No goals in German “classico” but a valuable ‘test’: Bayern Munich

Berlin, March 6 (IANS) After such an outstanding football game like the German “classico” between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich (0-0) in the Bundesliga, some questions may have been answered and some others are still burning hot on the agenda of the Bavarians.

The Bavarians defended their five-point lead in the Bundesliga and they came through a crunch situation. Both pieces of news are good news. However at the same time they did not find answers to fundamental questions like the one of how to beat top teams with strong defences. The very same problem will be encountered in ten days against Juventus Turin, reports Xinhua.

“We can live with a draw like that but I would’ve been happier if we’d scored. We were the better team,” said Bayern Munich striker Thomas Mueller.

“This game showed us that we have to stay concentrated right up until the end. If we don’t we could quite possibly not achieve our goals.”

Looking at the Juventus game, the German “classico” was not only a game affecting the German Championship, but at the same time was a serious test for Bayern in respect of the second leg against the Italian champions (2-2 first leg) in the round of the last 16 of the Champions League on March 16.

Like Mueller, not many of Bayern’s squad were happy about the 0-0 draw in Dortmund, especially as they had missed many gilt-edged chances, but again the game was a test of great value ahead of the upcoming challenge as second-placed Borussia Dortmund was a kind of “doppelganger” for Juventus.

Dortmund changed their three-man defence, when in possession, into a 5-4-1 system when Bayern had the ball. It is a similar concept to that of Juventus and is accompanied by fast counter attacks. Douglas Costa in particular came in for close attention from right-back Lukasz Piszczek and midfielder Erik Durm before the striker was replaced by Franck Ribery.

Bayern tried to stop Dortmund’s strong offense, primarily Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but also Marco Reus and Henrik Mkhitaryan, with Arturo Vidal and Xabi Alonso as a “double six” midfield in front of a four-man defence. It did not always work well as Alonso sometimes dropped back too far to strengthen the defence while Vidal operated further up field. Meaning: A dangerous gap opened up in Bayern’s midfield.

Not only former Bayern (1998-2004/2007-2008) and Dortmund (1991-1997) coach Ottmar Hitzfeld predicted the game in Dortmund would to be the most important one for Bayern in the last months of head coach Pep Guardiola. “If Bayern had lost this game, it would have had an enormous effect on the Champions League duel against Juventus,” said Hitzfeld.

Meaning: Losing to Dortmund would make it all the more likely that Guardiola will not be able to finish off on a high note at the end of this season and his three year reign as he will join Manchester City next summer.

Recently Guardiola announced his main goal this season is to win the Champions League and not just the German title.

Hitzfeld recently assumed that “Bayern showed some weak moments in the defence despite an extremely high percentage of possession. They were not concentrated enough in the man-on-man situations near their own box. At the same time they sometimes squander goal-scoring chances. That fact, I am sure, will be closely watched by Juventus.”

And against Juventus, Bayern will have to deal with a similar tactical situation and mental pressure.

The lessons of the “Juventus” test for Bayern in Dortmund has to be: Stay fully-focussed over 90 minutes and use every single chance you get to score.

In the first match between the two top German clubs, Bayern managed to score five times (5-1). But back in October 2015, Dortmund were nowhere near the form in which they could pose as the “doppelganger” of a team like Juventus. This time Dortmund were just the right challenge for Bayern in advance of the Juventus re-match.

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