Week ten of the Bundesliga season saw FC Bayern entertain Borussia Dortmund in the latest instalment of Der Klassiker – but one that had 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 the foot of the table.
There would be an extra layer of excitement for Bayern fans – it wasn’t 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 came into the game with nothing to lose, setting things up nicely for a pulsating clash.
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola made his usual tweaks to the starting eleven that had beaten Hamburg in midweek: the three-man back line saw 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 came in for Rafinha and Franck Ribéry. Dortmund coach Klopp also made three changes, with Łukasz Piszczek, Sven Bender and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang coming in for Neven Subotić, Kevin Grosskreutz and Ciro Immobile.
A capacity crowd saw the home side start in typical fashion, immediately dominating possession. With just six minutes gone Robben created 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 quickly settled 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 shot wide for the visitors, while a lovely looping ball from Jérôme Boateng into the opposition penalty area was 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 found the back of the Armenian’s head.
Bayern continued 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 forced Manuel Neuer into his first save of the game.
With half an hour gone the Munich side quickly moved the ball up to the other side of the field, but this time were caught cold as their opponents presented a textbook response. Japanese international Shinji Kagawa’s pass found the fast-moving Aubameyang down the right, and the Gabonese international crossed perfectly for Marco Reus to head home. Having sprinted ahead of Benatia, the sprightly Reus – linked by the press with a move to Munich – got in between the Moroccan and Boateng to beat the helpless Neuer.
With the home crowd slightly stunned Bayern immediately upped the ante as Weidenfeller clawed away a Müller cross and Bernat shot wide of the target, and just moments later Müller was denied by the Dortmund ‘keeper, who was quickly off his line to crowd out and foil Der Raumdeuter.
Dortmund would go into half-time with a 1-0 lead, but Bayern would continue to test ‘keeper Roman Weidenfeller
Stung by the scoreline the home side continued to press, and five minutes from half-time Robben had a wonderful opportunity to level the scores. The Dutchman had collected 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 saw Bayern continue to put their squeeze on their opponents. Die Roten’s first break came right at the start of the half, with Dortmund captain Mats Hummels having to make way for the unpredictable Serb Neven Subotić.
Right from the whistle Guardiola’s side looked to dominate, with the Spanish coach looking increasingly animated on the touchline as both Xabi Alonso and Robben again warmed Weidenfeller’s gloves. Dortmund looked far more timid that they had been in the first half, which simply allowed for a series of red waves surge forward. On fifty-two minutes Robert Lewandowski had an excellent chance to score against his former team, but Weidenfeller again positioned 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 continued to come and go for Bayern with Müller having another shot blocked and Benatia heading wide, and in what was a rare counterattack for the visitors Kagawa sent a low snapshot wide of Neuer’s left upright. Benatia had an even better chance to level the scores five minutes past the hour, rising clear to 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 continued to build to an almost insane level.
After another Robben shot had been snaffled up by the seemingly unbeatable Weidenfeller, the big change finally came. With twenty minutes left on the clock, the somewhat disappointing Mario Götze made way for Ribéry – who made 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 purposefully made his way in from the left looking for Robben. The Frenchman’s pass was half-intercepted by Subotić, inadvertently setting up Lewandowski. With Weidenfeller completely wrong-footed, the Pole brought Bayern level with a graceful sweep of his left foot. The celebration against his former side was muted, but clear.
Robert Lewandowski celebrates Bayern’s equaliser against his former team
With Klopp’s side now left reeling on the ropes from Lewandowski’s uppercut Die Roten continued to press for the crucial blow as the game ticked into the final quarter of an hour. Claudio Pizarro replaced the slightly flat Müller and the Peruvian forced yet another save from Weidenfeller as Dortmund held on for dear life, but just moments later Subotić held 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 confidently stepped up to send the ball low into the bottom left-hand corner.
Arjen Robben strokes home the winning goal from the penalty spot
The final act saw Weidenfeller make his way into the Bayern penalty area as his side won a corner deep into injury time, but a clean collection by Neuer and the final whistle brought the curtain down on another memorable encounter between these two teams. Bayern had maintained their lead at the top of the table ahead of VfL Wolfsburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach, while Jürgen Klopp’s Hallowe’en nightmare continued as his team continued their downward slide. Following SC Freiburg’s first win of the season the following day, Dortmund joined 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.
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