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Maurice Separator February 22, 2019

It was two goalless draws that gave most Bayern fans joy and a shimmer of hope this week. A sentence that you certainly wouldn’t have expected before the season. Yet BVB’s slip-up at relegation candidates Nuremberg and shortly 24 hours later the draw at Anfield Road against the dreaded Liverpool were exactly that: a shimmer of hope.

Strength of schedule

In American sports, often before or during the season the so-called “strength of schedule” is looked into to analyse which team has the most difficult tasks ahead of them in the remainder of the season. This principle shall be used in this article to analyze the remaining meetings in the championship duel.

There are still twelve matchdays left until the end of the season. FC Bayern will contest seven of those at home at the Allianz Arena, while Dortmund will only run out six more times in front of the Yellow Wall. Presumably a small advantage for the challengers from the Bavarian capital.

Bayern, however, will still play against five of the top seven in the league. The Schwarz-Gelben only have to play against four such opponents. The average position of Bayern’s opponents for the rest of the season is 9.25. For Dortmund, the median opposition are slightly worse with 9.67.

More interesting, however, is a consideration of the number of points. For this, the table after the 22nd matchday was consulted. The average adversary of FC Bayern has taken 30.83 points so far, making that more than a point more than Dortmund’s opponents.

Dortmund to the title at home?

The analysis becomes more detailed still if you consider the home and away games separately and consult each respective table. At home, BVB have so far been imperious. In eleven games 29 points were picked up, with the only draws coming against Hoffenheim and Hertha. Bayern have been somewhat more successful away from home, and lead the league in that category. At home, a weak 21 points has been the return from ten games.

Over the rest of the season, Bayern have to contest seven more games at home, among others against a Wolfsburg team strong on the road. The club from the home of the German car industry occupies a strong third place in the away table and have taken five points more on the road than at home. The peak of the home games, of course, will be the head-to-head game for the title on the 6th of April against Dortmund, arriving as the second-best away side.

It could come down to the first final-day title decision for Bayern since 2001. Then it was Bayern and captain Effenberg celebrating.
(Picture: Andreas Rentz/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Dortmund, meanwhile, still have Leverkusen to play at home this weekend. After that, however, the remaining five games will see visits from four teams who take less than a point per away game. Borussia dropping points on the way to the title in the Westfalenstadion, then, seems unlikely, if it doesn’t happen at the weekend.

Similarly tricky teams are up ahead on the road for both teams. Both still have yet to go to second-strongest home side Borussia Mönchengladbach. Dortmund go as late as the 34th and final matchday.

If you take into consideration the home and away tables and calculate the average points tally, this trend is confirmed. Bayern’s opponents pick up on average 1.34 points per away game, while Dortmund’s are clearly weaker with 1.09 points. For the away games, the points tallies are essentially the same with 1.69 points per game for Bayern’s adversaries and 1.66 points for those of the Schwarz-Gelben.

The average table positions in the home and away table stands at 8.58 for the Rekordmeister’s opponents and at 10.33 for Dortmund’s opposition. Another advantage for BVB.

Disadvantage English weeks?

Having been knocked out of the DFB Pokal, an additional burden was shed by Dortmund. In the Champions League, too, last year’s fourth-placed side are on the brink of going out, while Bayern can justifiably hope for progression.
For the schedule, that leads to a few overlaps. Bayern, then, will have to contest the cup quarter-final against Heidenheim (3rd April) during the week before the likely decisive direct duel against Dortmund (6th April). Favre will certainly make the most of the extra regeneration time and preparation time.

Should Bayern get into the semi-final in both cup competitions, further unpleasant overlaps loom. Then, a Champions League quarter-final first leg (9th/10th April) would take place directly following the game against Dortmund (6th April) and a potential second league in the semi-final (7th/8th May) directly before the showdown in Leipzig (11th May).

Now, that’s certainly all still far away, but it can still be doubted whether Bayern’s small squad is made for those weeks with the given injury-proneness of several players. Kovač will inevitably have to rotate to ease the burden of a few players and avoid a week-long three day rhythm.

Individual suspensions, like Müller’s and Kimmich’s in the round-of-16 against Liverpool, could also shrink the already small squad even more.

Bayern Munich holds back Liverpool and the inevitable, for one more night | Rory Smith | New York Times

Arjen Robben: ‘If you ask what is the worst stadium for me, it’s Liverpool’ | Nick Ames | The Guardian

Bayern fight and scrap to earn an edge vs. Liverpool but need a change of focus in Munich | Raphael Honigstein | ESPN

Bayern have regained that winning feeling but more through individual quality than collective development | Raphael Honigstein | Unibet

Kop On Special: Bayern Munich! [Podcast] | KopOn!

With Bayern move sealed, Booth eyes bright future for both club & country | Brian Sciaretta | American Soccer Now

Why are Bayern Munich better with midfield metronome Thiago? | Andy Smith | Bundesliga

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