The return of Arjen Robben wasn't enough to rejuvenate FC Bayern's offense today, as Borussia Dortmund pulled out a 1-0 victory. The two clubs went into the half in a scoreless tie, with both having a few good plays but Bayern probably feeling they had the better of it. Mario Götze's second half goal provided the only scoring, and Bayern's late offensive surge failed to produce anything.
The first thing you notice when watching this game is that we really miss Schweinsteiger. Getting Robben back helped, both because we need his explosiveness on the wing and because it allowed us to use Kroos in the midfield. But Kroos, while he has a wide skill set and can do a lot of things well, can't seize control of a match the way Bastian can. And our front four (especially Gomez) gets in the habit of waiting around for the midfield to serve them the ball, rather than being able to create on their own. In the absence of Bastian, this problem gets magnified.
Götze's goal was somewhat unlucky for Bayern - a weird straight-up-in-the-air bounce that Boateng couldn't find in time:
A tough play for Boateng to make, but when you're the last line of defense, you need to be able to hone in on that ball right away and not let the forward get a clean swipe at it. A good touch play from Götze, though.
In addition to the goal, both clubs had one huge save from the 'keeper. For Bayern, it was Neuer's save of the Kagawa chip (can't find video of that yet - maybe in a bit). A great play by Neuer. A lot of 'keepers will go to the ground there and try to take away the low, sliding shot - which is why a chip from Kagawa would generally be a good play. But Neuer kept his feet and managed to spring up to smash it away just in time.
Weidey's good save came on a Ribery shot a few minutes after the Dortmund goal. Bayern had a 3-on-2 break, Ribery decided to take a shot, and blasted a hard liner at the goal. Unfortunately, it hit the 'keeper right in the legs and bounced away. Not as goo as Neuer's save, but still required good patience to keep his position and give Ribery nowhere to go with it.
Some other thoughts:
- Olic is showing his trademark high energy, but his touch has a long way to go. He got surrounded by 3 defenders and stripped late in the 2nd half, when if he's managed to slip a pass through, we might have had a free forward with a chance to shoot.
- A few questionable calls, including the late foul when someone on Dortmund (Leitzer?) clearly faked getting hit in the belly. But, really, we didn't do enough to deserve a win, and Gomez (and, to a certain extent, the other forwards) are going to have to slide back and help the midfield, rather than camping out in the attacking third and waiting for the ball.
- Dortmund is the only team in the Bundi that has the kind of depth that Bayern does. To lose Subotic and still be able to play that well defensively is a credit to them. Honestly, I think Santana would be the best defender on 90% of teams in the world. And he's not even starting for BVB when everyone is healthy.
- A pretty contentious game. No friendly handshakes when it was over, and Götze seemed really happy to celebrate right in the Bayern's fans faces.
Anyway, always frustrating to lose a big game, but we're still on top of the table. Honestly, we probably needed a gut-check game (though a draw would have done fine and left me less angry). We're not going to run away with the title and win it by 20 points. And if we don't figure out a way to generate offense and feed the forwards, we might not win it at all. Thanks for reading.