3 Things We Noticed: FC Bayern – Borussia Dortmund 4:1 (2:1)

Justin Separator April 8, 2017

On matchday 28, Bayern’s main mission was to gain some confidence, as the Champions League clash against Real Madrid was only a few more days away. Their opponent was a weakened, yet motivated BVB.

FC Bayern against DortmundBayern against Dortmund – basic formations

3 Things we noticed

1. Bayern’s work against the ball

In the opening minutes, the Bavarians turned few chances into two goals. There’s currently not much to criticize when it comes to this team’s efficiency. Thus, it seems rather likely that Bayern will manage to score goals against Madrid.

The bigger question mark however is the work against the ball. Facing an offensive-minded Dortmund, there were both weaknesses and strengths revealed.

Positive things include the counter-pressing following turnovers and the one-on-one defending of the back line. Even in more complicated moments, Bayern managed to allow only few chances. Dembele’s dribbles and Aubameyang’s runs were defended well most of the times.

Javi Martinez obviously is a shining example for great defensive work. Philipp Lahm and Jerome Boateng did a similarly solid job against Dortmund. David Alaba, on the other hand, appeared a bit weaker, struggling to contain Dembele at times. His task on Wednesday won’t be any easier, as Gareth Bale will be his main opponent then.

Generally, it can be stated that Bayern have developed in this area. At the beginning of the season, the counter defending was weak and areas between the lines not covered well – those things look much better now. While it’s impossible not to give up anything against offenses like Dortmund’s, scoring chances were limited.

One thing that can and should be improved on Wednesday is the attacking pressing. It worked decently after turnovers but, once settled in possession, Dortmund repeatedly managed to get the ball into free spaces. They failed to take advantage of these small mistakes, something Real Madrid are unlikely to repeat.

On Wednesday night, both teams will field great attacking players – making the defensive work much more decisive. If Bayern manage to improve their game against the ball, it will be difficult for Madrid to score a goal at Allianz Arena. Despite Bale, despite Benzema, despite Ronaldo.

2. Robben and Lahm in shape, Alaba not so much

Another key factor for the upcoming CL match will be Bayern’s right flank. Marcelo, Madrid’s left-back, is one of their key players and highly capable of influencing his team’s offense and pace.

This only makes Robben and Lahm more important, as they will have to make sure that Marcelo is kept busy in his own half. Against Dortmund, both started most fabulously. In the strong opening phase, practically every attack came from the right wing. Lahm overlapping Robben, Robben cutting inside, creating space for each other – as well-known as effective.

Dortmund completely failed to control these two. Whenever Thiago supported them from the half-space, it meant trouble – as seen prior to the opening goal. Robben ended the match with 12 shots taken, completing 24 of 28 passes in the attacking third and playing two key passes – not to mention his well-deserved goal. The Dutchman again and again fooled the BVB defense, as his 8 succesful dribblings prove.

Lahm set up many attacks, provided the usual intelligence and kept Dortmund’s left side under control. A key pass, 64 successful passes, five interceptions and three famous Lahm tackles shaped a remarkable performance by the captain, one that gives hope for the Madrid matchup.

On the other wing, synergies weren’t quite as visible. Ribery did a great job and was highly involved in the Bavarian attacking game but Alaba struggled to support the Frenchman. Maybe this is caused by Ribery’s new role. While he benefits from the more central role, it makes Alaba look more isolated. Once again, Bayern were lopsided in favor of the right side. It will be interesting to see whether this lack of balance will help or hurt in the Champions League.

3. Focus with the ball

Efficiency or not, it has to be stated that Dortmund were awarded a handful of counter-attacking opportunities. These mostly resulted from simple turnovers, as Vidal, Ribery or Robben acted too carelessly or too egoistically.

The positioning wasn’t the issue, as it looked very decent compared to the recent past. Often it was the decision making that took too long or that a better-positioned teammate was ignored.

Three years ago, such careless mistakes were a main cause for the clear loss against Madrid. On Wednesday, this will have to be avoided. Central areas will be important and one can be sure that the Spaniards will ruthlessly take advantage of similar situations.

Defensive support for the wingers needs to be better, as well. Almost every Ribery turnover resulted in a dangerous counter.

All in all, however, Bayern showed a very good performance that gives us hope that the remaining 5% can be activated against Real Madrid. A Bundesliga top team was controlled and dominated, despite Dortmund playing decently themselves. The difference between the two sides was major.

The away team’s injury worries played their part but they don’t take away a thing from the strong Bayern performance. They managed to stay focused in situations that led to a meltdown earlier in the season. Bayern controlled their opponents when it mattered and gained confidence for the big one on Wednesday.


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FC Bayern – Borussia Dortmund 4:1 (2:1)
FC Bayern Ulreich – Lahm, Martinez (79. Hummels), Boateng, Alaba – Alonso, Vidal – Robben, Thiago, Ribery (74. Costa) – Lewandowski (72. Kimmich)
Subs Starke – Bernat, Rafinha, Coman
Borussia Dortmund Bürki – Passlack, Ginter, Sokratis, Bartra, Schmelzer – Dembele (59. Mor), Castro (46. Rode), Guerreiro (69. Merino), Pulisic – Aubameyang
Subs Weidenfeller – Bender, Piszczek, Sahin
Goals 1:0 Ribery (4.), 2:0 Lewandowski (10.), 2:1 Guerreiro (20.), 3:1 Robben (49.), 4:1 Lewandowski (68., penalty)
Cards Yellow: Lewandowski, Vidal / Passlack, Bartra, Bürki
Referee Marco Fritz (Korb)
Attendance 75.000 (sold out)

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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