Man, that really sucked. Borussia Dortmund suffered a very tough setback in the race for a title when they were beaten 3-2 inside the Westfalenstadion against Bayern Munich.
What is it going to take to beat Bayern?
From the eye test, the match looked very even for both sides. Each team had their scoring chances, boneheaded mistakes, and
Not only was it an even match based on the eye test, the stats backed up the balance between the teams:
Yep, Dortmund were nearly perfect on Saturday. Unfortunately, nearly perfect won’t always beat Bayern.
The only thing really missing from Saturday’s performance was lethal finishing in front of goal by Borussia Dortmund. Erling Haaland was notorious for his misses yesterday, enough that one or two of them could have changed the game entirely. Despite his excellent goal to open the match, Marco Reus was also poor in front of goal, while I don’t recall Jadon Sancho taking a single shot on target. It seemed like every shot on target for Dortmund was right at Neuer or required very little effort from him to make the save.
If you’re going to take on Bayern Munich and expect a win, you need to play flawless, game-of-your-life kind of football. And for as good as they were against the best team in the world, they weren’t as perfect as they’d have wanted to be and they suffered because of it. Dortmund haven’t been able to do that over the last couple of years with much consistency, and Niko Kovac isn’t managing that team anymore. Hansi Flick isn’t going to let Bayern play anything less than perfect except for a few times a season, and definitely not against Dortmund.
The defense could have also played better on Saturday. Yes, Burki played absolutely out of his mind for most of the match, and there wasn’t much Dortmund could have done better on either of Bayern’s three goals, but they could have done much better in the lead up to them. Does Bayern level the score if Delaney doesn’t foul Gnabry just before halftime? Does Lewandowski put Bayern ahead if Hummels and Akanji were better positioned for the header or Meunier had closed down ? Does Sane score off the counter if Haaland doesn’t have a poor giveaway above Bayern’s box?
To reiterate, you need to play a completely flawless game to come out on top against Bayern, and Dortmund definitely didn’t do that. The overall performance was among the better performances against Bayern in recent years, so that’s a step in the right direction, but it still wasn’t enough. Can Dortmund improve upon this performance against Bayern again, especially when they travel to Allianz Arena later in the season? I hope so.
Is it time we start talking about a struggling Sancho?
As I stated above, Sancho wasn’t very good in front of goal on Saturday. As a matter of face, he wasn’t very good at all against Bayern. They completely neutralized him; SofaScore measured his performance to a 6.7 rating – the lowest of the attacking players and one of the lowest on the whole squad – with a 79% pass accuracy, one successful dribble out of five attempts, one attempted shot, and just one key pass. He was completely taken out of the game and, while players like Raphael Guerreiro were able to step up and perform in his place, it was a big detriment to the squad to have a normally outstanding player not perform to his level.
And honestly, it’s felt like that all season for Sancho.
Yeah, he played well against Bielefeld and Schalke and the other bad teams on our schedule, but he hasn’t been as overly dominating as he was last season. He’s played well and is scoring high marks in games regularly, but is that because he’s truly playing well or because our team as a whole was winning so regularly? Has he let the summer transfer saga with Manchester United get to his head, distracting him from the matches in front of him with Dortmund?
I don’t know, nor do I want to speculate on how a person is feeling after something like that, but I think he, and the team as a whole, are somewhat suffering from the lack of Achraf Hakimi. When Sancho was on the same side as Hakimi, it was almost unstoppable. With Meunier or Guerreiro or Passlack starting back there, you’re not really seeing that same level of chemistry or game-breaking speed you saw from Hakimi. I had my own criticisms for Hakimi as a player, but he was a very important squad for what Favre wanted to do with his fullbacks... something Meunier failed to do until Favre changed the tactics.
I really don’t know if my points are making any sense, but just from simply watching Sancho this year compared to last it’s pretty obvious that he’s not performing at the same clip. He should be doing much better with Haaland, Reyna, Reus, and any of our other attacking options. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m just not seeing it two months into the season.
Would You Rather Lose a Tough, Winnable Match, or Get Completely Blown Out?
It’s a pretty straight-forward question. Saturday’s match felt like such a gut punch once the final whistle sounded. Don’t get me wrong, a blowout loss is equal parts awful and embarrassing. Getting skunked by Bayern – or any team, for that matter – so many times in recent history has been tough to experience is demoralizing at first, but throughout the match you come to the realization that it’s just not your day.
In a close lose, and one just like Saturday’s match, you have that fleeting feeling of hope that you can pull out a winner and hold on for the massive W. To have that feeling throughout, to build up how its going to feel when they win, and to then have that sensation of massive disappointment and foolishness that you were so stupid for thinking it could actually happen. When was the last time it felt like a complete win when playing Bayern wasn’t a pipe dream, the Tuchel years? Do we have to go all the way back to the Klopp-era?
Let me know what questions you’ve got, or even a few answers to the ones above, following Der Klassiker.