There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and Arjen Robben… coming up clutch in big games. See? I didn’t make a joke about Robben cutting onto his left foot, even though the joke was right there. Low-hanging fruit.
Location : Allianz Arena
Betting Line : Bayern win 3/5 (Bet365)
Referee : Marco Fritz
STARTING LINE UP
This was basically Bayern’s best starting XI, minus Neuer who was out due to injury. Thomas Mueller is also out due to injury, but it is up for debate whether he would start if everyone is fit. It was an interesting choice to play Alonso for the entire 90 minutes at age 35 only 4 days before a massive match against Real Madrid in the Champions League. Perhaps that is a sign from Ancelotti that Alonso will not start against Real. Hummels also dropped to the bench while Boateng started the match; it seems like rather than Hummels or Boateng, it is Javi Martinez that is the most secure of his spot in the center of defense as of now.
STARTING LINE UP
This was basically the lineup that I expected from Dortmund. The lineup was pretty good in my opinion; it was more the execution that went wrong for them. They really could use Toprak now, but they’ll have to wait until next season… that defense is quite shaky.
Basically from the start, Bayern dominated this match. There is such a huge discrepancy between when Bayern and Dortmund play at the Allianz Arena and when they play at the Westfalenstadion; while Bayern found it so difficult in the away fixture in the Hinrunde, it was easy pickings for Bayern today at the Allianz.
Dortmund didn’t really do too much wrong in their setup. It was more a case of players on Bayern like Javi Martinez, Thiago, and Robben having excellent matches, as well as a case of a lack of energy perhaps due to playing away from home.
Honestly, Dortmund just need reinforcements, especially in midfield. Aubameyang can’t really do much if he doesn’t have anyone setting him up. The absence of Julian Weigl seemed to especially hurt Dortmund; he is their Thiago, their pace-setter and tempo-master. Without him, Dortmund are 10x worse. Honestly, Weigl is already one of the better passers/midfield generals in Europe at this point.
Bayern always looked like they would win this match. Bayern fans should be a bit more optimistic heading into the match against Real Madrid. Thiago is so key to everything that Bayern does; I know I’m pretty biased, but I think he should honestly be in the running for the Ballon d’Or. Potentially controversial opinion: he, in my opinion, is the best midfielder in the world, ahead of Kante at number two.
Robben is going to Robben. He is still so key for Bayern even at his age, helping the team with his incredible ability. What I’m beginning to realize is that a team like Bayern doesn’t need a Guardiola; the talent is already there, so why would you need someone to make the team play incredibly strictly and with a very specific vision?
Coaches like Zidane and Ancelotti are great for top teams as they allow the players that the club has already spent tons of money on to do their thing. Ideally, your manager should be adept both tactically and socially, like Antonio Conte, and Ancelotti too.
Man Of The Match
Has to be Arjen Robben. He had an excellent match, scoring one of his trademark cut-in goals along the way. Hopefully Robben can continue his form against Real on Wednesday and be as clutch as he always is.
Robben has always been good, but I think the turning point in his career was after the 2012 Champions League final where he missed that penalty. Before that, he was decidedly unclutch, having key misses like the 1 on 1 with Casillas in the 2010 World Cup final. After 2012, Robben has had so many clutch goals and moments, most notably that goal against Dortmund. I guess every bad thing has its silver lining.
All eyes at the moment are on the huge match on Wednesday against Real Madrid. Bayern look pretty damn good, but are definitely not impenetrable (see: Hoffenheim match). Bayern has gone out 3 years in a row to Spanish teams in the Champions League, all under Guardiola.
Let’s see if Ancelotti can do what Guardiola never could: knock out a Spanish club. Personally, I’m optomistic.
Dortmund, too, have a big Champions League match against Monaco. Monaco are definitely a much easier opponent than Real Madrid, but make no mistake: they are a very difficult opponent, too. Players like Mbappe can wreak havoc on a mistake-prone Dortmund defense and a fairly weak goalkeeper like Burki. Dortmund will need ultimate focus for that match.
Dortmund, like Bayern, plays the first leg at home, which is not really a good thing. Last round, Dortmund went through after losing the first leg in Benfica. They will need a strong home performance and will look to not concede any away goals.