A classic match? No more. FC Bayern and Borussia Dortmund are not rivals in the Bundesliga and Saturday’s 6:0 win showed it. On the other hand, bitching about the Bavarians’ domination in Germany is the wrong kind of finger-pointing.
Not a rivalry
There are plenty of talented players in the squad at Borussia Dortmund but the bees showed no structure or direction on the pitch, save for five minutes of decent defending in the first half.
What strikes me is that there seems to be no one to organise the troops during a match, at least when they face elite opposition such as FC Bayern.
In addition, BVB’s defensive play is lacking. The Bavarians had no problem undoing Dortmund’s central midfield and back line with a bit of creativity, runs in open spaces and sometimes even simple crosses.
The spaces that the bees left in the middle of the pitch were gifts from the football gods. The Reds would have had to be tied up not to take advantage of those. The structure I saw in the visitors’ play in the opening minutes evaporated as soon as it was challenged.
Borussia Dortmund are a shadow of their former selves. At this point in time, a clash between Bayern and BVB is not a classic or a rivalry.
Inequality not a German problem
It will take no time for Bayern haters to say that there is no competition in the Bundesliga because the Bavarians have a clear lead and because they destroy the opposition.
Wait a second.
I had a look at the tables of other leagues at halftime. A total of 13 points separated Manchester City from Manchester United in second place in the English Premier League. (Update: now 16). Paris Saint-Germain enjoyed an even bigger lead, 17 points, over AS Monaco in Ligue 1. In La Liga, FC Barcelona enjoyed an 11-point advantage over Atlético de Madrid.
In major leagues, only Serie A was very tight, with Juventus leading Napoli by two points.
Is it only about Bayern destroying the competition in Germany? Hell no. There is a clear separation between the European elite and their opposition at league level. In each of them, money and sporting traditions contribute to a massive gap at different levels.
If anything, Bayern currently benefit from stellar management in the last decade and from strong commercialisation skills. Foreign billionaires did not come in to use a club as an investment playtoy. Pointing the finger only at FCB for inequality in one of the leagues is making the debate far too simple.
Offside or not?
Dear referees, we have a problem. Depending on the replay that you saw, the first Bayern goal may or may not have been offside.
The second time that FCB put the ball in the back of the net, the ref made a quick call to cancel the goal, leaving almost everyone confused as to why and how.
Football’s professionalism in terms of decision-making needs to level up. Having grown in North America, I am only too familiar with the NFL, which has a well-established replay system. Refs stop the play, review it, fire up a microphone and explain the ruling. Everyone understands everything clearly.
It would offend many football fans to interrupt the play in the same fashion, but the NFL’s mature system is an example to follow because it works. Use VAR, tweak it and get it right. Hell, if you need to make a few calls to the United States to understand how replays make the game fair, make them.
James-Javi a potent combination
James Rodriguez and Javi Martínez have hit their stride as a double-six combination, haven’t they?
The Colombian excels at creative duties and pitch generalship while the Spaniard takes care of the defensive work and threatens to attack every now and then.
James being a beast in central midfield may be the biggest surprise of the season at Bayern. Many fans, including myself, believed that he could play well. That he would do so from a “six” position instead of a 10 shows us what Jupp Heynckes can do with talent at his disposal.
What shall we call them? Jaja?