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Lead still five points

Dominant Bayern held by tenacious Borussia

Bayern remain in pole position in the Bundesliga title race following Saturday’s goalless draw between the leaders and second-placed Dortmund in the 94th edition of Der Klassiker, an intense and tactically high-quality encounter in which Munich were the better team but failed to translate their superiority into goals.

The 81,359 capacity crowd at the Signal Iduna Park saw an even contest in the first half-hour but Pep Guardiola’s men tightened their grip before the interval and began creating chances, only for Douglas Costa to miss the best of them when clean through on goal. Arturo Vidal hit the bar on the hour as the men in red pressed for the opener, but despite their dominance the champions ultimately had to settle for a valuable away point.

The result means Bayern now have 63 points from 25 matches, still five clear of the black-and-yellows, with Hertha Berlin a further 16 back in third. The Bavarians are back in league action at home to struggling Werder Bremen next Saturday evening.

Star-studded line-ups

Bayern boss Guardiola made five changes to the team surprisingly beaten at home by Mainz in midweek, with Philipp Lahm, Joshua Kimmich, Xabi Alonso, Costa and Thomas Müller replacing Rafinha, Mehdi Benatia, Thiago, Franck Ribery and Kingsley Coman.

The visitors began with Manuel Neuer in goal, Juan Bernat, David Alaba, Kimmich and skipper Lahm in the back four, Alonso in central midfield, Müller, Vidal, Costa and Arjen Robben strung across the centre of the park, and former BVB man Robert Lewandowski at centre-forward.

Thomas Tuchel’s home line-up also featured a clutch of big names who were rested in midweek, with the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marco Reus restored to the team captained by ex-FCB youth Mats Hummels. Much of the interest in the build-up centred on the head-to-head between the league’s top strikers, Bayern’s Lewy on 23 goals and BVB’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on 22 so far this term.

Reds up the pressure

After referee Tobias Stieler whistled play underway on a chilly evening in the Ruhr Valley, the champions fashioned the first chance when BVB keeper Roman Bürki flapped at a Costa cross and the ball dropped invitingly for Müller, but the Germany man got underneath his attempted finish. Costa let off a shot of his own but Neuer was in action to deny Aubameyang on 11 minutes, before Vidal headed wide from Costa’s centre and Erik Durm drove into the side-netting at the other end.

Kimmich made a decisive intervention to thwart Reus after 26 minutes, but Costa really should have opened the scoring when clean through a minute later, only for Bürki to get the better of the Brazilian in the one-on-one.

Lewandowski’s drive from 16 yards was deflected over the bar, the lively Vidal was only just crowded out close to goal and then strayed a fraction offside as he chased down Alonso’s through ball, Müller’s shot was blocked and Robben drew a save from Bürki and then slid a low drive just wide as the Reds had easily the better of the chances towards the end of the goalless first half.

Unlucky Arturo

The early minutes of the second period were cagey as the sides felt each other out again, but Neuer was suddenly called into action to deny the charging Aubameyang on 51 minutes. Robben responded but aimed too close to Bürki, before Vidal headed across the race of goal, Robben cracked a rising drive over the bar, and Durm was forced to head behind for a corner from the Dutchman’s chip.

From the resulting award Vidal blasted at goal but Bürki threw out a hand and deflected the Chilean’s shot onto the bar. Aubameyang’s snap shot hit Neuer’s side-netting, but the action was mainly at the other end with Robben scooping over the bar from just ten yards following busy work by Vidal.

Ribery took over from Costa for the last quarter-hour, before Vidal shot too high, Alonso’s cheeky 50-yard lob drifted wide with Bürki backpedalling, and Müller miscued from a promising position. BVB sub Adrian Ramos headed wide of Neuer’s goal but there was to be no separating the sides on the day.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley