Bayern Munich’s statement 4-2 win over Borussia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena on Saturday gave new trainer Thomas Tuchel the ideal start to life in the Bavarian hotseat and restored the Rekordmeister to the top of the table. With nine games to go it is advantage Bayern, but do we still have a genuine title race?
The answer to that question depends very much on how Dortmund come back from the chastening loss in the matchday 26 Klassiker. To be fair, the game was decided before half time with Bayern racing into a 3-0 lead instigated by Gregor Köbel’s atrocious howler. Dortmund did however improve in the second 45 minutes and made the defeat slightly less shameful with two goals of their own.
Edin Terzic’s ability to raise his team after the shock to their system will prove decisive. Dortmund have been much more consistent under Terzic- indeed making up 10 points on Bayern since the Rückrunde restart, but he’ll have to get their heads back in the game as they return to being the chasers in the title race.
If the Schwarzgelben can admit defeat against Bayern and move on to beating their remaining eight opponents, then yes, the title race is still on. Bayern have the added burden of a Champions League quarter-final double header against Manchester City and Pep Guardiola to deal with as well as possible further exertions should they progress against the English champions.
Bayern’s remaining league fixtures:
Freiburg (a), Hoffenheim (h), Mainz (a), Hertha Berlin (h), Werder Bremen (a), Schalke (h), RB Leipzig (h), Köln (a)
The four homes games look pretty straight-forward with only Leipzig a potential banana skin (although not on the form they are showing currently). It could be up to Freiburg and Mainz to take points off the leaders. The prospect of the title race going down to the final trip to Köln is an outside chance. Winning seven and drawing one would give Bayern 22 points meaning Dortmund would require 24 points (eight wins) to snatch the title in dramatic style.
Dortmund’s remaining league fixtures:
Union Berlin (h), VfB Stuttgart (a), Eintracht Frankfurt (h), VfL Bochum (a), VfL Wolfsburg (h), Borussia Mönchengladbach (h), Augsburg (a), Mainz (h)
BVB have five home fixtures, but their run-in does look somewhat tougher than Bayern. Union Berlin are still fighting for a top four finish as are Eintracht Frankfurt. Augsburg away from home will be a tough nut to crack (remember they beat Bayern), while the battling qualities of Bochum and Mainz could prove problematic.
With just one point separating Bayern and Borussia Dortmund, we do still have a genuine title race, but FCB have gained the initiative and it’s theirs to lose. There could still be plenty of twists and turns in the race for the Meisterschale, but don’t be surprised if the Bierduschen at the season’s end involve Paulaner rather than Brinkhoff’s No.1.