Dortmund’s defensive woes, Robben’s left foot and Pulisic’s brilliance: five talking points from Der Klassiker

Bayern Munich ran out clear winners in this weekend's Der Klassiker fixture. Chris Williams gives us five talking points from the game itself.

Whilst this may have been the most exciting recent fixture between Germany’s two best teams on paper, on the pitch it turned out to be a rather one-sided affair.

With the winner of the match-up going to the top of the table, what the league standings didn’t tell was the opposite directions that these two teams have been headed in different weeks. 

Peter Bosz’s Dortmund, having flown up the Bundesliga table from the start of the season, now find themselves very much on a downward trajectory while Bayern, freed from the shackles of Carlo Ancelotti, have been returning to normality under the direction of Jupp Heynckes.

Following this pattern, Bayern went three goals clear and never looked back. A late goal from Marc Bartra proved to be nothing more than consolation.

Chris Williams gives us five talking points from Germany’s biggest game. 

  1. 1 Robben’s trusty left foot

    As he so often does, the Dutchman scored a trademark goal to open the scoring on Saturday evening. Given acres of space by summer defensive signing Ömer Toprak, the Bayern winger was able to receive the ball from a Rodriguez knockdown and pick his spot with ease. Roman Bürki could do nothing to stop the ball as Robben used the inside of his left foot to whip the ball into the Dortmund goal. 

    Five weeks ago the 33-year-old looked a shadow of his former self. However, since the departure of Carlo Ancelotti and the return of Jupp Heynckes, Robben looks to be back to his best. 

    “We were five points behind Dortmund, and in three of four weeks we are now six clear” Robben said post-match. “We can be very very happy since our new manager came in” 

  2. 2 Dortmund’s defensive woes

    The high-flying Dortmund of August and September now looks a distant memory. During the opening seven Bundesliga games, Peter Bosz’s side only conceded twice in 630 minutes of play. Since the turn of October, though, the Schwarzgelben have leaked 12 in their last four matches. Factor in their disappointing displays in the Champions League and their few weeks of pain now look to be a mini-crisis. 

    Thomas Tuchel was resilient in his pursuit of Bayer Leverkusen’s Ömer Toprak 14 months ago: so much so it affected the relationship between him and the Dortmund hierarchy. Eventually, the ex-Dortmund head coach got his wish but he was fired before he had an opportunity to work with the Turkish international. 

    Suffice to say the 29-year-old has had a less than perfect start to life at the Westfalenstadion. Culpable for all three goals on Saturday he looked lost at times and asleep at others.    

  3. 3 Lewandowski loves a goal against Dortmund

    Once the darling of the Südtribüne, the Polish striker is now throwing pain towards the Yellow Wall any time he faces them. Saturday’s clever flick was the ninth goal he has scored against his old club since he left to join Bayern in 2014 for £45m. 

    Last season, the Pole was very vocal in his criticism of both Ancelotti and his teammates as he missed out of the Bundesliga’s Torjägerkanone by one goal to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. This season he seems as determined as ever to win back the top scorer's mantle. 

    With 11 goals in 11 Bundesliga games so far, it could be that another 30 goal season beckons. Should he achieve this Lewandowski will have hit the magical 30 goal mark for three consecutive seasons.

  4. 4 Bosz under pressure

    It is crazy to think that after 11 games Dortmund’s new head coach could be already be part way along the plank. However, a total collapse in the Champions League has been followed by an uncomfortable run of results in the Bundesliga. 

    The Dutchman hasn’t been blessed by good luck since his arrival at Signal Iduna Park. First, he lost the magnificent talent that was Ousmane Dembélé - the French wonderkid who went on strike until he forced his dream move to the Nou Camp. 

    Secondly, super-finisher Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang now looks unable to find his way to goal with Google Maps. The Gabonese striker was guilty of another poor showing this weekend although, if reports from Germany are correct, last season’s top scorer could be carrying a knock to his ankle.

    Whatever the problem, it isn’t helping the new head coach at all. A difficult away day at newly-promoted VfB Stuttgart awaits after the international beak before Dortmund welcome Champions League high-fliers Tottenham Hotspur in late November. 

  5. 5 Pulisic the bright light at a dark time for Dortmund

    If it is true that Dortmund are in a mini-crisis then one man who could drag them out is US Men’s National Team superstar, Christian Pulisic. The teenage sensation has found himself thrust into the limelight this season after the departure of Ousmane Dembélé and the injury to Marco Reus. 

    On Saturday evening he showed why there is a circus of noise surrounding him, picking the ball up in the attacking left corner on 87 minutes he nonchalantly made Sebastian Rudy and Arjen Robben look like a couple of schoolboys. Tip-tapping the ball away from Rudy before slipping the ball through Robben’s legs he provided the pass before the assist that saw Marc Batra pull a goal back for the hosts.  

    Prior to this the American had been busy all night and should have been credited with at least one assist had Shinji Kagawa and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang been able to match their finish to that of Pulisic’s pass. With suitors across Europe excited by his play, Dortmund will have to ensure they are able to compete with Bayern or the teenager may be forced to seek his fortune elsewhere.

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Chris Williams


Chris is a freelance European football journalist. Covering the Bundesliga, Premier League and both of UEFA’s European club competitions. Published in both local and international publications he also contributes to television and radio across the globe. A member of the UK’s Sports Journalist Association and the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) he lives and breathes football.