Borussia Dortmund had its probabilities. It had area on the counter and sights of purpose. It had a possibility to erase a harmful month, and to erase the sensation that the Bundesliga title race is getting away from the remainder of Germany.
It squandered these probabilities, and that chance. And the title, which appeared to be up for grabs just some weeks in the past, is careening additional and additional out of attain. Bayern Munich simply wont relinquish it.
The champions went to the Westfalenstadion on Saturday and gained the newest version of Der Klassiker, 3-1. They bossed possession within the first half, rode objectives from their attacking stars, and waltzed to a four-point lead atop the league that’s rising by the week. Their disaster has formally been put to mattress. The title race would possibly simply have been too.
The sport was not one-sided. However Bayern was medical – extra medical than its foes, because it has been for five-plus consecutive years. Its management materialized right into a 1-0 lead right away when the ball fell to the ft of Arjen Robben on the fringe of the field within the fifteenth minute:
Robert Lewandowski doubled, and finally tripled the lead with two flicks both aspect of halftime:
Christian Pulisic was Dortmund’s brightest performer on a darkish evening. Within the first half, he danced away from the Bayern protection after a nook and single-handedly led a fast counter. Shinji Kagawa’s shot on the finish of it was deflected off the put up and large.
Pulisic was elusive as ever, and within the second half he created one other superb probability for Dortmund. However Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Andriy Yarmolenko – who additionally had a close-range first-half shot saved by Sven Ulreich – acquired in one another’s method and inadvertently conspired to waste the chance.
Pulisic finally helped arrange Dortmund’s purpose by wriggling out of a double-team within the nook. His meg of Robben was filthy. Marc Bartra’s end was majestic.
However at that time, the intrigue had been flushed away. The story of the day had been written. Bayern had been at its greatest when the sport was within the stability. Dortmund hadn’t been.
“We didn’t come out able to play within the first half,” Pulisic mentioned after the match. “By no means. Bayern, they had been doing no matter they need, they had been discovering the areas. We simply weren’t able to play.”
Munich was 5 factors behind Dortmund when Jupp Heyneckes changed Carlo Ancelotti final month. The remainder of the league smelled blood as Bayern misplaced to Hoffenheim and drew Wolfsburg, then drew Hertha Berlin underneath interim boss Willy Sagnol.
In lower than a month, Heyneckes has taken the Bavarians from 5 factors again to 6 factors forward of Dortmund. Their 4 factors forward of RB Leipzig, whom they beat final week. The previous leaders, in the meantime, have been uncovered defensively, and have fallen properly off the tempo. It might be shocking, due to this fact, to see Bayern cede its spot atop the desk to anyone between now and season’s finish.
The five-time champions will not be invincible. They don’t seem to be fairly as robust as they’ve been up to now. They don’t seem to be within the clear simply but. However alternatives just like the one Ancelotti’s Bayern gave the remainder of the league solely current themselves so typically. They have to be taken once they do.
In simply 4 weeks, Dortmund and Leipzig have already didn’t just do that. And now they face an uphill battle to make the league attention-grabbing.
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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. nationwide groups, the Premier League, and far, rather more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports activities. Have a tip? Query? Remark? E-mail him at email@example.com or comply with him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.