Decaffeinated Champions League final prelude – Dortmund and Bayern play out a tense 1-1 draw

It was never going to be a classic due to last week’s Champions League matches, but this year’s finalists of Europe’s top competition played out a 1-1 draw at the Signal-Iduna Park with mostly reserves, especially for the away side.

Jürgen Klopp made five changes from last week’s match against Real Madrid whilst Jupp Heynckes started only four players from the eleven who started against Barça, (Neuer, Van Buyten, Boateng and Alaba) as this top-of-the-table clash was more of a formality than anything else, as both sides had secured their league positions beforehand. However, it turned out to be far from that.

Klopp played Ilkay Gündoğan behind Robert Lewandowski and Julian Schieber out wide on the left, with Kevin Großkreutz filling in at right back, a position which we’ve become accustomed to seeing him in recently. With Gündoğan playing as a trequartista, Klopp looked for his vision to thread Lewandowski or play in Blaszczykowski, although it was a short-lived experiment as Gündoğan came off with an apparent muscular problem just before the quarter-hour mark, being replaced by Moritz Leitner.

However, three minutes earlier, Dortmund had taken the lead. Blaszczykowski picked up the ball on the left wing and put in a deep cross at the far post that was met by the oncoming Großkreutz with an inside-foot volley that flew in past Manuel Neuer. It wasn’t the kind of goal you’d expect someone like Großkreutz to score but it somehow justified the faith that Klopp has put in him in the past.

Ten minutes later, the scores had been levelled. Rafinha picked out Mario Gomez inside the box with a perfect pinpoint pass to his head that was duly nodded home past Roman Weidenfeller, with Neven Subotić leaving the Bayern striker unmarked in the box to score with all the time and space in the world.

Bayern took over the reins of the match and Shaqiri was looking lively on the right wing, having already missed a 1-on-1 with Weidenfeller at 0-0. Poor choices by the Swiss winger deprived Bayern of increasing their lead, as the Bavarians were finding plenty of space behind Schmelzer for Shaqiri to run onto.

Dortmund too were creating their chances from the wings, especially from the right with Großkreutz and Blaszczykowski, playing the quick short pass football that was so effective in midweek. Both sides were careless in possession but Bayern more so in their own half, which allowed Dortmund to get a hold on the game again, although most of the play was being developed in central midfield. Before the break, both teams had the chance to go a goal up, but saves from Neuer and Weidenfeller from Lewandowski and Gomez meant that it was all level after 45 minutes.

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Attack sides (90′) Borussia Dortmund (left) and Bayern München (right)

 

The second half didn’t change many things in terms of play but 15 minutes in, Dortmund had a golden chance to go a goal up; it was a somewhat unfortunate action for Jerome Boateng as Nuri Şahin’s shot from outside the area hit the Bayern defender on the arm, but referee Peter Gagelmann did not hesitate to point to the spot. Lewandowski stepped up and hit a powerful strike to Neuer’s bottom left but the German international pulled off a brilliant save and palmed the ball out for a corner.

And this is where the match heated up. Rafinha, who loudly protested the penalty decision, was booked two minutes later for fouling Julian Schieber from behind and he was given a second yellow just two minutes later for elbowing Blaszczykowski in the face whilst disputing a ball. The Brazilian did not walk away quietly and poked the Pole in the face, which prompted a reaction from Klopp. An exchange of ‘views’ proceeded and Bayern sporting director and, incidentally, Dortmund legend, Matthias Sammer, came out to the Brazilian’s defence by squaring up with the Dortmund manager. For a match that was supposedly all but a friendly, things were surely heating up.

Play turned a bit aggressive, especially on Bayern’s behalf, and this must have spurred both managers on as Marco Reus and then Thomas Müller took to the field to secure three points for their respective sides. With three minutes to go on the clock, Reus went on one of his classic runs tearing through the defence and laid it off to Julian Schieber, who seemed through on goal but his terrible first touch meant that the chance was wasted.

This was to be the last big chance of the game as both teams had to settle for a draw in the end, bringing Bayern’s 14-match winning streak to an end. It was a tense second 45 minutes that may improve Dortmund’s odds – currently 3/1 with Ladbrokes Champions League betting – for the  the historic all-German final at Wembley. The rivalry between Bayern and Dortmund is quickly becoming one of the best club rivalries in the world as they battle for not only the supremacy of German football, but of all European clubs

Commentary

Mario Gomez’s headed goal was the 13th headed goal that Dortmund have conceded this year, which is more than they conceded like this in the two previous seasons. With Bayern having excellent ball deliverers and headers of the ball, it would be no surprise if it was something that Heynckes tried to exploit in the final. It’s not a matter of height, as Subotić and Santana indeed do have the height, but a matter of positioning, as we clearly saw today. With Bayern’s strikers having sharp poaching instincts, Klopp will definitely have to address his defence’s positioning and communication.

Another point that came across was the appearance of Moritz Leitner. Leitner once again showed that he is too raw for this Dortmund team and that speculation on a loan move would definitely be a good one for him. Where the Bavarian will go is still unknown but what is definite is that he needs to get minutes in order to start vying for a place in Klopp’s side.

A curious aspect of today’s match was how much both teams relied on building play from the wings. Bayern but especially Dortmund relied on their wide players to create the chances for their forwards, with a total of 0 balls being played through, as opposed to a combined 130 long balls between both teams, with Bayern edging the count on that one. However, as mentioned, a worrying stat for both teams is the amount of times that possession was given up cheaply, with both teams failing to put together regular long passing streaks, strange especially for a side like Bayern.

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Finally, the possession favoured Bayern by 53%-47%, which was a lower number for the Bavarians than they have been accustomed to in their recent matchups against Dortmund. If the Champions League semi-finals against Barcelona and Real Madrid have taught us something is that both teams can adapt to different situations; Dortmund can play thrilling vertical football and also take care of the ball and slow the game down when needed, as we saw for 80 minutes at the Bernabéu the other day; Bayern, traditionally a possession side, had only 40% of possession against Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night but still managed to control the game and scored three goals. This versatility is a great indicator of how far German teams have come in recent years and how unexpected the upcoming final will be.

Lineups:

Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller; Großkreutz, Santana, Subotić, Schmelzer; Kehl (Reus, 71′), Şahin; Blaszczykowski (Bender, 84′), Gündoğan (Leitner, 14′), Schieber; Lewandowski.

Bayern München: Neuer, Rafinha, Boateng, Van Buyten, Contento; Luiz Gustavo (Højbjerg, 92′), Tymoschuk; Shaqiri, Pizarro (Müller, 76′), Alaba; Gomez (Can, 67′).

Referee: P. Gagelmann

Venue: Signal-Iduna Park (Dortmund)

Attendance: 80645 spectators

 

Header courtesy of peru.com

All graphs courtesy of whoscored.com

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Aleix Gwilliam

Is a 27-year-old living in Barcelona who gets more pleasure from watching German lower-league football than from going to watch his hometown team at the Camp Nou every other week. Passionate about European football, its history and culture, you can follow him on Twitter at @AleixGwilliam

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