Bayern Munich turned the much-hyped Der Klassiker match with unbeaten Borussia Dortmund Sunday into simply a Bayern Klassiker, as the Bavarians defeated visiting BvB by a 5-1 margin at the Allianz Arena, and in doing so built their lead in the Bundesliga table to seven points over the runnerup BvB and eight points over their Ruhr Valley counterparts, Schalke, going into the international break.
Pep Guardiola’s side has been perfect this season, but Thomas Tuchel’s BvB have been outstanding too, only recently exhibiting a bump in form with three consecutive draws coming into Sunday. As much as Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski have been in top scoring form for Guardiola, so too has been pacy Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Tuchel’s revitalized Dortmund, and thus the matchup held all the promise of a classic.
The match started out as an evenly-contested event, with Dortmund showing no signs of being intimidated by any comparisons of recent form. Both sides fought for space but could find little as each were aggressive defensively and left little freedom on the ball, making it seem that there were 30 players on the pitch instead of 22.
The streaking Aubameyang looked to draw first blood for Dortmund just a few minutes in, but a tactical foul by David Alaba negated his burst goalwards, with the Austrian somewhat lucky to only receive a yellow card. The match remained congested by strong defensive effort from both sides until the 28th minute, when a long boot forward from Jérôme Boateng was turned into a goal by Müller, as he shielded the ball from the charging BvB keeper Roman Bürki, wheeled to his left and delivered into Dortmund’s empty net. 1-0 Bayern.
It wasn’t long until Müller had a brace. A penalty was called on Henrikh Mkhitaryan when he clipped Thiago in the box after the Brazilian had taken a pass from Philipp Lahm and stopped the ball while his body’s momentum took him forward. Muller took the penalty with confidence, shooting to the left of Bürki and the score was 2-0 35 minutes in.
Dortmund could be said to have poor luck at this point, with Alaba not seeing a red card for his early challenge on Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan’s clumsy effort against Thiago, but they didn’t hang their heads. Instead, they replied moments later as Mkhitaryan, in the center outside of Bayern’s box, passed to Gonzalo Castro on the right. Castro fed a perfect low diagonal ball across the face of goal to Aubameyang, who beat a helpless Neuer to narrow Bayern’s lead to 2-1. The half ended with that scoreline.
Going into the second half, though, one sensed that this was Bayern’s game to lose, given the form of both Müller and Lewandowski and the stalwart defense they’ve exhibited all season. The Bavarians wasted little time putting their stamp on the match, as with the players barely out of the tunnel, Lewandowski scored from a long, high pass from Boateng. The Pole took the defender’s ball looking back over his head as he ran forward, put a sublime touch on it, and eluded a once-again charging Bürki for an easy deposit into Dortmund’s goal. 30 seconds into the second half, it was Bayern 3-1 Dortmund.
And that’s when the Klassiker turned into a Bayern romp. Lewandowski netted once again, twelve minutes later, assisted by his fellow former BvB teammate Mario Götze, while Götze got Bayern’s fifth goal in the 66th minute, with Thiago the provider. Lewandowski had a few chances to earn a hat trick as Dortmund tried for some consolation, but the match ended 5-1 in favor of the Bavarians. Boateng, with his visionary long passes and
Sunday’s match emphasized the thought that many already felt — that Bayern Munich are not only the best club in Germany, but the best in Europe. While Dortmund have shown tangible improvement over last season, and should be able to make a long run in the Europa League, they are not close to being on Bayern’s level of quality. Nobody is.
Bayern are the best. Period. That’s not Bundesliga chauvinism, either. Look at the table in other leagues. Manchester City top the EPL, but have lost two of their eight fixtures thus far. In Serie A, table toppers Inter Milan and Fiorentina have both lost a league match, while Real Madrid have been held to two draws in their first seven La Liga matches while Barca has already lost two league contests. PSG have drawn twice in Ligue 1, leaving Bayern as the only perfect team of the top leagues in Europe.
Look at the squad Guardiola has. The veteran and still-quality captain Lahm, the unparalleled Neuer in goal, the speedy and dangerous Alaba at left back. A midfield abundant in riches, with newcomers Costa and Vidal already having a tremendous impact, skillful Thiago and Alonso still there and healthy and youngsters Joshua Kimmich and Kingsley Coman already proving they can perform at the highest level. Quality up and down the squad, with Javi Martinez, Sebastian Rode, Rafinha, Juan Bernat, Mehdi Benatia, Sven Ulreich and Tom Starke all providing experience and the ability to fit in. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery? When healthy, they aren’t bad either. No other club is so rich in depth and quality, while Guardiola seems to be able to keep all relatively happy and focused.
Right now, Bayern look to be another shoo-in for the Bundesliga crown and a very legitimate contender for another treble. After all, they are the best club in the world.