It has been an exciting midweek round in German Bundesliga with Wednesday’s results providing a huge twist to the title race which is now surprisingly open and alive once again.
With Mainz claiming a stunning 2-1 victory at league leaders Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund taking all three points at Darmstadt, the Bavarians’ lead in front of Tuchel’s men has been cut from eight points to just five, making the Saturday’s “Der Klassiker” the crucial moment in the Bundesliga title chase.
Guardiola to take the blame
Pep Guardiola was steering his team on course to yet another title, what can still be the historic fourth on the bounce for Bayern Munich, but the Spaniard’s ship has somewhat diverted from its path and Pep Guardiola bears responsibility.
His future with Bayern Munich had been debated for months before it was announced that Guardiola decided not to extend his contract with German champions. Former Barcelona boss will be taking over at Manchester City at the end of the current campaign and the official announcement coincides with his team’s slump in form.
A friendly 2-1 loss to Karlsruher during the winter break was the ominous sign of the things to come.
Just two draws and six wins in eight games would’ve been the most positive result for any other team, but not for Bayern Munich, whose performances have been below par in some moments.
Injuries added misery
It needs to be mentioned that Guardiola’s team struggled with injuries to key defenders which forced the German champions to pick up Bundesliga castoff Serdar Tasci from Spartak Moscow in January in order to boost the back line.
Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber, Mehdi Benatia and Javi Martinez have all had their fair share of injuries in recent weeks and months with Guardiola deploying David Alaba and 21-year-old midfielder Joshua Kimmich as his centre back choices.
Mehdi Benatia has made his return, but Bayern still lack pace and quality in front of Manuel Neuer’s goal, which proved costly against Mainz, who have inflicted Bayern the first defeat since January and first home loss this season.
Samperio opened the scorings and Robben did well to equalize, but Bayern Munich’s problems that were visible in Italy against Juventus once again emerged in the closing stages of the Wednesday’s game when Cordoba struck a winner with four minutes on the clock.
Der Klassiker a welcoming opportunity for BVB
Borussia Dortmund are enjoying their life in the Bundesliga once again.
Jurgen Klopp’s final year in Dortmund has been largely disappointing, but Thomas Tuchel has managed to restore the recognizable style, making Dortmund fun to watch once again.
Tuchel’s side are on a fantastic run of results and are coming off from a seven-game winning stretch in all competitions with only one loss in their last 12. Dortmund have a better record that Bayern Munich in 2016 and with their offensive line up and firing from all guns it is fair to say that Dortmund have all the chances in the world in the Saturday’s derby.
Borussia Dortmund are given the odds of 23/10 to record a win over Bayern Munich in the upcoming Der Klassiker.
Signal Iduna Park showdown could provide Borussia Dortmund with a significant lifeline to keep them in the title chase. A triumph over the great rivals would cut the gap to only two points with nine games to go in the league and it would also be a huge morale-boost for Tuchel’s side and a great mental edge in the closing stages of the season.
Tomas Tuchel is feeling optimistic ahead of Bayern Munich’s visit.
“The advantage has melted – the situation has changed. Of course we are trying to shorten Bayern’s lead.
“Five points is a big lead, but the ball is with us!”, he said after the 2-0 win over Darmstadt.
Goals from Ramos and Durm made sure that BVB claim the maximum three points in their Wednesday match, which completed a sequence of four Bundesliga victories on the bounce and Dortmund will be feeling optimistic of their chances against Bayern ahead of the Saturday’s matchup.
Dortmund will have the remaining schedule working in their favour, as they are due to play three teams from Bundesliga’s top seven, while Bayern will have to face four of those sides.
Could Borussia Dortmund go out to surprise Bayern Munich and even win the league in the end?