A well played German SuperCup saw FC Bayern München hand Borussia Dortmund its second consecutive defeat in the revived SuperCup competition, winning 2-1 at the Allianz Arena before almost 70,000 fans. Last season Borussia Dortmund lost the SuperCup to Pokal champions Schalke on penalties after scoreless regulation play. The victory by the Bavarians broke a five game losing streak against their black-yellow rivals, which include four regular season losses the last two years and a loss in last May’s DFB Pokal final.
Although Bayern München were clad in black shirts and shorts, they have not been the Bundesliga bad boy bullies the last two seasons, as Jurgen Klopp’s young club has won the last two Bundesliga titles, with Bayern finishing a disheartening third during a 2010/2011 season racked with controversy and second last year. But Jupp Heynckes’s Bavarians obviously had something to prove in this match – that they are still the dominant force in German football. They didn’t take long in making their point, at least for one day.
Newcomer Mario Mandžukić demonstrated his value very early on, when he drove forward in the open space between Mats Hummels and Marcel Schmelzer to drive in a fine diagonal cross from Franck Ribery in the 6th minute. Mandžukić, acquired from VfL Wolfsburg, was subbing for the injured Mario Gomez, and almost scored again moments later. Just past the 10th minute, though, Bayern did get their second goal. Arjen Robben drilled a shot from the left side that caromed off the far post, straight to an unmarked Thomas Müller, who tapped the ball in for a very early 2-0 Bayern lead. Although Dortmund’s defense stiffened as the half went on, Klopp’s kids were unable to build any consistent threat on goal and the half ended with Bayern the better team and a deserved 2-0 lead.
Borussia Dortmund looked to get its excellent attack into gear as the second half opened up. Barely a minute into the half, a potentially dangerous ‘give and go’ between Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski was nullified after the ‘give’ as Lewnadowski was a step offside. The pair caused more trouble minutes later, when a fine Reus corner kick into the box was headed towards goal by Lewandowski, only to be punched away by the ever-aware, well-positioned Manuel Neuer. In the 52nd minute, Dortmund right back Lukas Piszczek provided a perfect cross to Reus, who’s right-footed shot went just wide of the far post. It wasn’t long before another opportunity was missed by Dortmund as Mats Hummels headed just wide of the near post from a Reus free kick.
Not that Bayern didn’t contribute to the second half drama, though. Arjen Robben attacked goal after receiving a backheel pass forward from Franck Ribery, but was rode out and couldn’t get off a shot. Robben did, however, take a dangerous looking low shot shortly after the hour mark, but Weidenfeller was up to the challenge.
Dortmund looked sure to score in the 66th minute, when Kuba brought the ball in from the right corner. Mario Götze, who had just entered the match, had a touch, as did Reus, before the ball went to Lewandowski, whose soft shot from close range went wide of the near post. But Lewandowski finally had his goal in the 75th minute, as a short pass forward from substitute Julian Schieber arrived. The Polish international, with Reus beside him and two Bayern defenders in front of him, found the necessary space to direct a well-aimed shot at the bottom right corner of the Bayern net that a diving Neuer couldn’t stop, and the score was halved. 2-1, with fifteen minutes remaining in regulation.
The game would end 2-1, as chances by Schieber on a shot just wide and from Robben on a run into the box weren’t converted, with Bayern München earning a hard- fought and well-deserved win over the team vying for the supremacy that was once theirs alone.
Though in a sense the German SuperCup is a glorified preseason friendly, winning the match was obviously important to both sides, especially the Bavarians carrying a chip on their shoulder. Their intensity wasn’t quite matched by BvB until the second half, although there were plenty of sliding tackles, collisions and heads knocked to demonstrate that this was no walk in the park friendly.
Bayern were without several key players in Sunday’s match, including not only the prolific Gomez but Bastian Schweinsteiger and potential starting young left back David Alaba, but Mandžukić, Luiz Gustavo and 18 year-old German youth international Emre Can were admirable replacements. Heynckes paired Jerome Boateng with newcomer Dante at center back, and for the most part they were an impenetrable force. Dante’s size, speed and footballing intelligence deepens a once-suspect Bayern backline, and with Mandžukić and the Bundesliga’s all-time leading foreign scorer, Claudio Pizarro in the fold upfront this is a better squad than those of the last few seasons. Holders Dortmund will have their hands full with this crew built not only for Bundesliga competition but for the Champions League. Bayern supporters have to be excited not only with the ability demonstrated in Sunday’s win, but the no-nonsense mentality demonstrated by the Bayern squad who were intent on victory. The combination of depth and determination bodes well for Bayern’s season in all competitions.
For Jurgen Klopp, a somewhat slow start on the backline and a lack of synchronicity among the attackers in the early portions of the match have to be a concern, but the bigger picture has to have the enthusiastic coach smiling. One can see the beginnings of the relationship that newcomer Reus will forge with his teammates, and when their familiarity grows, watch out. Reus had a good, if not great outing, but his precision on set-pieces will add a dimension that BvB sometimes lacked following the departure of Nuri Sahin. Klopp also has to have a warm glow inside when he can bring in such quality players as Perisic, Götze and Schieber as substitutes, and overall BvB’s defending was good after the first ten minutes of the match, even with the absence of veteran Sebastian Kehl.
Both squads look loaded, but not bloated, with talent — squads that on paper have the depth to compete with any team in Europe without having such an extensive squad that internal dissension arises over playing time. Sunday’s SuperCup might be considered a foreshadowing of what should be an amazing 50th anniversary Bundesliga season, and hopefully, deep Champions League runs for the Bundesliga’s elite clubs.
FCB Lineup: Neuer – Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Can (Bastuber 70′) – Kroos, Gustavo – Robben (Shaqiri 86′), Müller, Ribery (Tymoshchuk 81′) – Mandzukic
BvB Lineup: Weidenfeller – Pizcek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer – Leitner (Götze 64′), Gündogan – Blaszczykowski (Schieber 71′), Reus, Großkreutz (Perisic 64′) – Lewandowski