It has been an incredibly brilliant season for Bayern in all competitions. Borussia Dortmund has also had a great season so far but has failed to replicate their form on the European stage in the Bundesliga.
Both sides are coming off games in which they certainly did not perform their best.
Ahead of this one, Jürgen Klopp, assuming his side could get the job done against Fortuna, sent Mario Götze, Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gündogan off to the stands. Admittedly, Götze was carrying a minor injury. Klopp used a defensive midfield pairing of Sven Bender and Sebastian Kehl for this one, but his plan backfired.
For the first 12 minutes, the stadium was completely silent as they protested the strict measures which were being planned for fans in the Bundesliga due to recent problems with pyrotechnics. The silence turned into intense, warm roars and cheers for BVB after the 12th minute, but play did not improve.
Fortuna held BVB well for the first half an hour. After that, BVB started to step it up. Eventually Jakub Blaszczykowski scored a brilliant goal to give his side the lead.
The second half saw the game open up. Fortuna stuck to their defensive strategy but attacked with added impetus. Stefan Reisinger blocked his own player’s shot to see Fortuna miss their best opportunity of the game.
However, the warning signs were there. BVB almost asked for an equalizer. And their questions were answered shortly afterwards.
Robbie Kruse, the best player in Fortuna, set up Reisinger for a header. Fortuna lost a man but saw the result through as Kevin Grosskreutz proceeded to hilariously miss from point blank range. Nonetheless, the draw was the right result considering the proceedings.
Away from the Ruhr, in the Black Forest, Max Kruse’s miss allowed Bayern to breathe. Bayern once again struggled against 10 men. Jupp Heynckes decided not to risk Bastian Schweinsteiger; hence a new defensive midfield pairing emerged in Toni Kroos and Javier Martinez. Mario Gomez started as the sole front man.
Bayern started off the better side and was awarded a penalty for a handball in, ironically, the 12th minute. Thomas Müller converted with ease. Bayern went up a man when Xherdan Shaqiri’s diving skills combined with a tug from behind from Fallou Diagne saw the Freiburg player receive a straight red card.
However, Bayern’s performance went downhill from then on. They seemed to miss Mario Mandzukic’s work ethic as well as Toni Kroos’ attacking midfield qualities. They were a little too open.
Due to the weather perhaps, Javier Martinez mistimed some tackles and some passes. Bayern was caught offside many times, and Franck Ribery couldn’t find the target if his life depended on it that day.
It was left to Anatoliy Tymoshchuk to save the day.
After Neuer had made a wonderful save from Kruse, Tymo added a second. He was set up by a wonderful long ball from Philipp Lahm. Tymo beat Oliver Baumann rather easily to clinch the three points for Bayern.
Bayern was the marginally better team in this one. Nonetheless, a better performance will be needed to beat BVB.
Bayern fans have fond memories from the last meeting with BVB. In the German Supercup, Bayern beat them 2-1 to take the title. Mario Mandzukic was immense that day and constantly hassled the BVB players. Bayern was up by two goals rather quickly and had chances to add a third and put the game to bed. However, they seemed to like the tension and obviously did not do that.
Bayern played the match with a defensive midfield pairing of Luiz Gustavo and Toni Kroos. The two got overrun in the second half, but the defence held BVB off, and Bayern eventually crossed the finish line.
The five matches prior to that obviously do not provide fond memories for Bayern.
The defeat in the Pokal final (5-2) was embarrassing to say the least. The two meetings in the Bundesliga were extremely close. Both were 1-0 victories and both went to BVB. Bayern had chances to win the second encounter, which took place at the Westfalenstadion, but failed to do so as Arjen Robben played Robert Lewandowski on for the Dortmund goal, missed a penalty and then proceeded to miss when it was easier to score.
Speaking of Robben, he was said to be available for this one, but chances are that Heynckes will leave him on the bench. As far as Dortmund is concerned, a partnership of Sven Bender and Sebastian Kehl is unlikely in defensive midfield. Ilkay Gündogan should return for this one. Kevin Grosskreutz might be benched too. Gustavo is unlikely to be available for this.
Predicted line-up for Bayern:
Philipp Lahm, Dante, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba
Bastian Schweinsteiger, Javier Martinez
Thomas Müller, Toni Kroos, Franck Ribery
Predicted line-up for Dortmund:
Lukasz Pizsczek, Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Marcel Schmelzer
Sven Bender, Ilkay Gündogan
Jakub Blaszczykowski, Mario Götze, Marco Reus
The game plans won’t change for either team.
Dortmund will try to hassle the Bayern players. They will pick up any loose ball and will attack as fast as lightning. The Bayern back line, as well as the defensive midfield, will have to prevent any such attacks. Meanwhile, Bayern will press BVB too and will in all likelihood have more possession than the opposition.
Bayern has lost only one Bundesliga game so far and that came to Leverkusen. They have a 10 point lead on Leverkusen at the top, and that will perhaps not increase as Bayer 04 plays Nürnberg this weekend.
However, they can distance themselves from the reigning champions. With a win, they will open up a 14 point lead on them. That lead would be massive and would lead to Uli Hoeness planning celebrations on the Marienplatz with a replica of the title (or using one from Bayern’s museum).
All jokes aside, Bayern has a score to settle in this one. They beat BVB in the Supercup. They will look to repeat the victory.
Prediction: Bayern 2-1 BVB