Supreme Leadership From Kimmich
His winning goal notwithstanding, Joshua Kimmich’s role in Bayern’s win over arch-rivals Dortmund on Tuesday night cannot be overstated.
So consistently good has Kimmich been that the loss of Philip Lahm through retirement has barely been noticed. Lahm, who Pep Guardiola once described as “one of the most fantastic players… and one of the most intelligent”, was used in a variety of positions by Guardiola and other managers, but in Kimmich Bayern have a natural replacement for the man they thought could not be replaced.
He is Bayern’s best fullback and defensive midfielder, able to attack and defend, create and destroy, with both tenacity and technique. Kimmich called the win “brutally important” after the game, and being only 25 years of age, will be brutally important himself for Bayern’s ambitions over the next decade.
13.73 - Joshua #Kimmich has run 13.73 kilometers in today's game against #BVB, setting a new record for a @FCBayernEN player since 2013-14, when tracking data were first measured. Powerhouse. #BVBFCB pic.twitter.com/yG58ayPdWd— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) May 26, 2020
More Trophies Hoarded At The Allianz?
Bayern being favourites to win the Bundesliga has been an inexorable truth since pre-season, even if there was a brief window earlier in the campaign when Borussia Monchengladbach and RB Leipzig led the way.
Having won 14 of their last 15 Bundesliga games (the only blip being a 0-0 draw with Leipzig), they have scored 46 goals over that period, averaging over 3 goals a game. They have also dismantled Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea with nonchalant ease this season (as well as dispatching Dortmund 4-0 in the previous Klassiker), and Bundesliga aspirations aside, they should be everyone’s top pick for the winners of the Champions League when it resumes.
Silver Medal No Silver Lining for Dortmund
The last six Klassiker meetings in the Bundesliga have now led to an aggregate score of Bayern 21-5 Dortmund. Bayern have won 5 of them, with Dortmund’s sole win coming in late 2018 courtesy of a Paco Alcacer winner near the end of a 3-2 game.
It seems a lifetime ago now that Jurgen Klopp was leading Dortmund to the Bundesliga title, and while it is true that Bayern have poached top players from Dortmund, among the cohort that were plucked from BVB, only Robert Lewandowski remains at the Allianz, with the likes of Mats Hummels and Mario Gotze returning to Dortmund in relatively short order, having contributed little to Bayern’s dominance anyway.
Dortmund have also flexed their own muscle, able to grab Julian Brandt, Thorgan Hazard, Thomas Delaney, Mahmoud Dahoud, Nico Schulz and Roman Bürki from other domestic rivals in recent seasons. They are not exactly struggling for cash either, with the recent sales of Christian Pulisic and Ousmane Dembele filling their coffers.
Dortmund’s investments have been largely positive, especially when looking at how Jadon Sancho and Erling Braut Haaland have performed, but they still look to be an entire tier below Bayern in terms of competitiveness.
Run, Davies, Run
There was a moment in the first half when Erling Haaland seemed certain to score, losing David Alaba and shaping to shoot, before 19-year old Alphonso Davies appeared almost out of nowhere to make a vital challenge.
The Canadian has already scored 5 goals for his national side, and was the top scorer at the 2017 Gold Cup but has since emerged as one of Bayern’s most potent weapons in a side brimming with talent.
Some have doubted his actual defensive ability, but with pace like his (clocked at over 35 km/h against Dortmund) he has the tools to make up for what he lacks in tactical acumen, which will only improve with experience. Thomas Muller called him the club’s “Road Runner”, and while Davies himself has admitted he uses his pace to recover from being caught out of position, it is not a bad thing to have at all, and Bayern have benefited greatly.
Lacking Fan Service
22 Bundesliga games have been played since the resumption of professional football in Germany, but among these ties only 3 games have ended with a home win.
Dortmund and Bayern have each won comfortably at home, as have Hertha Berlin against Union Berlin, but many other sides that would have expected to edge out their rivals with the help of the crowd have seen that advantage evaporate due to restrictions put in place.
The concepts of home and away form may yet be rendered moot for the rest of the season, if this pattern continues, and even the result of Der Klassiker went against recent history, with Dortmund having only lost one of the four home meetings against Bayern before playing at an empty Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday night.
It will be interesting to see how this affects the final standings as the Bundesliga draws to a close, with Leipzig, Gladbach, and Leverkusen eager to close the gap on Dortmund.