So here I’ve stood while wind and rain
Have set the trees a-sobbin,
And risked my life for that damned salad bowl,
That wasn’t worth the robbin
Things fall apart. You probably knew that. Things fall apart against Moenchengladbach. Things fall apart against Hannover. Things fall apart against Mainz. Things fall apart against Leverkusen. Yet what set this match aside from all the other reverses FC Bayern have endured this season is that nothing fell apart. Heynckes’ men gave one of their best performances of the season, and yet even this was not enough to snatch a single point against Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion on Wednesday, let alone all three. Football can be such a fickle mistress sometimes, eh?
Robert Lewandowski kicked off under the sickening, yellow light of the Westfalenstadion. Within a matter of seconds, Bayern came close to taking the lead, and would have done so if it wasn’t for those dumb kids and their Roman Weidenfeller. Seconds after that original matter of seconds, Jakub Blaszczykowski (If I’ve spelled his name correctly, I will be highly disappointed in myself) drilled agonizingly wide after being played through into a nice one on one with the stranded Manuel Neuer. This would not be the end for either Neuer nor for Weidenfeller, the former claiming a massive save on Kevin Grosskreutz, and the latter plucking a corner from the thick, oppressive Dortmund air in the opening ten minutes. It was utter bananas.
The next twenty minutes unfolded without great incident, save the frequent and petty free kicks dished out by referee and celebrated polar bear Knut Kircher. Franck Ribery and David “magnificent left-back” Alaba combined seamlessly on the wing, playing each other fluid passes and quick little through-balls, but I’ve had greater success peddling my nose hairs on the sweeping boulevards and seedy alleyways of Vancouver. By stretching our play, we left ourselves vulnerable to balls through the centre, which isn’t such a clever and lighthearted innuendo when we lose. Speaking of balls, Thomas Mueller was hacked down by an artistic collaboration between Messrs Neven Subotic and Mats Scummels. A very obvious free kick in a dangerous position was inexplicably denied to the visitors by His Arctic Highness Herr Kircher, who followed up the trick by booking Arjen Robben for falling down after being slalomed through by a particularly loathsome cretin in yellow, who, not content with fouling the Dutchman, gave an encore consisting of a heinous and reprehensible Greg Louganis charade, seducing His Arctic Highness into awarding the scummy ponce a free kick.
For the next twenty minutes, from this free kick onwards, the Borussians would dominate play, and would have likely put a few past Manuel Neuer were it not for a spate of orgasmic defending from Holger Badstuber, Jerome Boateng, and the great white whale of Bavaria himself. Yes, Dortmund’s attack would in ordinary circumstances deserve a goal, but our defence repulsed them with the sort of icy rejection usually reserved for Holger’s cherry popping exploits. Dortmund pushed men forward who, like Napoleon at Tilsit, should not be pushed. The danger that would no doubt occur were Bayern to launch any counterattack off such a risque strategy was so terrible that the schwarzgelben were pushed into an increased sense of urgency, an urgency that, while giving their play another dimension in attack, subconsciously forced Klopp’s side into making the subtlest and most deadly of errors. The prime instance of this came in the 24th minute, as Shinji Kagawa, supported in the area on all sides by yellow shirts, declined to make the crucial pass to send one of his teammates through on goal, resulting in an eventual breakdown of the play and returned possession to Bayern. Then again, I’m not a tactical analyst.
At no point in the first half, says the brave new world of blogging, did Bayern create any goalscoring opportunity, nor did they have any chance of beating the yellow wall of defenders protecting Roman Weidenfeller. This was particularly the case in the 29th minute, as the Dortmund defence did not allow Toni Kroos a shot, thus his shot, which did not happen, in no way beat Weidenfeller, and thus did not go wide of the post. Sanity was restored in the 30th minute, as Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blazsczykowski combined in the area to give Mats Scummels an overhead kick, which His Arctic Highness promptly ruled an offside. That wasn’t in the script.
In a cruel twist of fate, Kevin Grosskreutz received the ball in open play shortly after a corner Dortmund’s way. The spayed terrier did the noble thing for once in his life and hammered the ball against the post. The horror would not be over, however, as the ball bounced past Neuer, now stranded by his right post, and across the box in the most inconvenient way possible (Honestly, Al Gore had nothing on this), before Jerome Boateng stepped in and hoofed the ball twenty feet away. This would be the home side’s last truly great chance before the bells tolled halftime and bananas thrown by The Greatest Supporters In Europe rained down upon Manuel Neuer.
If the second half in Dortmund were a soda, it would either be called Pschitt!!!, or more likely First Half Lite. Both sides yet again spread their play to the wings, but play was conducted more centrally than before. There were still chances, but not as many as before. The first of these chances came in the 50th minute, as that unspeakable player who disgraces the proud name of the number 19 rifled in a cross, headed at Neuer by Shinji Kagawa. It would be Dortmund’s last great opportunity for the next twenty minutes, as Bayern would embark on a beautiful twenty-minute stretch of holding the ball on the wings, tapping in crosses for Franck Ribery and Thomas Mueller to drive wide. It wouldn’t last.
In the 76th minute, Robert Lewandowski handed Dortmund the lead. From this point onwards, the run of play, shameless erfolgsfan that it is, mostly went in favour of Dortmund. And that, with the exception of a certain penalty that I have no wish to relive, was the match.
Most importantly, Bayern did not lose this game, rather Dortmund won. Heynckes’ men can go home proud of their performance. While I wouldn’t go far as to say we deserved a win, that performance easily merited a draw, but then that’s football. This season isn’t over yet.
- I would like to buy Manuel Neuer a pint. And then another pint after that. Damn it all, I’m going with a barrel.
- Holger Badstuber is psychologically too young to drink alcohol. He may have an ice cream sandwich.
- I haven’t seen a left back performance stronger than David Alaba’s tonight since Karl Marx.
- Arjen Robben missed a penalty and a decent chance in the dying embers of the match. While it may be tempting to blame the Dutchman for losing us the salad bowl, were it not for Robben’s vital contribution throughout the season, we would have likely lost the title before we even set foot on the pitch at the Westfalenstadion. In the words of King Carlos of Spain, “why don’t you shut up?!”
- If Neven Subotic were to die tomorrow, I would be sorely tempted to fly out to Dortmund and shout expletives at his rotting corpse. On a scale of 1 to Grosskreutz, the Serbian molester flies off the charts.
- Of the SKY pundit panel, only Sebastian Hellmann correctly tipped the score of today’s match. While more astute readers may point out that Steffen Freund’s prediction of a 1-0 was indeed correct, the weekly arbiter of the scoreline always tips against Bayern, so his prediction thus has little intellectual value.
- While I am all in favour of equal opportunites, do we really think we should be allowing a polar bear to referee matches?
- Considering the vast numbers of entirely preventable injuries Jurgen Klopp’s men sustained from tripping on the grass at the Westfalenstadion, you’d think Dortmund might consider it financially prudent to invest in a new groundsman.
- Marco Reus, still under contract at ‘Gladbach, attended the match with his friend Mario Goetze, who wore a New York Yankees cap. Goetze is a massive prick like that.
- I’ve gone off bananas forever.
- Jurgen Klopp has an ugly hat and an ugly sweater.
- 1-0 Lewandowski (77′)
- Borussia Dortmund:
- Moritz Leitner (Kagawa, 74′)
- Ivan Perisic (Gündogan, 74′)
- Patrick Owomoyela (Blaszczykowski, 89′)
- FC Bayern:
- Bastian Schweinsteiger (Müller, 61′)
- Ivica Olic (Gomez, 75′)
Team stats (Dortmund-Bayern):
- Ball possession: 44% – 56%
- Shots taken: 13 – 7
- Passes completed (in %): 291 – 458 (80% – 84%)
- Corner kicks: 3 – 4
- Tackles won: 53% – 47%
- Fouls committed: 10 – 9
- Distance covered: 121,4 – 116,5
Leading player stats (Dortmund-Bayern):
- Touches: Neven Subotic (65) – Toni Kroos (100)
- Shots taken: Robert Lewandowski (4) – Robben/Ribery/Kroos (2 each)
- Passes completed: Ilkay Gündogan (35) – Toni Kroos (65)
- Crosses attempted: Jakub Blaszczykowski (5) – Alaba/Lahm (3 each)
- Tackles won: Robert Lewandowski (20) – David Alaba (17)
- Tackles won in %: Neven Subotic (72%) – Toni Kroos (65%)
- Distance covered: Sebastian Kehl (12,9) – Luiz Gustavo (12,0)
- Fastest sprint in km/h: Jakub Blaszczykowski (33,3) – David Alaba (32,2)
Next match: Saturday v Mainz (Bundesliga), 6.30 pm