Bayern Munich retain their five point lead over Borussia Dortmund and the rest of the Bundesliga, as the two sides held each other scoreless in today's Klassiker.
It was a game of the break-aways at Signal-Iduna-Park, as both teams pressed hard and went close on the counter, making defensive efforts the only real highlights of the game. On the Bayern side, the Bavarians were denied twice by the goalkeeping heroics of Dortmund keeper Roman Burki as he spread himself well in front of an on-rushing Douglas Costa in the first-half, and then made a super-human-reflex save on a Arturo Vidal volley in the second. It wasn't all Dortmund's solid defending that kept the game 0-0 though , as Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben were both guilty of squandering good chances.
Dortmund saw themselves denied more than once by the young Joshua Kimmich, who had a great game, making timely challenges on both Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when they were sent through. Just like Bayern, they too were guilty of failing to capitalize on big chances; Adrian Ramos's comedically skewed header in the second-half comes to mind.
In terms of tactics, Thomas Tuchel fielded a very versatile 4-3-3 formation that at times shifted to a 3-4-3 when in prolonged possession and to a back five, taking a page from both Juventus who drew Bayern 2-2, and Mainz, who upset Bayern 2-1 earlier this week. Pep Guardiola kept his normal 4-1-4-1 shape, trying to boss possession, which by the end of the game he would succeed in, with Bayern having overall 63% possession.
The real question this game raises is whether or not Dortmund have blown their chances at the title. This was an oppurtunity for Tuchel's men to close the gap between first and second to a mere two points, but now they have to rely on their own consistency and the hope that Bayern will drop points with nine games remaining.
Bayern will be pleased they kept their five point lead, but that's about all they should be happy about, besides maybe Kimmich, but the way Pep was talking to him I couldn't say they are. Dortmund on the other hand, have to look at the bright side; they kept a clean sheet against one of Europe's most free-scoring teams, and from the way Bayern have been dropping points since the new year, something tells me that with race will come down to the wire.
Xabi Alonso felt the pace of the game in his legs by the end of 90 minutes, and had to subbed off in the contextual irony of injury-time. It is unclear how serious the injury is and how long he'll be out, but it might prove to be a costly absence in a team already rife with them. For Dortmund, well, Dortmund just made their journey to the title that much harder.