Created on 12-04-2014 at 20:19 PM
Off-key Bayern patently had other things on their minds on Saturday as the champions lost in the Bundesliga for the second time on the bounce in a home defeat to chief domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund. The fixture, sandwiched for both teams between the Champions League quarter-finals and the midweek DFB Cup semi-finals, was the usual absorbing tactical contest for the first hour, but BVB showed a ruthless streak and converted their chances to wrap up the points.
The 71,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan hand the visitors a 20th-minute lead with their solitary chance of the first half, although Pep Guardiola’s team made only one clear-cut opening of their own before the break. Second-string keeper Lukas Raeder came on for the second period after Manuel Neuer was forced out with injury, but Marco Reus and Jonas Hofmann spoiled the young reserve’s senior debut with by putting BVB three up before the hour and settling the outcome, as FCB finished on ten men due to Rafinha’s stoppage-time dismissal for retaliation.
The result means FCB remain on 78 points from 29 matches, 17 clear of Dortmund in second. The Bavarians are next in action on Wednesday in the last four of the national knockout cup at home to second-division Kaiserslautern.
Strong Bayern line-up
In contrast to the wholesale squad rotation in the league over the last couple of fixtures, Guardiola only made three changes to his team for the top-of-the-table domestic clash. Compared to the starting line-up against Manchester United last Wednesday, Javi Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Rafinha replaced Jerome Boateng, Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller.
The champions began with Neuer in goal, Rafinha, Martínez, Dante and David Alaba in the back four, Schweinsteiger and captain Philipp Lahm in central midfield, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery on the flanks, and ex-BVB man Mario Götze tucked in behind Mario Mandzukic.
Dortmund boss Jürgen Klopp brought in five new faces compared to the side for the courageous but ultimately futile midweek victory over Real Madrid, with former Munich youth Mats Hummels, midfield strategist Mkhitaryan and dangerman Reus retaining their places but FCB-bound Robert Lewandowski dropping to the bench.
Few first-half chances
After referee Felix Zwayer blew for kick-off, the opening exchanges resembled last season’s Champions League final at Wembley for a spell with Bayern patiently building from the back and Dortmund expending enormous energy on pressing high up the field.
It was an enthralling battle of wits as always but short on chances, with Götze testing Roman Weidenfeller early on but from an offside position, Alaba curling a 14th-minute free-kick a couple of yards wide, and Hummels getting away with what looked suspiciously like handball in hurling himself to block Götze’s effort from near the penalty spot.
But FCB lacked a little of their usual precision and BVB capped a good start to the game with the opening goal after 20 minutes, Hofmann’s quick throw into the box finding Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who in turn fed Reus. The sometime FCB transfer target unselfishly laid off for the unmarked Mkhitaryan to chip his finish past the helpless Neuer.
It took Guardiola’s men a long time to recover from the shock but there were signs of life at the end of the first half, as Mandzukic forced Weidenfeller into a sharp save with a volley from a Rafinha cross. The visitors held out and led at the break.
The second half started with a shock for the majority in the crowd but a welcome if surprise debut for Raeder after Neuer was forced to remain in the dressing room with a tight calf. Unfortunately for the youngster, his first involvement was to pick the ball from the back of the net on 49 minutes after Mkhitaryan broke from deep and played in Aubameyang, who teed up Reus to double the lead.
Matters took a turn for the worse in the 56th minute when Hofmann ran onto a simple long punt out of defence and crashed home the third, although Mr Zwayer overlooked the fact Reus seemed to foul Martinez in the build-up. Guardiola now sent on Müller and Kroos for Ribery and Robben, with Lewandowski and Manuel Friedrich taking over from Hofmann and Hummels for Borussia.
FCB roused themselves in a late effort to turn it around, but Mandzukic hit the side-netting in the 70th minute following a mazy thrust by Götze, Schweinsteiger slid a shot just wide, and Nuri Sahin cleared off the line in a scramble after a corner. BVB had chances on the break and Raeder made an excellent save from Aubameyang, and although Mandzukic did put the ball in the net he was called offside. Weidenfeller made a fine save to deny Götze a late consolation on an evening that ended with a red card for the frustrated Rafinha.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley