By Oliver Trust

After such a outstanding game like the German “classico” between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich (0-0), some questions may have been answered and some others are still burning hot on the agenda of Bayern Munich.

Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich
The Bavarians defended their five-point lead in the Bundesliga and they came through a crunch situation. Both pieces of news are good news. However at the same time they did not find answers to fundamental questions like the one of how to beat top teams with strong defenses.

The very same problem will be encountered in ten days against Juventus Turin.

“We can live with a draw like that but I would’ve been happier if we’d scored. We were the better team,” said Bayern Munich striker Thomas Mueller. “This game showed us that we have to stay concentrated right up until the end. If we don’t we could quite possibly not achieve our goals.”

Looking at the Juve game, the German “classico” was not only a game affecting the German Championship, but at the same time was a serious test for Bayern Munich in respect of the second leg against the Italians (2-2 first leg) in the round of the last 16 of the Champions League on March 16.

Like Mueller, not many of Bayern’s squad were happy about the 0-0 draw in Dortmund, especially as they had missed many gilt-edged chances, but again the game was a test of great value ahead of the upcoming challenge in the Champions League as second-placed Borussia Dortmund was a kind of “doppelganger” for Juventus Turin.

Dortmund changed its three-man defense, when in possession, into a 5-4-1 system when Bayern had the ball.

It is a similar concept to that of Juventus and is accompanied by fast counter attacks. Douglas Costa in particular came in for close attention from right-back Lukasz Piszczek and midfielder Erik Durm before the striker was replaced by Franck Ribery.

Bayern tried to stop Dortmund’s strong offense, primarily Aubameyang but also Marco Reus and Henrik Mkhitaryan, with Arturo Vidal and Xabi Alonso as a “double six” midfield in front of a four-man defense.

It did not always work well as Alonso sometimes dropped back too far to strengthen the defense while Vidal operated further up field. Meaning: A dangerous gap opened up in Bayern’s midfield.

Not only former Bayern (1998-2004/2007-2008) and Dortmund (1991-1997) coach Ottmar Hitzfeld predicted the game in Dortmund would to be the most important one for Bayern in the last months of Pep Guardiola. “If Bayern had lost this game, it would have had an enormous effect on the Champions League duel against Juventus,” said Hitzfeld.

Meaning: Losing to Dortmund would make it all the more likely that Pep Guardiola will not be able to finish off on a high note at the end of this season and his three year reign as he will join Premier League club Manchester City next summer.

Recently Guardiola announced his main goal this season is to win the Champions League and not just the German title. There can be no doubt that not to make it into the final of the Champions League would be a disappointment.

To be eliminated even before that would be akin to a catastrophe. Some feel it would then become difficult for Bayern to defend their lead in the Bundesliga until the end of the current season.

Hitzfeld recently assumed that “Bayern showed some weak moments in the defense despite an extremely high percentage of possession. They were not concentrated enough in the man-on-man situations near their own box. At the same time they sometimes squander goal-scoring chances. That fact, I am sure, will be closely watched by Juventus.”

The lessons of the “Juve” test for Bayern in Dortmund has to be: Stay fully-focussed over 90 minutes and use every single chance you get to score. In Dortmund, Bayern did have as much of the ball as usual. It only totalled 58 percent and was the lowest this season. The figure was even lower in the first half before they increasingly took control of the game.

The only problem was: They did not score despite having several chances (Mueller, Costa, Vidal). It cannot be a serious match plan against Juve to reach the next round with a 0-0 draw. Only one Juve goal would mean the end of all dreams. But against Juve, Bayern will have to deal with a similar tactical situation and mental pressure.

At least Bayern’s back line of Philipp Lahm, David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich worked well together as the team still has to replace key injured players, Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber and Javier Martinez.

In Dortmund, 21-year-old Kimmich played 90 minutes on a high level and even stopped Dortmund’s “Speedy Gonzalez” Aubameyang. In the first leg against Juve, Kimmich twice seemed slightly overwhelmed as he was not close enough to Juve’s goalscorers after Bayern relinquished a 2-0 lead.

Dortmund in the second half mainly relied on its defensively orientated 5-4-1 system which was hard to break down by Bayern. Though Bayern increased their pace, Dortmund’s wall remained impenetrable.

In the first match between the two top German clubs, Bayern managed to score five times (5-1). But back in October 2015, Borussia Dortmund was nowhere near the form in which they could pose as the “doppelganger” of a team like Juventus Turin.

This time Dortmund was just the right challenge for Bayern in advance of the Juve re-match. Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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