With little to gain in the Bundesliga and their places in the Champions League final already confirmed, both Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp and Bayern Munich boss Jupp Heynckes rang the changes for Saturday’s head-to-head at the Westfalenstadion.
Given the squad shake-ups and a desire to avoid injury, Der Klassiker often took on the feel of a training match. Although, with neither side much keen on pulling out of a challenge, the encounter in Dortmund had a rather nasty edge to it.
Even so, there was plenty to glean from the 90 minutes, especially with such a high-profile re-match just three weeks away.
Following are six things we learned from Saturday’s match, and each of them will no doubt come into play as both managers prepare for the Wembley final on May 25.
There’s a lot of bad feeling between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, and the mutual dislike was on full display at the Westfalenstadion on Saturday.
Bayern, more often than not, were the aggressors, and it was midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk who led the way, setting the tone with an early foul on Robert Lewandowski.
But Dortmund were hardly angels, and after Bayern right-back Rafinha was sent off for an elbow to the head of Jakub Blaszczykowski, Klopp stomped over to the opposition dugout and confronted Matthias Sammer.
There may not have been a flood of goals in this one, but what became apparent was just how enmity there is between the two sides—something that will be evident again three weeks from now.
He doesn’t start often for Bayern Munich—Philipp Lahm sees to that quite effectively—but Rafinha is the sort of right-back most clubs can only wish they had.
Quick, accurate in his crosses and with a good offensive instinct, he set up the Mario Gomez equalizer in the 23rd minute, although it was his physical play that caught much of the attention on Saturday.
The 27-year-old simply rubbed Julian Schieber out of the match, and he clashed often with Jakub Blaszczykowski as well. In the 62nd minute, he got his marching orders for elbowing the Poland captain in the head—an assault that nearly started a bench-clearing brawl.
At 24, Julian Schieber is in the same age bracket as Robert Lewandowski, Kevin Grosskreutz, Sven Bender and Mats Hummels, but unlike his teammates, the Dortmund attacker has mostly disappointed since arriving at the Westfalenstadion last summer.
With just three Bundesliga goals so far this season—and many performances as poor as Saturday’s—Schieber has been kept on the outskirts of Klopp’s squad. As a result, some of his teammates have had to play more minutes than the manager might have preferred.
Given a huge chance to prove himself against Bayern Munich, Schieber disappointed once again, and it’s hard to see a place for him in Dortmund’s squad next season.
Take Schieber’s performance and extrapolate it.
Dortmund’s Moritz Leitner was poor as well on Saturday, and Nuri Sahin looked nothing like the player who seemed to be headed for stardom two years ago.
Bayern, by comparison, got warrior’s performances from both Tymoshchuk and Rafinha, Diego Contento put in a useful showing, and Mario Gomez scored the guests’ only goal of the game.
After the first XI, Bayern’s squad is immensely superior to Dortmund’s—a fact that was noticeable until Rafinha was sent off just after the hour mark.
Ilkay Gundogan has had a terrific season for Borussia Dortmund, but on Saturday the Germany midfielder lasted just 14 minutes before being substituted by Leitner.
Carrying a niggling leg injury that flared up during the Real Madrid semifinal, the 22-year-old limped off the field and will now be watched closely by Dortmund’s medical team over the next few weeks.
They cannot afford to lose him. Alongside Bender, Gundogan is the metronome of this Dortmund side and also helps provide a reliable shield in front of the defense.
We have only three weeks to wait before these sides go at one another again, although with considerably more on the line.
On May 25, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich will go head to head in the Champions League Final at Wembley—both teams having shellacked their Spanish opposition in the final four.
If previous encounters are any indication, the match will be played at a quick tempo and extremely high skill level, and given Saturday’s match, there could be a few extras as well.
There is no love to lose between Dortmund and Bayern, and you’ve got to think losing the Champions League final will hurt even more than usual for one of them given the rivalry.