Dortmund surrender top spot in damaging Klassiker defeat

Dortmund surrender top spot in damaging Klassiker defeat

Bayern Munich have returned to the summit of the Bundesliga after a potentially decisive 4-2 Klassiker win over Borussia Dortmund.

A humiliating Gregor Kobel error set the tone for a first half that was tough to watch for the travelling fans at the Allianz Arena.

Thomas Müller grabbed two goals to put Bayern three goals in front at half-time, before Kingsley Coman made it four early in the second half.

BVB restored some dignity late on, thanks to an Emre Can penalty and a well-worked goal by substitute Donyell Malen.

But ultimately Thomas Tuchel’s ten-time champions have sent a statement in the German’s first match in charge, inflicting a first defeat in 2023 upon their rivals.

Two points ahead with eight games remaining, the Bavarian giants will now fancy their chances of winning an 11th straight title in May.

Pre-match discussion

This ‘der Klassiker’ was one of the most highly-anticipated in years.

Both sides came into this game, knowing that the outcome would likely have a significant impact on the destination of the ‘Meisterschale’ trophy come the end of the season.

Borussia Dortmund were unbeaten and had won nine out of 10 Bundesliga matches in 2023 – a spell of form which had seen the club rise to first place for the first time this season.

A summer transfer window in which the Black and Yellows recruited some of German football’s top talent promised to signal the start of a new era at Signal Iduna Park.

Although it had taken them a little while to click and adapt, Edin Terzic is finally reaping the rewards, as his side are still challenging for a domestic double.

With Bayern Munich having won each of the previous 10 Bundesliga titles, it seemed as though that dominance simply couldn’t be broken.

But ‘die Schwarzgelbe’ have arrived and perhaps the most telling factor of this was Niklas Süle’s decision in February last year, to swap Munich for Dortmund on a free transfer.

That showed people that perhaps the tide was starting to change in German football.

Current situation

Back in October when the sides last met, Bayern led by two goals, only for Dortmund to come back and snatch a 2-2 draw in the 95th minute thanks to an Anthony Modeste header – a moment that will live forever in the memories of the Yellow Wall.

With the sides so finely separated at the top of the tree, this was always going to be a big game.

However at the start of the season, fans likely didn’t expect for ‘die Borussen’ to be gunning for glory at this stage.

Whoever was to win would not only gain a lead at the top, but they would also gain great confidence to carry them through the remaining fixtures.

Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich May 2013
This was one of the biggest ‘der Klassiker’ matches since the 2013 UEFA Champions League final

Dortmund had had their fair share of injury concerns prior to the international break, but Terzic almost had a fully fit squad at his disposal.

The likes of Gregor Kobel, Julian Brandt, Karim Adeyemi and Youssoufa Moukoko were ready to make their returns.

With such a strong squad available, this could’ve been the true test of their capabilities in the title race.

Added to that the narrative of the returning Thomas Tuchel, who came in to replace Julian Nagelsmann in the hot seat at the Allianz, a decision met by much confusion among fans of German football.

Not only was the former Chelsea boss taking charge of his first match as Bayern head coach, but this was against the club he managed for two years from 2015-2017, a period of time that saw him lead the club to a DFB-Pokal title.

Could he damage his former employers’ title hopes?

Starting XI’s

Bayern Munich

27. Yann Sommer

5. Benjamin Pavard

2. Dayot Upamecano

4. Matthijs de Ligt

19. Alphonso Davies

6. Joshua Kimmich

8. Leon Goretzka

10. Leroy Sané

25. Thomas Müller (C)

11. Kingsley Coman

13. Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting

Borussia Dortmund

1. Gregor Kobel

17. Marius Wolf

25. Niklas Süle

4. Nico Schlotterbeck

26. Julian Ryerson

19. Julian Brandt

22. Jude Bellingham

23. Emre Can

13. Raphael Guerreiro

11. Marco Reus (C)

9. Sébastien Haller

Story of the match

All was on the line in this ‘Klassiker’ contest.

In the early stages the first chance would go Dortmund’s way, when some nice buildup play saw the latest Germany international Marius Wolf find captain Marco Reus in the box.

He took his time before firing an effort goal-bound, only for Matthijs de Ligt to get across really well to block the shot.

But with 13 minutes played, the deadlock was broken.

Dayot Upamecano sent a long ball in behind, looking for Leroy Sané; Gregor Kobel was alert to come off his line but the nerves of the occasion must have affected the Swiss goalkeeper, who swiped at the ball, only to skew it off his boot and into the empty goal behind him.

Bayern took the lead and it was BVB’s own doing – something you cannot afford to do in a title race and certainly not an ideal start for Dortmund.

Just five minutes later Joshua Kimmich sent in a corner which was met by the head of de Ligt and sent goal-bound.

Thomas Müller arrived at the far post to tap in and double the hosts’ advantage.

A further five minutes later Müller had another; Sané dispossessed Julian Ryerson on the right hand side before driving infield.

The former Manchester City and Schalke man took aim from range, just as he did in the reverse fixture, but Kobel could only parry it to Müller for yet another simple finish.

Mistakes were undoing the visitors, and despite having a few decent attempts, things just weren’t coming off for them.

Second half

To this point, Thomas Tuchel’s side hadn’t even needed to get out of first gear, in truth.

But just minutes into the second period of play, they would add a fourth.

Kingsley Coman switched the play excellently to find Sané on the opposite flank.

The 27-year-old cut inside again before expertly threading the ball back to the far post where Coman couldn’t miss.

If it wasn’t clear already, Dortmund were beaten.

But still they went in search of a response to restore some pride and give the travelling fans among the 75,000 in attendance in Munich something to cheer for.

With 72 minutes on the clock, Raphael Guerreiro found Jude Bellingham in the box, who was clipped by Serge Gnabry.

Referee Marco Fritz pointed to the spot, where Emre Can blasted the ball past Yann Sommer for a consolation goal.

Then in the final minute of regular time, BVB made the scoreline a little more respectable with a second goal.

Salih Özcan played a ball in behind for fellow substitute Donyell Malen, who had been dangerous since his introduction from the bench.

The Dutchman cut inside before playing a lovely one-two with Guerreiro and caressing the ball into the far bottom corner.

After four minutes of stoppage time the referee sounded his whistle for full-time on what was a very avoidable defeat for Borussia Dortmund.


Undoubtedly this match was a huge occasion.

It seemed like an occasion for which Borussia Dortmund simply didn’t quite turn up.

Overall it wasn’t an awful performance but it was a shadow of the team we have seen in this calendar year so far.

And of the four goals conceded, it could be argued that three of them could have been avoided.

The fourth goal was really well-worked and Bayern played well.

However, the first was obviously a glaring error from Kobel, Müller could’ve been marked much tighter for the second, and Ryerson should’ve been more alert in possession for the third goal.

It just seems as though the mental block which has seen BVB be so inferior to Bayern over the past decade was there again, despite the team’s recent upturn in fortunes.

If that was the case, then hopes are not high for their title chances.

Tuchel is a top manager, Bayern have breathing room now and of course, naturally have a stronger squad.

Both sides have similar run-ins but it will take a real show of character for Dortmund to finally get their hands back on the ‘Meisterschale’.

Eight games remain, it isn’t done just yet.

Bundesliga Table

    1. Bayern Munich – 55 points
    2. Borussia Dortmund – 53 points
    3. Union Berlin – 51 points
    4. Freiburg – 47 points
    5. RB Leipzig – 45 points
    6. Eintracht Frankfurt – 41 points

(Featured image: Borussia Dortmund)