After a dramatic international break which saw Julian Nagelsmann – a man the Bavarians paid €25m for – sacked after a year in the job and replaced immediately by Thomas Tuchel, Bayern Munich were looking to return with a bang against historic rivals Borussia Dortmund.
FCB: Sommer; Davies, De Ligt, Upamecano, Pavard; Goretzka, Kimmich; Coman, Muller, Sane; Choupo-Moting
BVB: Kobel; Ryerson, Schlotterbeck, Sule, Wolf; Reus, Guerreiro, Can, Bellingham, Brandt; Haller
The build up to the game was intriguing, as many were left wondering how Tuchel would set up his side. After preferring a back three at Chelsea, would the Champions League-winning boss set up in the same formation as Nagelsmann had done, or would he switch it up to kickstart a new era for Bayern?
Tuchel opted for the latter, setting up his side as a 4-2-3-1 on paper – however this wouldn’t remain constant as during the build up, Bayern used Joshua Kimmich as the main facilitator in a 2-3 shape with Davies and Pavard inverting more than they did previously. This allowed Muller and Goretzka to be either side of talisman Choupo-Moting with Sane and Coman holding the width – quite a contrast to their set up two weeks ago when they lost to Leverkusen 2-1. Sane was playing quite centrally in that game.
Despite this, it was Dortmund that had the larger share of possession in the first 10 minutes where a good sequence from Wolf and Reus saw a shot blocked superbly by De Ligt. In a game that promises goals – the previous 107 Klassikers have produced a mammoth 346 goals – the first was a gift for Bayern as Gregor Kobel failed to deal with a long ball from Dayot Upamecano in the 13th minute, with the ‘keeper scuffing his clearance and sending the ball rolling into his own net. The Swiss ‘keeper could only watch in horror five minutes later though, as De Ligt’s towering header from a corner found Thomas Muller at the back post – and the German powered it over the line.
Dortmund seemed well off it, as in the 23rd minute Bayern tripled their lead. Leroy Sane’s effort from distance was parried right into the path of Thomas Muller, who doubled his tally and put the champions firmly in the driving seat. Despite the limited time the squad has had with Tuchel, Bayern seemed to have responded to his methods well as they looked to attack fast and often on the counter – while not engaging in a high press which they would have done under the previous regime.
Just five minutes into the second half, Bayern scored another as Kingsley Coman slid in to finish their fourth after Sane played him through on goal. In typical fashion, the Bavarians piled on the pressure as Choupo-Moting’s brilliant aerobatic effort was ruled out for offside. Kobel was then forced into action, making a series of saves to deny Coman and Choupo-Moting.
Dortmund did end up pulling one back from the spot in the 78th minute as newly introduced Gnabry tripped Bellingham inside the area, resulting in Emre Can blasting it in from the spot. In the 85th minute Gnabry scored an audacious goal, lobbing the keeper from 25 yards out on the volley – only for it to be ruled out yet again, as the linesman raised his flag once more to spare Dortmund’s blushes. Donyell Malen’s effort in the 90th minute trickled into the Bayern net, nabbing a second goal for Dortmund, but it was nothing more than a mere consolation.
Despite Dortmund’s late double, Bayern never seemed uncomfortable at any point in the game and walked their way to three points – reclaiming the top spot of the Bundesliga table in the process.
Dortmund will be looking to bounce back next week as they host 3rd place Union Berlin, who defeated VfB Stuttgart 3-0 earlier on Saturday.
It was all smiles for Thomas Tuchel though – the former Chelsea manager could not have written a better story for his Bayern debut even if he tried. He had picked up all three points in a high-stakes Klassiker match against a Dortmund side that hasn’t lost a league game since the new year – and coincidentally a team that he used to manage himself. It was light work for the German and the champions, as they steamrolled their bitter rivals in a 4-2 win. All eyes will be on Bayern and their next few fixtures, as they have a double header against Freiburg in the DFB-Pokal and the Bundesliga before they travel to the Etihad for a superstar showdown against the Citizens.