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Five observations from Bayern Munich’s comprehensive 3-1 win in Der Klassiker

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DORTMUND, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 04: Arjen Robben of Bayern Muenchen celebrates after the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Muenchen at Signal Iduna Park on November 4, 2017 in Dortmund, Germany.
Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images

Arjen Robben is still very vital to Bayern Munich’s fortunes ...

The Dutch winger will be 34 years old in January and he is certainly in the twilight of his career but he has been rejuvenated since Jupp Heynckes’ coaching return in October. Robben turned in a Man of the Match performance in Der Klassiker with a perfectly placed first-half strike.

It also turned out to be a record-breaking goal for Robben.

It was also Robben’s 11th goal in 21 matches versus Dortmund, and it came while wearing the captain’s armband, too. In the wake of Carlo Ancelotti’s dismissal, Robben was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Now, only Robben’s play is doing all the leading and talking.

... and so is Robert Lewandowski

It would have been easy to dismiss Lewandowski as not being 100 percent fit after he missed the midweek Champions League fixture at Celtic with a slight injury. It seemed like he couldn’t quite find the range or attempted to dribble through five Dortmund defenders, but leave it to Lewandowski to create his own luck.

Lewandowski was unlucky not add two more goals in the second half as he had a header stunningly saved by Roman Burki and he did not get a foot on David Alaba’s inch-perfect cross that ultimately turned into a long-range goal. Lewandowski is the most dangerous Bayern player by a country kilometer and it showed against Dortmund, who devoted plenty of attention to its former striker.

James-Javi-Thiago trio gelling

James Rodriguez was charged with playmaking responsibility. Thiago Alcantara and Javi Martinez were in the double pivot. The result was a triangle that often swallowed up Dortmund ships, err, players as they attempted to navigate the midfield. On Robben’s opening goal, it was Thiago finding James in the penalty area and he controlled the ball with his chest and tapped a quick pass to Robben for a trademark left-footed finish. Javi, deployed as a ball-magnet destroyer in midfield allowed Thiago to free roam forward and connect with James, et al, and gave Bayern a 4-1-4-1 look at times, which should frighten future opponents at home and in Europe.

#SvenTheWall and #SuleTheGiant

This is not tongue-in-cheek analysis, goalkeeper Sven Ulreich is looking increasingly competent, which is a welcome change from the nervy, shaky and insert-another-adjective-here performances that were a cause for concern viewed through the prism of Manuel Neuer’s long-term absence. Ulreich did not have a moment against Dortmund where he looked out of position. In defense, Niklas Sule was paired with Mats Hummels and had a star-making turn in defense. Sule, who is tall and built like castle, also displayed some chase-down speed versus Dortmund catching Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the 12th minute and preventing a shot attempt with well-timed tackle. Sule’s performance should give Heynckes confidence that he can play in place of either Jerome Boateng or Hummels and Bayern will not miss a beat.