MUNICH, Germany — Bayern Munich rolled past Borussia Dortmund in the most electric edition of Der Klassiker in years, led by a Thomas Müller brace en route to a 4-2 win.
BVB traveled to Munich hoping to preserve or build upon their one-point lead on the Bundesliga table, while Bayern were looking to rebound from the turmoil amid the sudden firing of manager Julian Nagelsmann last week during the international break.
Bayern’s new head coach, Thomas Tuchel, found a way to earn the decisive 4-2 win over his former club in his first appearance at Allianz Arena. Bayern dominated their rivals in all areas of the game and not only took back the lead in the Bundesliga but also made the statement that the record champions will very likely celebrate their 11th consecutive title in May.
1. Bayern Munich play trademark Tuchel football
Even though Bayern’s new manager had only a few training sessions with the core of his team, Tuchel managed to put his stamp on the game and start his new stint in Munich on the right foot.
Bayern played with more structure against Dortmund on Saturday than under Nagelsmann in the weeks leading up to his sacking. The hosts showed some of the elements that have defined Tuchel’s teams in the past, specifically versatile wing plays and switch passes to the far side.
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Tuchel also seemed to specifically target Dortmund midfielder Emre Can. Leon Goretzka, who was on paper a centre midfielder in Bayern’s 4-2-3-1, moved forward and distracted Dortmund’s holding midfielder on many occasions. Goretzka roamed through the left half-space and opened room for Müller on the right-hand side.
It sounds rather simple, but Tuchel found the tactical tools he needed to outsmart his former team.
2. Kobel mistake puts Dortmund under pressure
Up until the 12th minute, Dortmund looked capable of being a team that could make this Klassiker an even battle. Then Emre Can, who looked erratic against his former team early on, committed a foul and was booked by referee Marco Fritz. Moments later, goalkeeper Gregor Kobel tried to clear the ball outside his penalty area, but completely missed it.
What is usually a mistake we see in Sunday leagues clearly rattled Dortmund, as pressure mounted on the guests not to put a foot wrong to keep their lead in the Bundesliga.
While BVB applied a high press early on, neutralising Bayern’s build-up plays on occasions, Dortmund spent the next 15 minutes after Kobel’s blunder mostly in their own half.
Bayern, meanwhile, pushed high up the field when Dortmund defender Niklas Süle and his teammates tried to play out of the back. Bayern’s third goal was the direct result of a successful pressing scheme that easily won the ball from Dortmund.
3. Bayern are allowed to dream again
Bayern were by no means a bad side under Nagelsmann, but recent outings looked uninspired and lacklustre, prompting a change at the helm.
Tuchel has shown at Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea that he can have an immediate impact, and that’s exactly what he did here against his former club, Dortmund. Now, it is likely that Bayern can carry momentum into the Champions League quarterfinals tie against Manchester City.
Whether it was justified to sack Nagelsmann remains debatable, but perhaps it pays off in the short term that Bayern’s board sacrificed what was once considered their generational coaching talent. Tuchel is great at identifying shortcomings in a team and finding quick solutions, and he is certainly off to a good start now.
Best and worst performers
Best: Thomas Müller, Bayern Munich
In his 41st Klassiker appearance, breaking a tie with Robert Lewandowski for the most appearances, Müller scored his 12th and 13th career goals against Dortmund. Bayern’s veteran remained incredibly dangerous until he was subbed off, regularly finding pockets in Dortmund’s defence and causing trouble for the guests.
Best: Leon Goretzka, Bayern Munich
While his individual stats might not look impressive, Bayern’s box-to-box midfielder was the key to destabilise Dortmund in the middle of the park. Goretzka essentially filled the role that Jude Bellingham usually has for Dortmund.
Best: Emre Can, Borussia Dortmund
The German international remains a controversial figure, as he can make things worse when he acts overly aggressively. But Can was the one Dortmund player who did everything to guide the team back on road after the first three goals. He also scored from the penalty spot confidently.
Worst: Marius Wolf, Borussia Dortmund
After he had received much praise by Germany national coach Hansi Flick during the international break, his night at Allianz Arena turned into a nightmare. Kingsley Coman outpaced and outsmarted Dortmund’s right-back on numerous occasions.
Worst: Sébastien Haller, Borussia Dortmund
The centre forward remains a nonfactor in Dortmund’s attack. It has become clear that he is nowhere near 100 percent after receiving successful cancer treatment earlier this season.
Worst: Sadio Mané, Bayern Munich
Tuchel brought the former Liverpool starter after 69 minutes and Mané had a few promising chances to score a goal, but something is off with him. Tuchel might have a tough task getting Mané back to form.
Highlights and notable moments
Bayern Munich got on the front foot early, but their opening goal came from a shocking error by Dortmund goalkeeper Gregor Kobel. He came way out of goal to stop the counterattack beyond the box, and when he attempted to kick the ball away, he missed entirely.
Calamitous error from Dortmund keeper gives Bayern the lead
Dayot Upamecano’s long pass is completely whiffed by Borussia Dortmund keeper Gregor Kobel to put the hosts in front.
If there were any questions about whether Bayern’s early lead was just a lucky fluke, Thomas Müller quickly ended them.
The Bayern Munich star struck on a corner in the 18th minute, making it 2-0.
Muller prods home to double Bayern’s lead
Thomas Muller makes it 2-0 to Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund with a simple finish from close range.
You thought Bayern Munich and Müller were done for the first half? Nope, five minute later, Müller struck again.
The goal was Müller’s fourth this season for Bayern.
Muller scores again to make it 3-0 to rampant Bayern
Thomas Muller calmly finishes the rebound to extend Bayern’s lead to 3-0 over Dortmund.
As you might have suspected, the match was pretty much over after that as Dortmund never looked close to waging a comeback.
After the match: What the managers and players said
Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel on the result: “No one should be too euphoric. We are proud of the team and they can be satisfied but there’s work ahead of us.”
Tuchel on his first match at the helm: “I was nervous today. I don’t know why but I just was. I did not know the processes, where to find my assistants and it happened all at once and suddenly I was in the arena coaching Bayern Munich.”
Tuchel on his career move: “I had received inquiries, but my plan was to continue (coaching) this summer. I also assumed I will continue abroad. But as it often is, life hits you while you make other plans.”
Dortmund manager Edin Terzic on the result: “We needed too long to response to the setbacks and leave them behind us. … We were behind three goals after 23 minutes. Still, we made an effort in the second half and changed a few things. But it is what is — we have to go on the plane very disappointed. It hurts; it hurts very much.”
Dortmund attacker Marco Reus on the performance: “We got caught on the break far too many times — totally uncommon actually. Bayern played it very well and could have scored more goals in one or two situations. It wasn’t a good night.”
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information research)
This was the third time that Dortmund conceded three goals in the opening 30 minutes of a Bundesliga fixture since last season. It happened just twice from 2010-11 to 2020-21.
Bayern Munich’s 26 goals inside the first 30 minutes of games this season are the most by any team in Europe’s top five leagues. PSG is second with 21 such goals, and next closest in the Bundesliga is Eintracht Frankfurt with 19.
Thomas Müller: four Bundesliga goals in 2023 (scored just five Bundesliga goals in the 2022 calendar year).
Kingsley Coman scored his sixth goal of the Bundesliga season, tied for his most goals in a single league season of his career. It’s his second goal in 19 appearances against Dortmund.
Bayern Munich: The Bavarians host SC Freiburg on Tuesday, April 4, in the quarterfinals of the German Cup (watch live on ESPN+ at 2:45 p.m. ET). Then Bayern Munich turn their focus back to the Bundesliga with another match against SC Freiburg, this time in Freiburg, on Saturday, April 8 (stream live on ESPN+ at 9:30 a.m. ET).
Borussia Dortmund: BVB head to RB Leipzig for the German Cup quarterfinal on Wednesday, April 5 (watch live on ESPN+ at 2:45 p.m. ET). Then, Dortmund host Union Berlin in the Bundesliga on Saturday, April 8 (stream live on ESPN+ at 9:30 a.m. ET).