Episode 9. Bayern Munich 4-2 Borussia Dortmund
Bundesliga Matchday 24
March 6, 2021
Allianz Arena, Munich
Lineup: Neuer — Sule, Boateng (Martinez 69), Alaba, Davies — Kimmich, Goretzka — Sane (Hernandez 90+1), Muller (Choupo-Moting 90+1), Coman (Gnabry 66) — Lewandowski
Goalscorers: Lewandowski 26’, 44’(p), 90’, Goretzka 88’/Haaland 2’, 9’
After a successful Club World Cup, Bayern Munich were back in business in the Bundesliga. However, travel fatigue tied them down to a meager 3-3 draw against promoted side Arminia Bielefeld, and a 1-2 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, who the Bavarians had blown away 5-0 in the Hinrunde. Games were soon to come thick and fast, and Bayern had to get back on their feet if they were to continue on their successful run.
Thankfully, a 4-1 away win over Lazio in the Champions League lifted the team’s spirits, and a 5-1 win to Koln shook off any remaining doubts as Bayern got back on track. But of course, next opponents Borussia Dortmund were a different story. Well, technically not, I guess.
Dortmund were having problems of their own, starting the year quite shakily. They had kicked off the Ruckrunde with only one win from their first four games, and were winless in their last two games of the Hinrunde, too. That said, they were also enjoying success in the Champions League, and they were coming into their trip to Munich off the back of two consecutive league wins. Would Bayern be able to dampen their mood?
Bayern’s start to the match was horrible. Just two minutes in, Erling Haaland’s long range effort deflected off Jerome Boateng’s foot and past Manuel Neuer. The game was not even ten minutes old when Haaland scored Dortmund’s second of the night after getting on the end of a swift counterattack and cutback from Thorgan Hazard.
But Bayern were no stranger to comebacks, and the chase was on when Robert Lewandowski scored a simple tap-in after some fancy footwork from Leroy Sane. Bayern took that goal as a turning point and started dominating proceedings, being rewarded just before halftime when Kingsley Coman earned a penalty that Lewandowski converted to level the scores. It was Lewandowski’s 30th league goal of the campaign.
Dortmund ended up losing their star striker Haaland to injury in the second half, but were undeterred as they fought toe to toe with the record champions. Their resistance was broken two minutes from time, however, as Leon Goretzka volleyed home a faulty clearance. Before Dortmund had any chance to react in what little time they had left, Lewandowski completed his hat trick, firing a low shot into the bottom corner after receiving a pass from Alphonso Davies.
Why was this match special?
When a team normally goes 2-0 down, you’ll probably find yourself thinking ‘oh, that’s game over, that team is toast.’ But Bayern were not ones to go down without a fight. They had turned around a two-goal deficit for the second time that season, after their 5-2 win over Mainz in January. But this was extra special in that their opponents were title rivals Dortmund, who are never easy to play against. It showed the fighting spirit that the team had in them, and that they would not take no for an answer even in the direst of situations.
As aforementioned, Bayern had been making comeback after comeback that season, nearly dropping points but salvaging them nonetheless. If their spirit had been any weaker, Bayern would never have ended up as German champions, nor would they have won every single trophy up for grabs. This match was the crowning jewel of Bayern’s comebacks, and it was an immense pleasure to watch them fight for every single point possible. Well, of course it would have been more comfortable if they had just won outright without having to come back from behind all the time. But hey, a win is a win.
On a side note, Hansi Flick ended up winning every single one of the five matches he played against Dortmund as Bayern coach. Even Jupp Heynckes does not have such a record. Scoring 15 times in five games and only conceding six, Flick’s Bayern must have loved playing against Dortmund. It’s one of those little things you’ll miss after Flick’s departure from the club.
Bayern entered the busy phase of the season after their victory, with hard games against hard opponents coming up. Lewandowski’s knee injury in the next international break did nothing to help matters, but to the team’s credit, they did the best they could under the circumstances. Three straight league wins over Werder Bremen, Stuttgart, and RB Leipzig allowed Bayern to take a firm grasp on the title race, and despite a draw against Union Berlin and a defeat to Mainz, Bayern won when it was necessary, and ended up clinching the Meisterschale with two games to spare.
Dortmund, meanwhile, were languishing in fifth following their defeat in Munich, but they turned their season around in spectacular fashion, going on a winning streak that saw them finish third in the Bundesliga and earn direct qualification to the Champions League, not to mention a DFB-Pokal triumph as well. They also helped Bayern along the way by defeating Leipzig and more or less securing Bayern’s title for them.