A Quick Start
It is matchday 24 and Bayern Munich sits in second place. RB Leipzig defeated SC Freiburg 3-0 to push their young team into the first position on the table, the onus is on Borussia Dortmund to beat the Bavarians and keep them down. It was set up as the game of the two strikers. Robert Lewandowski, the best pure 9 in the world and the man looking to usurp that title in a few years, Erling Haaland.
The Dortmund striker would open the show. Haaland brought down a high ball from Thomas Meunier before Thomas Delaney set it up nicely for the Norwegian striker who took a couple of touches before firing into Manuel Neuer’s left side. The ball went in via a deflection off Jerome Boateng. Two minutes in, the first short of the game, and Borussia Dortmund were ahead. It was the fastest goal in Der Klassiker since 2006. In the 9th minute, Thorgan Hazard would set up Haaland’s second to take him to 19 goals from 19 starts in the current Bundesliga campaign.
It is the Hope That Kills
Erdin Terzic was jumping and screaming on the sidelines when that goal went in. Like many Bundesliga enthusiasts, there was hope – however fleeting – that this would be it. They could add one or two more before the break and put a distance between them and their archrivals. For 8 years now, we have been nursing that hope. Minutes later, Thomas Meunier found himself in acres of space down the right and he should have squared that ball and put the game to bed.
He made the wrong decision, and right then, at that moment, if you have been following the Bundesliga, you know the feeling, it is the feeling of that hope dissipating. When you want to hurt this Bayern side, you don’t miss golden opportunities like that. Leroy Sane had been having a torrid time, misplacing passes here and there, failing to read the game, etc, but when he did find the space, he made it count.
One minute after Meunier botched that chance, Bayern scored. Midfield maestro Joshua Kimmich fizzed a ball out wide to Sane and Nico Schulz showed exactly why every call-up he gets is an abomination and a slap in the face of every German football fan. He was not in a good position to stop the first pass or limit Sane’s options. In the split second it took him to readjust, Sane had put in a cross. Who else but Lewandowski at the back post to finish it off? It was only a matter of time for Bayern.
Dortmund conceded possession to Bayern, and in doing so, the entire game. Mahmoud Dahoud is a technically gifted midfielder but his athletic qualities are lacking, his reading of the defensive side of the game can still be a bit naive and those flaws cost him. A minute before half-time, he stuck out his left leg to stop Kingsley Coman who had already shifted the ball to an awkward position for a shot but the leg was out. He fell and the penalty was given. Lewandowski scored the penalty and thus our hope was killed before the first-half was even over.
Borussia Dortmund is the 12th side to take the lead against Bayern this season but they were the first to take a 2-0 lead and leave empty-handed. It was the same story from their meeting at the Westfalenstadion back in November. Bayern have proven to be the kings of comebacks but Dortmund’s small mentality was still shocking to witness
A History of Pain, All We Know is Nothing But Pain
When Erling Haaland limped off before the hour mark, you got the sense that the tie was only waiting for Bayern Munich to wrap it up. It is the kind of shocking mentality we have come to expect from Dortmund through the years. No fight, no guts. It is no surprise that most Bundesliga fans are now pinning their hopes on Leipzig to end Bayern’s 8-year dominance.
To show you an example of this shocking mentality. When Captain Marco Reus left the pitch in a substitution, the captain’s armband was given to Mats Hummels. Anyone but Mats Hummels for fuck’s sake. Just about anyone but the guy who left Dortmund to join Bayern and solidify them for years before coming back to Dortmund when the Bavarians deemed him surplus to requirements. Really anyone but that fucking guy. Bayern outpassed, outshot, outplayed, and outclassed Dortmund to take their place at the summit of the Bundesliga table.
This is a Bayern side that has not been their usual selves in recent games losing to Eintracht Frankfurt and drawing with Arminia Bielefeld before defeating Koln 5-1. Still, Dortmund only looked superior for the first 15 minutes.
The Inevitable End
Surprisingly, Dortmund held on until the 88th minute before former Schalke man Leon Goretzka put Bayern ahead. Robert Lewandowski wanted his hat-trick and in the dying minutes of the game, he collected a pass from Alphonso Davies left by Leroy Sane. He thought about shifting it wide then darting into the box to get on the end of the cross but he went for it. Good placement of the shot and Marwin Hitz was beaten, Dortmund was beaten. This takes Lewandowski’s tally to 16 goals and 1 assist in 23 appearances since leaving Dortmund to join Bayern years ago. That is almost a goal contribution every game he faces them in. 31 goals in 22 starts in the Bundesliga as he guns for Gerd Muller’s record of 40.
For Dortmund, it was another tale of inferiority against the big bullies of the Bundesliga. It is always fun to root for the underdog but Dortmund can’t seem to get their head out of this headlock. Leipzig is now the only side that can realistically catch Bayern with third-placed Wolfsburg 10 points back. Dortmund are 16 points off the pace and may not even seal Champions League qualification. They are 6th on the table and below Europa League qualification. It is the hope that kills. You nurture it and keep it small but its fate is dashed when the big bullies are in town.
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