FC Bayern Munich fought to a 1-0 win today in the DFB Pokal. With the victory, Bayern took a big step towards silverware, and also picked up the first win against Borussia Dortmund in a competition match in over 2 years.
Before the match, the news leaked out that star Dortmund CB Mats Hummels would miss the action with a virus. While Dortmund has capable back-ups and is not reliant on one man, it was still a blow: Hummels is an excellent defender, and Bayern's forwards had been in great form. Whether or not the absence of Hummels was the reason, Bayern seized control of the match from the early going. With a few brief exceptions, Bayern dominated possession in the first half, with Arjen Robben (playing down the left flank, rather than the right) repeatedly terrorizing the Dortmund defense.
In fact, considering he had a pair of great chances in the first 35 minutes, there almost might have been a slight "why can't Robben finish" mood at the half, were it not for his late goal on a wicked high-corner strike:
With that, the crowd was able to relax. If Bayern had controlled the entire first half but failed to score, there would have been a sense that Dortmund was waiting in the wings to steal it late. But with Bayern up 1-0, it was now incumbent on BVB to try to chase the match and create some chances. Even so, they didn't do that much in the early 2d half, except for a good chance for Ilkay Gündogan and a bunch or rolling around trying to draw fouls. The introduction of Kuba for Großkreutz helped Dortmund a bit; Großkreutz is usually out there just to hassle Ribery, Kroos, and Robben. But with Robben on the far side and Bayern already holding the lead, it wasn't really the KG style of game (in fact, I'm surprised they didn't take him out sooner).
Although Dortmund had a little more energy, it was still Bayern creating more chances to score. Both van Buyten and Dante had clean chances, and Mandzukic had a great opportunity late, with Dortmund GK Roman Weidenfeller looking alert in the net. In fact, counting a pair of saves on Robben in the first half and the two great short-range stops in the second, I think Weidenfeller kept this from being a more emphatic Bayern win. As it was, with the exception of a handful of nervy moments, you could argue that a 2-0 or even 3-0 win for Bayern was more deserved.
But, at the end of the day, that matters little. Bayern moves on to the semis of the DFB Pokal with a vital win over our recent tormentors. I believe the draw for the Halbfinale is this Sunday, with the matches themselves taking place the 16th and 17th of March. Needless to say, we'll be covering the draw and all matches, so stay tuned.
Some other thoughts:
- I'll have to look at the replay, but I thought the yellow on Kroos in the 2d half was very harsh. And, in general, BVB seemed to be doing anything they could to try to draw fouls, even if it meant giving up a chance at the net. But, again, I'll take a look in slow motion later and see.
- For much of the match, it almost seemed like Dortmund were trying to go with an attacking trident (with Reus and Goetze on either side of Lewandowski), rather than use Lewandowski as the clear target man. This seemed to backfire, because Reus works better if he can lay back for a bit, then make blazing runs through the area or across empty space. Although his dribbling is good, he never seems like a big threat to score while trying to beat two guys off the dribble.
- For Bayern, it was a great team effort, but I think Dante, Schweinsteiger, and Robben (aside from a few blown chances early in the first) stood out the most. But Kroos - aside failing to get his foot on a ball in front of an empty net - did a few things very well, and Lahm was class, as always.
Back with more later. Feels good to get a win over BVB, but I almost feel like they're below our level at this particular moment. Anyway, thanks for reading.