Bayern Munich struggled away from home, again, losing to Leverkusen 2-0. Meanwhile, Dortmund, who haven’t tasted league defeat since September, didn’t have it easy against Mainz, but came out with a 2-1 victory, their 7th consecutive victory as the open up a 7 point lead at the top of the German league.
Where did Bayern’s season go so wrong, in what looked like a year that might be a combination of local and Europan glory. A few months ago, Bayern were tipped as potential Champions League winners, just below Barcelona and Real Madrid. Since winter hit the continent and Bastian Schweinsteiger went down, things haven’t been the same, but it’s not all about the talented midfielder missing from the lineup.
Arjen Robben made it clear this week just how unhappy he is with Jupp Heynckes managing the team. The 66 year old manager, who has won two league titles with Bayern over twenty years ago and has a Champions League title under his belt as well (Real Madrid, 1998) seemed like the right person at the right time during the early months of the season. Bayern were steamrolling through the league, until Dortmund to wake up from their summer sleep, which lengthened into the fall.
Their 1-0 win at the Alianz Arena put them on top, and they haven’t let go since. Dortmund haven’t lost since September, and their second consecutive with over Bayern in Munich made Heynckes and others realize that despite the big names, whatever Jurgen Klopp is building at the Westfalenstadion is here to stay. Injuries don’t matter, and who plays up front doesn’t matter. The system and the enthusiasm, the perfect tactical discipline, the hunger, which unfortunately wasn’t there during the Champions League group state, are just too much for anyone in Germany right now.
And while Bayern struggle to play their usual game with Alaba on the pitch and Franck Ribery on the bench, Dortmund are just as dominant as last season since they’ve hit their stride. Martio Gotze is out injured and Lucas Barrios has lost his place. Shinji Kagawa returned from injury and has scored 7 goals since. Robert Lewandowski has scored 16 goals so far this season, Kevin Großkreutz continues to play like the best winger in Germany, despite Robben or Ribery.
The last time Bayern didn’t win the title two years in a row was in the mid 1990’s, when Dortmund won consecutive titles and the Champions League in 1997. It’s difficult seeing them actually winning the European title again next year, but with Bayern simply looking handicapped at the moment and Borussia Monchengladbach a lesser threat despite the winning style and youth spirit, Dortmund have a real chance of laying the groundwork for a second football empire in Germany.