Bayern Munich’s Der Klassiker win – Unmerited critique on Legacy

Bayern Munich players celebrating against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images)
Bayern Munich players celebrating against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images) /

What is Bayern Munich’s place in a league they have ruled over for a decade? If the weekend is anything to go by, the final outcome for this season is as academic as it is meaningless, at least to those who have looked at Bayern with an eye of disdain for years.

Der Klassiker has long been the pivotal clash of the league; a night that paints a picture of the league thus far and a brief window into what is to come. If not for standings, there is always the matter of pride.

The latest Der Klassiker encapsulated the notion behind its fervency in all its glory. A win for the Black and Yellow would have catapulted them ahead of Bayern in the league standings, a damning statement in their claim for the Meisterschale. The absence of Joshua Kimmich sprinkled doubts into the minds of the Bavarian faithful, who haven’t necessarily had their hopes buoyed by the performance of the backline in recent matches. With Erling Haaland gunning towards them, lackadaisicality isn’t a luxury they could afford.

The affair was predictably anarchic. Jude Bellingham and Julian Brandt took advantage early on to hand Dortmund the lead, only for it to be squandered by Mats Hummels whose error let Robert Lewandowski equalize.

The narrative of the first half was established as per. Bayern pressed high, Dortmund countered. Haaland was consistently on deck to sprint through as Bayern systematically tried to barge their way through. A barrage of chances for either side in the half was bookended by yet another mishap as the ball fell to Kingsley Coman for the finish. Bayern had reclaimed the lead. No complaints.

A delectable half of end-to-end football. What followed, perhaps wasn’t as straightforward. An early goal for Dortmund leveled the score. Soon after, Marco Reus was brought down in the box by Lucas Hernández, yet no penalty was given. The chances came thick and fast for the Black and Yellow as Bayern found themselves clutching onto the score-line.

And then, it happened. A Bayern corner was sent out by Mats Hummels. He broke through the skirmish and made contact with the ball through his elbow before the subsequent strike sailed over. No appeal, a moment that perhaps should have been inconspicuous. Felix Zwayer, on the other hand, decided to award Bayern the penalty, perhaps on the grounds of obstruction from Thomas Müller.

Dortmund were livid, none more so than Marco Rose who was sent off for his reaction. Robert Lewandowki stepped up and scored. The game would go on to finish in the favour of the Bavarians who pull ahead with a four-point lead in the league.

What should have been a night that highlighted numerous things – Dortmund’s versatile offense being let down by errors at the back. Bayern’s upturn in defensive agility yet still learning to streamline the fast-paced attack, all centered around Zwayer, his past, and how Bayern somehow always gets away with seemingly dubious decisions.

This brings us to the question about Bayern’s place. For years, the side has received flack for numerous things, most revolving around the fact that they generally, win. Each year, the league and its players, despite an incredible brand of football, suffer due to the monopoly. Lewandowski’s Ballon D’or snub is a case in point.

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And once again, the talks begin. Bayern may win the league, but what does it mean to those who look to critique? Another ‘dubious’ win for Bayern. A tainted feather in their blemished cap, among several attempts to devalue Bayern’s legacy.

Der Klassiker delivered a beautiful night of football. Bayern rightfully emerged victorious. Those who look down upon the side and its consistent dominance have a new claim to their theory. For the rest, the league moves on, still close as ever. Dortmund may find solace in the fact that the night could very well have been theirs.

It’s all up for grabs, and that’s the point.