When two of the most successful teams in Bundesliga history go head to head, it’s always going to be a game full of passion, goals, skill and upset.
Munich had the chance to go a remarkable eight points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, and a win for Dortmund would have seen them close the gap between first and second to just two points.
Thomas Tuchel made six changes to the team that won 2-0 at Darmstadt on Wednesday seeing Roman Bürki, Lukasz Piszczek, Sven Bender, Marcel Schmelzer, Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan come in for Adrian Ramos, Neven Subotic, Roman Weidenfeller, Matthias Ginter, Felix Passlack and Gonzalo Castro; lining up in a 3-4-3 formation.
Munich’s midweek upset at Mainz caused for a spot of rotation and formation to Guardiola’s side, who made five changes to the team that lost 2-1 late on to the 5th place side. Douglas Costa, Thomas Müller, Xabi Alonso, Philipp Lahm and 21-year-old Joshua Kimmich came in, replacing Mehdi Benatia, Rafinha, Kingsley Coman, Thiago and Franck Ribery.
Even first half
The game started exactly how a match between two top of the table rivals should, Douglas Costa conceding a free kick within the first minute of the game, the fouls game thick and fast throughout the first two minutes, as the sides in 1st and 2nd tested the water of what to expect as the game went on.
The first real goal threat of the game fell to Thomas Müller inside the fourth minute. Costa causing problems out on the left, knocking the ball past Durm and floating in a looping cross that made its way to Müller who rushed the shot over the bar, a let off to say the least for Dortmund. The Brazilian winger caused problems throughout the game on the left hand side of the pitch, testing the Dortmund defence almost every time he was given consent to attack the box.
Six minutes later, it was Dortmund’s turn to apply the pressure. Midfielder Mkhitaryan orchestrated the run of play once again this season, crafting a sublime pass through the Bayern midfield to Aubameyang. The second highest scorer in the Bundesliga this season outpacing both Bernat and Kimmich and eventually flashing a shot across Neuer’s goal, in which the German palmed away to relieve the tension on the defence who were initially torn apart by the pace and wizardry of Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang.
Plenty of chances
The game was certainly living up to its expectations, providing constant end to end action for viewers to feed their eyes on. Just before the 20 minute mark of the game the two sides came forward again. Firstly, Costa once again causing discomfort for the Dortmund back three, supplying a teasing curling cross into the pass of Vidal who failed to make a real connection with the ball, falling after he let fly.
Two minutes later, it was Durm’s opportunity to break down the Bayern defence, after a neat number of passes between himself and Mkhitaryan, the German found himself in the box and in behind Alonso after producing a marvellous turn to gain space and eventually shoot a low drive inches wide of Neuer’s right post. A huge let off for Bayern.
The intensity of the game did not stop as the chances arrived minute after minute. In Guardiola’s and Bayern’s eyes, the game should’ve changed in the 27th minute as Costa found himself one on one with Bürki after a devastatingly efficient counter attack by Bayern. Robben’s pass curled in behind Weigl who was chasing the Brazilian, finding Costa just outside of the box, who fired his half-hearted shot straight at Bürki. The shot from Costa was not exactly impressive, however the decision making by the Swiss keeper proved to be vital, as he raced off of his line to greet Costa on the edge of the box making himself big in front of goal in the process.
Bayern begin to dominate
Minutes after the reset for the second half, Aubameyang found himself one on one with Neuer. The attack starting from a Dortmund throw in from the halfway line, flicked on by Bender finding Gundogan who produced a glorious ball over the top, taking three Bayern defenders out of the attack. The ball fell into the box to Aubameyang, using his pace and strength to hold off the presence of Kimmich and Alaba, shooting into the torso of Neuer who cleared into the path of Mkhitaryan, failing to compose himself and eventually shooting first time way wide of the goal.
Other than Costa’s one to one chance with Bürki, the best chance of the game fell late to Vidal. Müller connected to a Costa corner and headed the ball into the path of Vidal, who shot viciously at goal. Bürki once again in the game saved Dortmund from a home defeat, producing a remarkable save to deny the Chilean midfielder, pushing the shot onto the crossbar.
The referee blew the whistle after 90 minutes of riveting football, somehow ending the game at 0-0. The final whistle saw a passionate Guardiola embrace young Joshua Kimmich in a fierce ‘pep’ talk full of compliments and advice following his “outstanding” game. Kimmich completed 95% of his passes at the back in a tidy display against the Bundesliga 2nd placed side, appearing all over the pitch.
The table displays a five point gap between league leaders Bayern Munich and second place Borussia Dortmund, with just nine games remaining. Next up for Munich are 13th place Bremen, coming off the back of an impressive 4-1 win over Hannover. Dortmund will face the side 18 points below them in 5th, Mainz, who shocked Bayern in a 2-1 win in midweek, entering the game after a 0-0 draw with 10 men against Darmstadt.