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This ain’t no Farmers League, yo



You have to be living blindfolded, deep in a cave, to pretend that the Bundesliga is a farmers league. The latest encounter between FC Bayern and Borussia Dortmund proved it.


Three thoughts on what turned out to be a cracking match between the two German powerhouses.


Beatable Bavarians


This nailbiter showed that the team which won a treble this year remains vulnerable at times. It may sound ludicrous to many, but the paranoid segment of the fanbase will nod in approval.


Dortmund fought for every ball and looked quite capable of squeezing a win out of their performance. It took a couple of lucky deflections for the Reds to add to their tally, although they could protest that goals taken away by VAR help paint a clearer picture of their on-pitch strength.


Was this match a fluke? Not by any means. Bayern could only edge BVB 1:0 in May. This weekend’s hosts have been competitive, and all they have to do is to prove that they belong to the European elite once again.


The quality of opposition in the Bundesliga also proves my point. One slip-up by a tired Bayern team resulted in a 4:1 drubbing at the hands of Hoffenheim in late September.


Furthermore, FCB did not look invincible when it took on Olympique Lyonnais and Paris Saint-Germain in the late stages of the Champions League this summer.


Bayern’s dominance at the top of the Bundesliga is therefore not a matter of dubious opposition in the upper tier of the league, but the result of the team’s sustained strength.


The chink in the armour


Although the Bavarians are fearsome and capable of defeating any team, they still have a major vulnerability. Their offensive playing style leads defenders to go up the pitch, exposing them to long balls and counterattacks.


While the back line generally defended well against Dortmund, it still made mistakes caused in part by having to catch up and adjust with attackers on the move. That wouldn’t be a problem if the European champions were the type to park the bus.


That chink in the armour was enough to make encounters with teams such as Hoffenheim and Lyon difficult, and it could prove occasionally costly.


Kimmich injury a concern


What is the scariest thing that can happen to your team if you are a Bayern fan? An injury crisis. Torn ligaments and other ailments may have cost FCB some titles in the Pep Guardiola era. That threat appeared to have vanished in recent years, but the injury bug is biting again.


The recent loss of Alphonso Davies and short-term concerns for Benjamin Pavard already thinned the ranks at full-back. While Lucas Hernández has no problem deputising at right-back, Bouna Sarr raised a few eyebrows with a shaky performance on the weekend.


Joshua Kimmich’s lateral meniscus injury and surgery will keep him out until January 2021, which is a bigger headache.


The combative young man is half of the midfield dynamic duo that found the path to victory in this year’s toughest games. Kimmich is absolutely essential to the team since his move from right-back to the middle of the pitch.


Can his colleagues compensate? Corentin Tolisso can be brilliant, but can he be consistent? Can Javi Martínez return to vintage form? Is Marc Roca the joker up coach Hansi Flick’s sleeve?


Those are big question marks as difficult encounters with RB Salzburg, Atlético de Madrid and RB Leipzig are scheduled for the upcoming weeks. By the way, do you notice that a certain energy drinks company bought its way to competitive football when I mention the challenges ahead?


Final thoughts


We were treated to an excellent show on Saturday. The better team won, but only by a fine margin against opponents who know what they are doing on a football pitch. Bundesliga fans can at least take that away from the league’s “classic” matchup.


@michelmunger

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