October 24, 2017

Brilliant Bayern recover to deliver knock-out blow to brave Dortmund

Week ten of the Bundesliga season would see FC Bayern entertain Borussia Dortmund in the latest instalment of Der Klassiker – but one that would have a slightly different pre-match flavour from what we had become used to in recent seasons. Usually a top of the table clash, this season’s encounter at the Allianz Arena would pit the high-flying Bavarians against a Dortmund side struggling for form near the foot of the table.

There would be an extra layer of excitement for Bayern fans – it wouldn’t be just the matter of extending their unbeaten run and consigning their opponents to a seventh defeat in ten Bundesliga matches, but also the thrill of pushing Jürgen Klopp’s side closer to the relegation places. Dortmund for their part would come into the game with nothing to lose, which would set things up nicely for a pulsating clash.

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola would make his usual tweaks to the starting eleven that had beaten Hamburg in midweek Pokal competition: the three-man back line would see the return of Medhi Benatia for Danté and David Alaba switch back into the left wing-back role with Juan Bernat moving into the midfield, while fit-again talisman Arjen Robben and Mario Götze would come in for Rafinha and Franck Ribéry. Dortmund coach Klopp would also make three changes, with Łukasz Piszczek, Sven Bender and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang coming in for Neven Subotić, Kevin Grosskreutz and Ciro Immobile.

A capacity crowd would see the home side start in typical fashion, immediately dominating possession. With just six minutes gone Robben would create the first chance, making a characteristic jink inside from the right only to see his well-struck shot well tipped over the bar by Dortmund ‘keeper Roman Weidenfeller.

The game would quickly settle down into an entertaining game of cat and mouse, with Bayern patiently building in the midfield and Dortmund chasing down every ball and contesting every duel with the aim of striking on the break. Henrikh Mkhitaryan would shoot wide for the visitors, while a lovely looping ball from Jérôme Boateng into the opposition penalty area would be just a little too far in front of the advancing Thomas Müller.

In recent clashes Weidenfeller had managed to block the ball with his face – providing more than a few comedy moments – but this time would return the favour to team-mate Mkhitaryan. Looking to clear quickly after collecting another Müller effort, the Dortmund ‘keeper’s drop-kick would only find the back of the Armenian’s head.

Bayern would continue to press with Weidenfeller pushing another Robben shot aside and Benatia heading wide from the resulting corner, while at the other end the busy Aubameyang would force Manuel Neuer into his first save of the game.

With half an hour gone the Munich side would quickly move the ball up to the other side of the field, but this time would be caught cold as their opponents presented a textbook response. Japanese international Shinji Kagawa’s pass would find the fast-moving Aubameyang down the right, and the Gabonese international would cross perfectly for Marco Reus to head home. Having sprinted ahead of Benatia, the sprightly Reus – linked by the press with a move to Munich – would get in between the Moroccan and Boateng to beat the helpless Neuer.

With the home crowd slightly stunned Bayern would immediately up the ante as Weidenfeller clawed away a Müller cross and Bernat shot wide of the target, and just moments later Müller would be denied by the Dortmund ‘keeper, who was quickly off his line to crowd out and foil Der Raumdeuter.

Stung by the scoreline the home side would continue to press, and five minutes from half-time Robben would have a wonderful opportunity to level the scores. The Dutchman would pick up the ball in the Dortmund box before cutting back inside – onto his wrong foot – and by the time he managed to get a shot away with his favoured left boot Sven Bender would hack the ball away. As the half-time whistle blew with the scoreline reading 1-0 to the visitors, some of those in red must have wondered if it was just going to be “one of those days”.

Not unexpectedly, Dortmund had belied their position at the wrong end of table with an inspired forty-five minutes – but the second half would see Bayern continue to put their squeeze on their opponents. Die Roten’s first break would come right at the start of the half, with Dortmund captain Mats Hummels having to make way for the unpredictable Serbian international Neven Subotić.

Right from the whistle Guardiola’s side would look to dominate, with the Spanish coach looking increasingly animated on the touchline as both Xabi Alonso and Robben again warmed Weidenfeller’s gloves. Dortmund would look far more timid that they had been in the first half, which would simply allow for a series of red waves surge forward. On fifty-two minutes Robert Lewandowski would have an excellent chance to score against his former team, but Weidenfeller would again position himself well to block the Polish striker’s effort. In recent weeks the Dortmund ‘keeper had been guilty of a number of howlers, but somehow against Bayern he had managed to find his form – frustratingly so for the increasingly frustrated home supporters.

The chances would continue to come and go for Bayern with Müller having another shot blocked and Benatia heading wide, and in what would be a rare counterattack for the visitors Kagawa would send a low snapshot wide of Neuer’s left upright. Benatia would have an even better chance to level the scores five minutes past the hour, rising clear to meet the ball only to head it woefully wide. In the stands – and in a noisy Bavarian Beerhouse where a number of Red Dragons had gathered – the frustration would continue to build to an almost insane level.

After another Robben shot had been snaffled up by the seemingly unbeatable Weidenfeller, the big change would come. With twenty minutes left on the clock, the somewhat disappointing Mario Götze would make way for Ribéry – who would make his way onto the pitch with the entire stadium chanting his name.

As if by magic, it wouldn’t take long. Getting stuck in straightaway, Ribéry would make his way in from the left looking for Robben. The Frenchman’s pass would be half-intercepted by Subotić, inadvertently setting up Lewandowski. With Weidenfeller completely wrong-footed, the Pole would bring Bayern level with a graceful sweep of his left foot. The celebration against his former side would be muted, but clear.

With Klopp’s side now left reeling on the ropes from Lewandowski’s uppercut Die Roten would continue to press for the crucial blow as the game ticked into the final quarter of an hour. Claudio Pizarro would replace the slightly flat Müller and the Peruvian would force yet another save from Weidenfeller as Dortmund held on for dear life, but just moments later Subotić would hold onto the advancing Ribéry just a little too much, sending the Frenchman tumbling in the penalty area.

Referee Manuel Gräfe had annoyed some of the Bayern following with a series of iffy decisions, but this time he would call it right and point to the spot. With regular penalty-taker Müller off the pitch Robben would confidently step up to send the ball low into the bottom left-hand corner.

The final act would see Weidenfeller make his way into the Bayern penalty area as his side won a corner deep into injury time, but clean collection by Neuer and the final whistle would bring the curtain down on another memorable encounter between these two teams. Bayern would maintain their lead at the top of the table ahead of VfL Wolfsburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach, while Jürgen Klopp’s Hallowe’en nightmare would continue as his team continued their downward slide. Following SC Freiburg’s first win of the season the following day, Dortmund would join Werder Bremen in the bottom two.

Sparked by a fantastic second half performance crowned by the return of “Robbéry”, Bayern can now set their sights on midweek and the visit of AS Roma – and with it securing a place in the knockout stages of the Champions’ League. Curiously, despite their dismal domestic form Dortmund will be looking to do the same when they take on Turkish outfit Galatasary at the Signal-Iduna-Park.

Bundesliga Week 10
Allianz Arena, München, 01.11.2014

FC Bayern 2:1 (0:1) BV Borussia Dortmund
Lewandowski 72., Robben pen 85. / Reus 31.

FC Bayern: Neuer – Benatia, Boateng, Alaba – Alonso – Robben, Lahm (c), Götze (70. Ribéry), Bernat – Müller (81. Pizarro), Lewandowski (88. Rode)

Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Sokratis, Hummels (c) (46. Subotić), Durm – Kehl – Bender, Mkhitaryan – Aubameyang (81. Ramos), Kagawa (71. Großkreutz), Reus

Yellow Cards: Alonso / Piszczek, Subotić

Originally published on the website of the Red Dragons London, the United Kingdom’s premier FC Bayern München fan club

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London-based but with his heart firmly in Fröttmaning, Rick Joshua's love of German football goes back more than thirty years and has witnessed everything from the pain of Spain '82 and the glory of Italia '90 to the sheer desolation of Euro 2000. This has all been encapsulated in the encyclopaedic Schwarz und Weiß website and blog, which at some three hundred or so pages is still not complete. Should you wish to disturb him, you can get in touch with Rick on Twitter @fussballchef. This carries a double meaning, as he can prepare a mean Obazda too.

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