When Bayern Munich lost to the MLS All-Stars early this month, supporters shrugged it off as just a preseason friendly. But after today’s 2-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup, will some of Pep Guardiola’s critics be sounding the alarm?
The challenge for Guardiola this season is that most of his side were the backbone of the German national side that won the World Cup this season. As a result of reaching, and winning, the final, these players have just returned to training, with many taking less time off than the recommended four weeks.
Against Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp was able to name practically his strongest team with Guardiola was able to use only three of his World Cup winners, Manuel Neuer in goal, Thomas Muller in midfield and Jerome Boateng in defence.
As if Bayern were not already understaffed, but they also lost defender Javi Martinez to injury after half an hour. He struck the arm of Marcel Schmelzer with his knee and needed to be carried straight into the dressing room, with Dante taking his place.
One new face in the Bayern lineup was Robert Lewandowski, who made his competitive debut against his former team-mates, but he saw relatively little of the ball as the hosts attacked from the outset. Lukasz Piszczek’s shot from an angle was parried away by an increasingly busy Neuer in the 17th minute before the hosts took a deserved lead six minutes later.
Mkhitaryan led the ball through with authority before trying to thread a pass through into the path of Aubameyang. A block from David Alaba prevented the Gabon forward from getting in a shot, but the ball fell kindly for the Armenian, who flashed his shot unstoppably to the left of Neuer.
Dortmund’s attacks were unrelenting and Sebastian Kehl stung Neuer’s palms again before he and Jonas Hofmann tested the man voted the best goalkeeper at the World Cup. At the other end, Mitchell Langerak did not want to be outdone as he denied Lewandowski in typical Neuer style, blocking the Pole’s shot with his upper body in the very first minute of the second half.
Mario Gotze, who preceded Lewandowski in moving from Dortmund to Munich by a year, was greeted by a chorus of whistles when he took to the field – but jeers turned to cheers within minutes when Aubameyang doubled Dortmund’s lead.
He exchanged passes with Piszczek before moving into the centre to meet the Pole’s cross ahead of Boateng and head unstoppably past Neuer, producing a Spiderman mask to celebrate his goal in the guise of his nickname.
Dortmund continued to look the more threatening, but a third goal was not needed with Ciro Immobile guilty of missing the most chances on his competitive debut for the club following his summer switch from Torino.