Despite their limitations, FC Bayern have shown us that they can at least win one title in Germany this season by defeating Borussia Dortmund 5:0. It has everything to do with motivation.
Appetite for destruction
The most important factor in this match was not talent. Both teams had it. Coaching experience? Lucien Favre has more of it than Niko Kovač.
What was the single most important foundation under this win? Motivation. The Bavarians showed an appetite for destruction from the very beginning. Passion was often absent in the early season struggles. Desire was sorely missing in recent matches such as the Freiburg draw and the narrow win against FC Heidenheim in DFB-Pokal.
This Saturday, motivation was very high and it helped Bayern to conquer very difficult opposition with ease… in 45 minutes.
How can we explain that? I keep thinking that the players are generally responsible for responding to their coach’s command, but not only in key matches. They should show up all the time. Look at how Kovač behaves on the sidelines. He’s always fired up. This does not always translate on the pitch and I don’t think it is his fault.
The trio from hell
A trio of players had a massive impact on this match.
First, I ask Thomas Müller to take a bow. Returning to his virtual no.10 behind the striker was vital for the execution of a successful tactical plan.
The Raumdeuter did not only find spaces. He made clever passes that allowed the team to progress forward in fast and furious fashion. He launched Robert Lewandowski and other teammates forward like rockets.
Second, David Alaba. After a difficult start to the season, he picked up steam. The Austrian missed a couple of weeks of competition recently, and it showed. His movement, ability to read plays and deliver solid crosses is a difference maker in any match. It matters: he is one of the purest talents on the team.
Third: Thiago Alcântara. The midfield general can be frustratingly inconsistent, but he showed up in a big way on Saturday. Accurate corner kicks, great support near the ball in the midfield and the occasional shot on goal gave the Reds life.
Honourable mention to Javi Martínez, whose defensive shift was massive.
BVB’s little mistakes
Most football observers will credit Bayern for a strong performance against BVB, but let us also admit that the Ruhr side made mistakes.
Bayern were aggressive one-on-one. The bees lost the ball cheaply on several occasions. The yellow shirts often gave too much space to Mats Hummels in corner situations, and that resulted in a goal and more headers on target. One little misplaced pass by central defender Dan-Axel Zagadou proved costly, setting up Bayern’s second goal.
Little mistakes can be forgiven against lower-level teams, but not against the elite. The way Bayern dished out punishment whenever given a chance also speaks volume about their opportunism on the day. We can only ask for more of that killer instinct.
Bürki saves BVB’s honour… maybe
It’s even more encouraging from a Bavarian perspective to consider that Roman Bürki and his crossbar made a few big saves.
Had the keeper and the aluminum not had that much of an impact on the match, Die Bayern could have added a goal or two to their tally.
What struck me the most was how BVB were discouraged in the second half. The legs were gone. Mental fortitude? In shambles. Bayern everything away in 45 minutes.
This team has more limitations in the past due to player declines, but it remains dangerous when firing on all cylinders. There is no excuse not to win the Bundesliga title this season before looking forward to a busy summer transfer window.