Wednesday’s Der Klassiker between Dortmund and reigning champions Bayern Munich at Signal Iduna Park was never going to be the same without the Yellow Wall and the other usual occupants of the Westfalenstadion.
However, even played behind closed doors the game was vital in the race for the Bundesliga title. In the end, Bayern emerged as 1-0 winners to move seven points clear of BVB. At this point in the campaign, it seems an unsurmountable gap.
Dortmund a good team, but not a great one
Lucian Favre’s team have played some of the best football in European football over the last few seasons. They have exciting young attacking players like Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho and Julian Brandt, so are always going to produce good forward play.
However, Dortmund are a good team, but not a great one. They will swat aside most teams in the league, but then they have a habit of coming unstuck against some of the weaker opposition in the Bundesliga. Then there is the fact that they seem to shrink when coming up against the league’s dominant force Bayern Munich.
In truth, BVB are the second-best team in Germany. On their day, some may argue they are a better team to watch than the Bavarians. They lack the killer instinct to be champions.
Bayern win its simple
While most neutrals hoped that Dortmund would overcome their seemingly psychological fear of Bayern, BVB simply wilt when it mattered. They started the game well, but Bayern did what good teams do, absorbed the pressure, and hit with a sucker punch through an audacious chipped effort from Joshua Kimmich.
Bayern knew they could afford to sit back and wait patiently. A draw would not have been a terrible result for Hansi Flick’s side. However, there is a confidence and mental strength about Bayern that makes them have the belief that they will score and win against whoever the face.
In the second half, Dortmund struggled to find their top gear. A half-fit Jadon Sancho came off the bench, while they also lost star striker Erling Haaland through injury half-way through the second period. BVB was up against it already with a full-strength squad. Without two of their best players at full power, they failed to find the attacking strength to get back into the game.
Bayern could have scored more goals, as Robert Lewandowski struck a post and Roman Burki pulled off a good save too.
Opposition struggle to match Bayern
Earlier in the season, the likes of RB Leipzig and Monchengladbach were looking like real title challengers. However, both teams fall into the Dortmund category of nearly-team in the recent history of the Bundesliga.
Their form fell off and now they are seemingly only in the battle for the Champions League spots. Maybe that is the best either team can achieve in the near future.
Leipzig look set to lose star striker Timo Werner this summer. Head coach Julian Nagelsmann is constantly linked with higher profile jobs. Before Hansi Flick revitalised Bayern, the rookie coach was talked about as the next boss in Bavaria.
For Monchengladbach, a top-four challenge is probably their level under the highly-rated Marco Rose. Dortmund as always seems the most likely to challenge the reigning champions. However, that has not gone too well for BVB in recent years.
Failure to win the Bundesliga this season could see head coach Lucien Favre leave this summer. The problem for BVB is that any boss that comes in will struggle to guide the team to the German title because of Bayern Munich.
The Bavarians look set to seal their eighth straight Bundesliga title this season. It is difficult to see any team stopping that run, as this season looked to be an opportunity for their rivals to end that record. However, none have been good enough to take advantage and it seems none will be good enough in the coming seasons to end Bayern’s Bundesliga dominance.
Is any team in the Bundesliga capable of challenging Bayern’s dominance in the near future?