Dortmund 0-1 FC Bayern: Key talking points + Transfer talk
We sat down with @michelmunger from @bayerncentral to go through today’s big victory for FC Bayern Munich.
What did you make of today’s game?
MM: I saw two major points. First, a good display of football from the top two powerhouses in Germany for the entire world to watch. The Bundesliga tends to be underrated despite its quality, and the fact that it was first to emerge from the coronavirus lockdowns has created an opportunity to showcase the goods. I hope it gives a lasting impression as a league that's fun to watch.
Second, I am happy with the way the match went. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't meant to be a cakewalk. BVB have serious attacking skills and they have improved defensively since last year. There was no point in hoping for a blowout. Grinding your way to a win is fine in the circumstances. That's what Bayern did.
Is that the title race over in your opinion?
MM: Didn't Rocky Balboa say that it's not over until it's over? Never take the league for granted. BVB remain formidable and all it takes is a string of unlucky draws to tip the balance, at a rate of two points dropped every week. A seven-point lead is not enough to feel completely safe.
That said, pressure is on the opposition to go undefeated and hope that the Reds stumble. If Hansi Flick keeps coaching the way he does, their task will be difficult.
What sort of effect did the lack of fans have on the game, if any at all?
MM: Given how loud the Yellow Wall can be, an important source of motivation was missing for Dortmund. Also, referees are less likely to give a home advantage when making calls when they don't get yelled at by supporters. However, none of that prevented BVB from giving us a good performance and all clubs have the same problems at home.
What won Bayern the game today?
MM: Resilience. Bend but don't break. In elite sports, there is a fine margin between a narrow win and a blowout loss. The Reds prevailed because they were strong and structured enough to take pressure without falling apart.
After early season struggles, Bayern look a completely different team now! What do you put this down to? Is it simply due to a change of manager?
MM: The answer is by no means simple, but Hansi Flick's work is essential. Players did not buy into Niko Kovač's approach and did not appreciate his interpersonal skills. Carlo Ancelotti also had problems in Munich when he tried to change the team's ways. When a coach doesn't enjoy support in the dressing room, it's hard for him to get his men to perform.
Hansi Flick was able to take command with his very own style. Soft spoken, he established a good connection with the players who openly compare him to Jupp Heynckes. Tactically, he restored the full possession game with an injection of purpose in the final third and a strong dose of pressing to choke the counterattack.
The change of manager was crucial in such regards, but the players' reactions are ultimately as important as what the coach does in the dugout. They have to work in sync.
Have to get your take on Alphonso Davies, fans outside the Bundesliga are all now waking up to his talent. Where would you rank him in terms of the top LBs in the world?
MM: Based on form, I challenge anyone to name a left-back who is above Davies this season. That he blossomed this quickly is a major surprise. The young man doesn't have only talent, pace and technique. Fighting and winning appear to be written all over his DNA.
The challenge for Davies is developing and refining his talent further. Can he do the same work once pressure grows? That's what makes the difference between a prodigy and a superstar.
What can we expect from Bayern for the rest of the season? Do you think they can challenge for the UCL (assuming it comes back)?
MM: Carrying the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal titles seems within reach. We'll have to see what happens with the Champions League schedule in the coming weeks. If it returns, I like Bayern's chances based on form before the lockdown and since action resumed. Was anyone playing better football? If so, who?
What have you made of the return of the Bundesliga so far?
MM: It's nice to watch football again. The absence of crowds in stadiums is, however, a serious drawback. No fan of the game can appreciate the lack of atmosphere, and we all hope it's a temporary reality.
What sort of effect has the crisis had on Bayern? Will they still be active in the market?
MM: Bayern have money in the bank, which means that they are able to take the hit and come out of the crisis in good shape. I wouldn't say the same about competitors that swim into debt. If anything, the Bavarians are likely to be in a good position on the transfer market due to the strength of their balance sheet. They may be able to make moves that cash-strapped clubs won't pull off.
Thoughts on a potential move for Leroy Sané?
MM: Rumours consistently point to a summer transfer. If Bayern pull the trigger, it will provide greater competition on the wings. It's not a secret that Kingsley Coman has lost momentum in the last couple of years, and injuries may be to blame. Having a strong squad in all positions is necessary to compete for three titles every year, and acquiring Sané would help achieve such an objective.