Bayern Munich rolled to a 4-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in a meeting of the Bundesliga's giants.
Has there been a more low key edition of Der Klassiker in recent seasons? The clash between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund had little riding on it short of getting into best possible shape for this week’s Champions League quarterfinal first legs, with Dortmund playing at Monaco Tuesday while Bayern faces Real Madrid the next day. After all, Bayern has as good as wrapped up another title, while Dortmund, currently in fourth, should have enough time to overhaul the one-point gap with third-placed Hoffenheim to secure automatic Champions League qualification.
While Bayern’s 4-1 win told its own story–the reigning champion is clicking into form just at the right point of the season–this lacked the intensity of previous encounters. Dortmund is still decimated by injuries, and coach Thomas Tuchel claimed not to be surprised by the result, which was never in doubt after Franck Ribery and Robert Lewandowski scored inside the opening 10 minutes.
“Anything other than this dominance [by Bayern] and this result would have taken me by surprise,” said Tuchel, comparing Bayern to Real Madrid or Barcelona. In his defense, he picked an inexperienced team, with six players making their first appearance in Munich and another, Sebastian Rode, who had been out for six months.
It could have been closer, too. At 3-1, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed a one-on-one opportunity, and Bayern went up the other end and scored again.
Against Monaco this week, we will be able to compare two teams with the best young squads in the game, but Aubameyang cannot afford to miss those chances then (like he also did against Benfica in the round of 16 first leg). Tuchel will hope that Julian Weigl, Shinji Kagawa and Lukasz Piszczek will all be available, while Marco Reus could be back for the second leg. And as for facing Bayern again, Dortmund will have the chance for revenge in the German Cup semifinal at the end of this busy month.
As for Bayern, this preparation match for Madrid could hardly have gone any better. Arjen Robben scored a brilliant third and is in fine form; the only concern was Lewandowski, possibly Bayern’s only irreplaceable player, going off early with a sore shoulder, but he reassured that he'll be ready for Wednesday.
Bayern's form has been impressive since the turn of the year; more than Dortmund, or any other team in the Bundesliga, its closest rivalry is probably with Real Madrid. After this result, former Bernabeu boss Carlo Ancelotti will go into the game confident of eliminating the reigning European champion.