Borussia Dortmund lost 1-0 (1-0) in their top-of-the-table clash with FC Bayern Munich. Joshua Kimmich scored the winning goal for the visitors shortly before the halfway point in an intense and hard-fought encounter, although the game could have panned out differently had the hosts capitalised on their positive start.
An offside goal for BVB, a shot that struck the woodwork for Bayern, goal-line clearances from Boateng and Piszczek to spare the blushes of their respective keepers, an outstanding winner for the visitors and a hugely controversial scene during which Boateng handled the ball in the Bayern box – the match between second and first delivered on all its promises. But ultimately it had an unfortunate, though not undeserved, outcome.
Second versus first in the overall table, second versus first in the 2020 table. The best team at home against the strongest team on the road. Dortmund had won every single one of their five Bundesliga home games since the winter break, scoring 19 goals and conceding only one. Bayern, meanwhile, arrived the Strobelallee having won their previous six away games.
Borussia were still without Dan-Axel Zagadou, Marco Reus and Nico Schulz, while Bayern were missing Philippe Coutinho, Niklas Süle and Corentin Tolisso. Head coach Lucien Favre opted to stick with the same XI that had started the 2-0 away victory over VfL Wolfsburg only three days earlier.
Dortmund alternated between pressing from the front and defending deep with a back five, switched at pace in their 3-4-3 system and predominantly threatened down the right. Bayern transitioned between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-1-4-1, with Goretzka advancing up the pitch. Whenever the visitors were building the play, Kimmich would drop back between the centre-backs and the full-backs would get forward.
The match & analysis:
BVB caused Bayern significant problems in the opening 15 minutes. Their first chance to open the scoring came after only 30 seconds when Haaland played a through-ball to Hazard, whose shot struck Davies. Haaland was quickest to pounce on the loose ball and fired a shot through the legs of Neuer, who had come rushing out, only for Boateng to clear off the line. Brandt tested the Bayern custodian again two minutes later.
The Borussia Dortmund game plan seemed to be all about being cautious in the build-up and throwing caution to the wind in the final third. They repeatedly threatened with balls in behind the defence and even found the net 10 minutes in – but Hazard, who had assisted the goal, had been in an offside position and it was correctly disallowed.
There was a Bayern resurgence midway through the first half, with Bürki required to intervene to deny Coman and Goretzka in the 24th and 40th minutes respectively. The Black & Yellows carried less of an attacking threat by this point of a frenetic encounter in which both sides exerted ruthless pressure on the player on the ball. But attempting to get as many players as possible behind the ball took its toll. The Black & Yellows had less control in the final moments of the opening half, and Kimmich opened the scoring with a delightful chip from 17 metres two minutes before the break.
Dortmund had registered more shots (7-6), won more challenges (61 percent) and almost matched their opponents for possession (48-52 percent) by the time the half-time whistle sounded. The players had covered more than 120 kilometres (61.5 km for Dortmund, 60.0 km for Bayern).
In Sancho and Can, who replaced Brandt and Delaney, Favre introduced some fresh – though perhaps not yet in peak condition – legs at the interval. The Black & Yellows began to press early again and got stuck into the challenges, but their opponents from Munich kept up the intensity too and continued to attack the ball-carrier with two or three players. However, they were happy to sit deeper and wait for the chance to counter. While Dahoud's 49th minute shot from 17 metres was comfortably saved by Neuer, the desire to turn the match around was clear. As were the TV replays showing the use of an arm by Boateng in the six-yard box to turn a Haaland shot (which was almost certainly destined for the bottom corner) behind for a corner in the 58th minute. Quite why the video assistant did not encourage referee Stieler to review the incident was heavily discussed after the final whistle.
BVB were dealt a blow in the 72nd minute when Haaland was forced off with injury and replaced by Reyna. With 10 minutes remaining, Favre replaced the excellent Piszczek with Götze and switched to a back four. But there were only two more chances to level the scores, Hazard narrowly missing Can's cross in the 77th minute – though it would have been ruled out for offside anyway – and Dahoud having a shot from 16 metres punched clear by Neuer three minutes later. At the other end, Lewandowski struck the woodwork with a deflected strike seven minutes from time.
Next up for Dortmund is a trip to SC Paderborn on Whit Sunday (18:00 CET). Bayern, meanwhile, take on Fortuna Düsseldorf the evening before.