Der Klassiker once again lived up to its billing as one of the top matches in the Bundesliga with a highly entertaining game at the Allianz Arena replete with five goals, a Robert Lewandowski/ Erling Haaland head-to-head and plenty of talking points. So, what did we learn from Saturday night’s top game?
1. Robert Lewandowski is beyond superlatives.
The scary thing about the scoring feats of Bayern’s star striker this season, is that people are not surprised when he bags a hattrick in one of the biggest games of the season- it seems almost normal or expected.
Going into the clash with Dortmund and with RB Leipzig temporarily occupying top spot in the league, Lewandowski had an incredible goals per game ratio of 1.27. If anyone doubted his ability to repeat the goalscoring heroics of last season, they were sorely mistaken.
However, in the early stages of Saturday night’s game, he was upstaged by Dortmund’s very own goal machine with Erling Haaland banging in two goals within the first ten minutes. Bayern didn’t panic and normal service was resumed with Lewandowski replying in the 26th minute before levelling things up from the penalty spot just before half-time.
Leon Goretzka’s 88th minute goal won it for Bayern, but the Polish hit man was not content with a brace and duly completed his treble in time added on. In the all-time Bundesliga scorer’s table, he is now just one goal behind second placed Klaus Fischer is still very much on course to beat Gerd Müller’s seemingly unbeatable 40 goals a season record.
Insert your own superlative (it won’t be adequate though).
2. Dortmund won’t be sending Marco Fritz a Christmas card.
Dortmund can take a lot of positives from the game- especially the way they came roaring out of the blocks to stun Bayern in the opening ten minutes, but they left the pitch at the Allianz Arena with possibly more regrets than items of satisfaction.
The main target of their frustration wasn’t necessarily themselves, but referee Marco Fritz. The team, and captain Marco Reus in particular, were furious that Bayern’s third goal was allowed to stand after what they saw as a clear foul by Leroy Sané on Emre Can. Reus didn’t mince his words after the match claiming that Bayern would have been awarded a free kick had it been the other way around.
“For me it is a clear foul,” Reus told Sky Germany. “I’ll be honest: If it were against Bayern, the referee would have whistled 100 per cent. It is like that. Nothing to add.”
BVB trainer Edin Terzic agreed saying, “For me it is also a clear foul. But we have to accept it now.”
The victim of the supposed foul Emre Can, while not 100% convinced of the foul, did find the referees handling of the second half concerning. “In general, I think that in the second half the referee whistled too much. I don’t think we had a single foul in our favour. That interrupts the rhythm sometimes, you want to be there- you’re in a dual and the referee whistles for red. That happened too often today, and I told him that personally.”
Sour grapes or a genuine case of refereeing bias? That would depend on the colour of your allegiance.
3. The evolution of Leroy Sané is coming along very nicely.
While Robert Lewandowski stole the show with his hattrick, the performance of Leroy Sané would have pleased Bayern fans greatly. The 25-year-old is really maturing into a top player for the club and his influence on Saturday was there for all to see. His direct dribbling caused all sorts of problems, but he doesn’t do it without purpose- there was always an end result as seen in his assist for Bayern’s first goal.
He didn’t hide from his defensive duties though and his combative dual with Emre Can led to the third goal, which secured the vital win. Before that he had got himself in a very important position on the half mark to stop Erling Haaland completing his own hattrick after a good ball from Marco Reus.
Sané is evolving nicely at the Allianz Arena and is beginning to fully justify Bayern’s pursuit of him following his serious knee injury.
4. When the going gets tough…
…the tough get going. Bayern were seriously tested by Borussia Dortmund finding themselves 2-0 down within the opening ten minutes and a rampaging Erling Haaland looked to have the beating of Jerome Boateng.
They however showed great resilience, and to emerge 4-2 winners was testament to this. RB Leipzig’s win earlier in the day saw Julian Nagelsmann’s side move above Bayern into top spot, but ‘normal service’ was resumed by the end of Saturday.
Bayern are not going to give up their grip of the Meisterschale easily, and if anybody thought there would be an opportunity to usurp them after their treble season and under these exceptional Covid circumstances, they may need to reconsider.
Yes, there are issues defensively, but Bayern always look capable of scoring one (or two) more than their opponents regardless of the frailties of the back line at times. If the Roten Bullen want the league title, they are going to have to do something incredibly special to prise it away from Bavaria.