The Allianz Arena clock read 11 minutes. I was wondering whether this match was one of the ‘best executions of tactics’ from Bayern that I had seen for a while. The match wasn’t perfect, but the first half was a demonstration of what Bayern can achieve even when using tactics the coach is not comfortable with.
There was an obvious difference in Bayern’s approach—they were pressing high up the pitch, forcing the Dortmund players into losing the ball, thus ensuring fast counter-attacks. Bayern is quite capable of counter-attacks due to the speed of some of their attackers. The personnel, of course, made a difference as well—particularly Mario Mandzukic.
Despite his great goal-scoring records, nobody is ever convinced by Mario Gomez. The greats of Bayern and the fans are divided in opinion. His namesake, however, has different qualities. While Gomez does try hard, he has never managed to force the Dortmund back-line into such mistakes as Mandzukic did yesterday.
The first goal was pure brilliance from the Croat who beat out three defenders and Roman Weidenfeller. The second was his creation; Bayern launched a fast counter through Luiz Gustavo. Gustavo found Mandzukic who played a brilliant ball to Arjen Robben to send him on his way to the goal. Robben hit the post but Thomas Mueller scored from the rebound.
Mueller’s form seems to be improving with every passing friendly. Recently, after watching the Euros, someone told me that Mueller had lost his ‘charm’. In the past season, it had certainly seemed like that; but nowadays there is that additional vigour about him that was seen in 2009-10.
Dortmund was never going to take defeat easily; they came at Bayern with force. In truth, in the first half, they had little success as Dante and Jerome Boateng stood strong at the back. Bayern had chances for a third. They even had a two-on-one situation as the clock neared 45 minutes, but unfortunately Toni Kroos and Robben just couldn’t combine properly.
In the second half, Bayern was forced into a shell. Dortmund had brilliant chances which they squandered. Neuer, of course, had some moments of brilliance. Bayern had only one clear chance. Robben mustered a shot on goal after beating three defenders but that was really a moment of magic more than anything.
And soon enough, with Bayern looking ever like the team from last season, Dortmund scored. Robert Lewandowski scored out of nothing really as Neuer conceded a goal which a keeper of his quality should not. With the addition of Mario Goetze and Julian Schieber, Dortmund pinned Bayern further and further back.
Goetze almost scored the equalizer; fortunately, Dante got a leg on the ball to take out the velocity and Neuer made an easy save. Holger Badstuber came on for Emre Can who played rather well at left-back. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk was introduced as well as Bayern went defensive. It was the final introduction of Xherdan Shaqiri that helped most—having to deal with another fantastic attacker, Dortmund couldn’t really move forward and Bayern saw out the game.
In 2008, the scenario was almost the same; Bayern entered the Supercup as a double winner while Dortmund was the Pokal runner-up and had been thrashed 5-0 by Bayern in the league. Dortmund took that match 2-1.
At the end, that match wasn’t perfect. The defending on set pieces wasn’t great. They made no use of their corners. Most of the corners turned out to be chances for Dortmund to press the defenders at the back into errors even though Dante had a brilliant game and always cleared the ball with ease.
Philipp Lahm lifted the only trophy he had lifted previously for Bayern (in 2010 in Mark Van Bommel’s absence). Starting a season with a trophy is great for morale. Winning against Dortmund in a game that neither side regarded as a friendly is a great way to start off a season.
If nothing else, this win is a stepping stone in the right direction. Hopefully, it will pave the way for three more trophies.