3 Things We Noticed: FC Bayern – Borussia Dortmund 2-3 (2-1)

DFB Cup. Dortmund, yet again – like every year. Another dramatic game – like every year. Author: Steffen • Translator: Bettina

In the end, the team in black and yellow moved on to the cup final in Berlin, like 2015. Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso won’t be able to finish off their careers with the DFB Cup trophy. And all that although Bayern had good chances of winning the game.

FC Bayern versus Borussia DortmundFC Bayern versus Borussia Dortmund – basic formations

3 things we noticed

1. Hummels’ substitution changed the game

A lot has been said about Bayern’s possession game this season – like against Real, however, it wasn’t the real issue in the game against Dortmund. FC Bayern had enough major chances to score five or six goals – two of them went in, at least. Like in Madrid. Unfortunately, they conceded three – it had been six in two games against Madrid.

Subbing off Hummels – likely due to injury – was a key moment. He had played an extraordinary game, not just because of his goal, but because he stopped four Dortmund attacks with excellent individual actions. That, too, was reminiscent of the game against Real, where he and Neuer blocked several good opportunities.

When Hummels left the field in the 61st minute, the score was 2-1. In the end, Dortmund went through to the final. Of course, not everything can be pinned on to one player, but Bayern were lacking their best tackler afterwards. Ahead of the 2-2 equaliser, Alonso lost a ball while going forward, but Bayern then played 7 v 3 at their own penalty box – an obvious numerical superiority. And yet, the team didn’t manage to put enough pressure on Dembélé, who played the decisive cross, and to even get a chance at a tackle.

In the build-up to the 2-3, Lahm lost the ball, and again, nobody managed to stop Dembélé.

With all the hectic outrage that will surround the club over the next few days, this is something that will have to be analysed calmly and objectively. The three centre backs, to be supported by Süle next season, are very good – on paper. Maybe the issues during the last couple games can be found more in central midfield, or on the wings. Missed chances are neither here nor there, when really, two goals scored against Borussia Dortmund, at home, should have been enough in a cup semi-final.

2. Tuchel’s adaptations hurt Bayern

So far, David Alaba had been one of Munich’s weaker players. Harmless, with a lack of ideas in offensive play, often not precise enough in his passing, solid defensively, but with obvious deficits in making decisions. Against Dortmund, he was a key player.

The Austrian started off weak, not really daring to go past the half-way line due to the potential danger of Dembélé. Only when Dortmund scored the opener and Bayern was forced to take more risks did he start influencing the game. Because Ribéry was playing quite wide to draw apart Dortmund’s midfield and to make running paths longer for Dembélé, who kept going back into defense, Alaba could focus on running past his team-mate.

Together, the two resuscitated their dangerous, combined play on the wing that had been missing for vast stretches of this season. Both offered Alonso the chance to switch sides beautifully – also because Dortmund was focusing more on pushing toward’s Bayern’s right side. Alaba made it possible for Ribéry to be part of many offensive actions in and around Dortmund’s penalty box.

But then Tuchel switched his team up during half-time, brought on Durm, and with him an additional help in their back five. This took the drive out of Bayern’s play on the wings, because it enabled Dembélé to position himself higher up and therefore limited Alaba’s ability to go forward. From minute 60 onwards, he was involved almost exclusively in defensive work.

In a way, it was fitting for his season that of all the players, his direct opponent was responsible for the two decisive goals against Bayern.

3. Eperience isn’t everything

It’s difficult to accept that in three decisive games of the season, Bayern were in the lead, and failed to win all three of them. Against Madrid, Bayern were ahead twice and fell apart after red cards, especially the first leg with a weak, confused second half comes to mind here. Same story against Dortmund, Bayern were up by one goald, had the game under control, were playing their way towards the third goal – and have ended up empty-handed in the domestic cup, as well.

It’s all the worse because the huge experience of both team and coach should have been a trump card in these games. Ancelotti, Lahm, Alonso, Müller, Boateng, Vidal, Hummels, Robben, Ribéry – all of them have seen pretty much everything in their footballing careers. They know what makes a game turn, and how negative dynamics can be stopped. Against Dortmund and Real, not much of that could be seen. Simple mistakes and tactics that were too offensively-minded in critical moments made these losses possible. That’s difficult to grasp.

Ancelotti will surely have to answer questions around his part in more calmness, more order in the defining moments of the game against Dortmund. But one can’t let the players get away too easily, either. Nobody expected this team to run more, or faster, than Dortmund’s young squad. But everybody expected them to be smarter and cooler than their opponents, and rightfully so. That the team didn’t manage to do that, of all the things, is the realisation of this cup night that hurts the most.

FC Bayern – Borussia Dortmund 2-3 (2-1)
FC BayernUlreich – Lahm, Martinez, Hummels (61′ Boateng), Alaba – Vidal, Alonso (79′ Müller)- Robben, Thiago, Ribéry (86′ Costa) – Lewandowski
BenchStarke, Bernat, Kimmich, Sanches, Coman
Borussia DortmundBürki – Piszczek (80′ Pulisic), Sokratis, Bender, Schmelzer – Castro (46′ Durm), Weigl – Dembele, Guerreiro – Aubameyang, Reus (91′ Ginter)
BenchWeidenfeller, Kagawa, Merino, Isak
Goals0-1 Reus (19′), 1-1 Martinez (29′), 2-1 Hummels (41′), 2-2 Aubameyang (69′), 2-3 Dembele (74′)
Yellow CardsAlonso, Robben / Bürki, Weigl, Dembele
RefereeManuel Gräfe (Berlin)
Attendance75.000 (sold out)


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