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Three observations from Bayern Munich’s 5-0 dismantling of Borussia Dortmund

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A return to 2013-esque tactics saw Bayern recreate a 2013-esque performance.

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 06: Serge Gnabry of Bayern Munich celebrates after scoring his team's fourth goal with David Alaba of Bayern Munich during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Borussia Dortmund at Allianz Arena on April 06, 2019 in Munich, Germany.
The (Ruhr)pott was stirred and seasoned by Serge Gnabry and David Alaba, April 6, 2019.
Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

Niko Kovac took a page out of Jupp’s notebook, and it worked like you’d expect

It’s amazing that, despite all the tactical changes and personnel overhauls over the last six years, the best way for Bayern Munich to play remains deceptively simple. A good old 4-2-3-1, two inverted wingers, Thomas Müller behind the striker, supported by a mobile holding midfielder and an intelligent defensive midfielder — that’s all it took to completely obliterate the best Borussia Dortmund team since Jürgen Klopp was manager.

James Rodriguez had an adductor problem that kept it out of the lineup. Losing the Colombian would normally be a huge blow to the team, but this time it seemed like a blessing in disguise. Just as Toni Kroos’ injury paved the way for Muller to play centrally, James’ injury allowed Kovac to put the raumdeuter in his preferred position behind Robert Lewandowski.

The results were just too much for BVB to handle. Kinglsey Coman and Serge Gnabry surged down the flanks, Muller did his thing, and Lewandowski bullied the young Dortmund defense. The scoreline perfectly reflected Bayern’s complete dominance in all aspects of the game. The defense was hardly troubled, and Manuel Neuer didn’t even need to make a save, such was the strength of this classic 2013 setup.

Thiago Alcantara showed Axel Witsel who’s boss

Of course, let’s not forget the midfield. In 2013, it was Bastian Schweinsteiger who dominated the center of the park, while Javi Martinez kept things tight at the back. Today, it’s safe to say that Thiago has finally picked up that mantle.

Facing Favre’s chosen midfield of Axel Witsel, Thomas Delaney, and Mahmoud Dahoud, the Spaniard played all three off the pitch. It was a magnificent display of power from the former Barcelona man, exactly something you’d expect from the midfield general of Bayern Munich. Here are some stats to quantify his performance:

71/81 passes
88% passing success rate
1 assist
6 key passes
3 interceptions

It’s an absolute shame that he was injured in the game at the Signal Iduna Park, he is just such an influential player. From now on, if a BVB fan ever says that Axel Witsel is the best midfielder in the league, please feel free to remind him of this game.

How many times to we have to say it? Thomas Müller is a gem

One assist, three key passes (all from open play, because, unlike Thiago, Muller doesn’t take corners), and a crossbar hit. Thomas Müller is just such a monster when he’s utilized correctly. If you want a more detailed description of his performance, check out our match awards — he was the deserved Meister of the Match.

Hopefully, this game will convince Kovac to drop the Ancelotti impression and use Müller properly. If James Rodriguez needs to be played out of position, then so be it — he will have to adjust. Jupp Heynckes and Pep Guardiola proved how dangerous the team is when Müller plays as the second striker, so why keep trying to reinvent the wheel?

Let’s not mess around any longer. If Robert Lewandowski starts, Thomas Müller should be right there behind him. This is not up for debate.

Miscellaneous observations:

  • Aside from one good pass to Dahoud in the first half, Marco Reus was largely anonymous. His other major contributions consisted of hard tackles on Bayern players, such as the time he rammed into Kimmich’s knee. Reus may cultivate a ‘good guy’ image but he’s not as clean as people think.
  • When Dortmund inevitably sell Jadon Sancho for €200m, the money should go to David Alaba because he had the Englishman in his pocket all game, and he’s under no obligation to give him back.
  • Mats Hummels had the same number of shots as the entire BVB team, he could have had a hat trick if not for some great goalkeeping by Roman Bürki.
  • Bild must have a lot of egg on its face right now. Here’s something they published before the game:

Sure thing, Bild. Sure thing.