression in games is a big reason they’ve been able to dominate their opponents. Similar, Dortmund’s famous “gegenpressing” and intense tempo is also what’s made them so successful under Jürgen Klopp.
Indeed, Dortmund tackle and duels won rate is quite impressive, not only compared to Bayern but the entire league. There is never a shortage of motivation when Dortmund’s players take the field and their ability to win the ball back quickly is what gives them an edge over most opponents. Their pressing from front to back makes it difficult for opponents to maintain possession and susceptible to turning the ball over in their own half, something Bayern did quite often against them in the last couple of years.
If there was one major discernable difference between Bayern and Dortmund is that the former are strongest with the ball and the latter thrive especially without it. Bayern are the pass-masters of the league and play the ball on the ground better than anyone while Dortmund’s biggest strengths is their collective pressing. If Bayern want to finally get past Dortmund they’ll need to match Dortmund in that category just like they did against Arsenal in the Champions League last week.
There is no shortage of quality players that could end up making the difference in this fixture. Mario Götze has on two occasions already and Roman Weidenfeller single-handedly denied Bayern the three points in December while the plethora of in form Bayern players like Javi Martinez, Thomas Müller or Mario Mandzukic could all decide the game in their favor.
With the game probably being another close affair the key could come down to how each team reacts to the other’s strengths. The Bayern trio of Mandzukic, Kroos and Schweinsteiger keep the ball better than anyone in the league and will need to do so expertly to minimize Dortmund’s opportunities to attack and run at their defenders. As good as Bayern’s defense has been, not even they are immune to Dortmund’s dangerous attacks. When players like Reus, Götze and Lewandowski run at you, goals are almost inevitable. Dortmund have not found the back of the net in only one of their 36 matches this season.
Dortmund on the other hand will have to shore up their defense. They’ve been too fragile too often this season. Bayern have kept over twice as many clean sheets as Dortmund and the record champions have allowed 83 shots compared to Bayern’s 54. All the while, their high back line has been more error prone than in the past and with Bayern’s otherworldly efficiency this season the slightest lapse in concentration could cost them.
Bayern will be without the influential Franck Ribery in this game due to suspension. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recently called Ribery Bayern and the Bundesliga’s best player so his absence could play a big part in this match. It does give Arjen Robben another chance to start though and his performance at the weekend against Werder Bremen was certainly very promising. Still missing will also be Rafinha (illness) and Holger Badstuber (injury).
Dortmund will be able to welcome back reported Bayern transfer target Robert Lewandowski who has been suspended in the league but is eligible for the Cup. Mats Hummels, Lukasz Piszczek and Jakub Blaszczykowski will all be fit to play. They’ll all need to be at 100% if they want to beat Bayern according to Klopp, nothing less will do.
A win against Dortmund will do much to add further to Bayern’s momentum and the fact that they’ve always gone on to win the Cup when they’ve beaten them in the Cup will only give them more incentive to do so. With the league all but secured eliminating Dortmund will also have the symbolic effect of restoring Bayern as German football’s preeminent power.
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