Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich claim hard-fought victory with Der Klassiker on the horizon

Grey Whitebloom
Bayern Munich's players celebrate a hard-fought 1-0 win against Arminia Bielefeld
Bayern Munich's players celebrate a hard-fought 1-0 win against Arminia Bielefeld / CHRISTOF STACHE/GettyImages
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As Kingsley Coman’s looping pass tumbled out of the sky into Leroy Sane’s stride, the walls of black shirts that had packed Arminia Bielefeld’s well-guarded box parted.

With a rare, unobstructed sight of Stefan Ortega’s goal, Bayern's number ten sliced his volley wide. Wheeling away in bewilderment, Sane's latest and most glaring miss of a game rife with squandered chances left the lucky few allowed into the Allianz Arena dreading 'one of those nights' that so rarely come around for Bayern.

They needn't have worried - if they ever did that is. To paraphrase the immortal commentary line Clive Tyldesley delivered about Manchester United (at the catastrophic cost of the Bavarians themselves in 1999): Can Bayern Munich score? They always score.

And so it proved. As the game tumbled into its final 20 minutes, Jamal Musiala picked out Thomas Muller lurking on the edge of Bielefeld's box. Before the swarm of visitors could descend upon the ball, Bayern's Raumdeuter played a first-time pass to Sane, allowing time to steady himself before belting a stunning opener into the top corner from the D.

Bayern's record-breaking 102nd Bundesliga goal of the calendar year (it's still November!) extended the club's scoring streak to 60 consecutive league games. In fact, the last time a Bayern side failed to find the net domestically, Julian Nagelsmann was prowling the opposition's dugout for a 0-0 with RB Leipzig in February 2020.

Squeezing out a 1-0 win against the second-worst team in the division is hardly grounds for jubilation at Bayern. However, it was an increasingly important victory in the context of the season.

Bolstered by the return of Erling Haaland, Borussia Dortmund leapfrogged Bayern at the Bundesliga's summit with a 3-1 win at Wolfsburg earlier on Saturday, underlining the challenge they pose ahead of a hotly anticipated Der Klassiker next weekend.

"It's an extremely important match for us because we don't have the four-point lead anymore - and in view of next week too," Nagelsmann warned in his pre-match press conference. "We know we need to deliver and want to deliver. We want to show that from the beginning. We have to perform to our limit."

Bayern's single-goal margin of victory - which restored a one-point lead in the table - betrays the dominance Die Roten delivered against obdurate opponents. DSC may be ensconced in the division's relegation zone but they've let in as many goals as Bayern's closest domestic challengers so far this season - equalling Dortmund's 19 conceded.

Both of Bayern's previous Bundesliga defeats under Nagelsmann have come in the only two games they've dominated possession to such a suffocating extent (more than 70%) it becomes a part of the opposition's strategy.

The record champions went into Saturday's Topspiel fresh from such a contest, when they were afforded 79% possession by an Augsburg side that claimed a shock 2-1 triumph last weekend. Bielefeld sat in a similarly deep rearguard, allowing Bayern almost two-thirds of the ball as they lay perennially poised for a counter attack.

However, even without Joshua Kimmich's incision from deep, Bayern continued to rack up the chances. By the end of the game - aided admittedly by Musiala's introduction in the second half - Bayern had created opportunities worth 2.7 expected goals (xG) according to FotMob - a higher total than the tally they accrued across their last two matches combined.

The latest of those games was a far from commanding 2-1 Champions League win over Dynamo Kyiv in midweek. Bayern's past couple of fixtures, compounded by the historically shambolic 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Borussia Monchengladbach in late October, have taken some of the sheen of the blistering start Nagelsmann made to life in his native Bavaria.

Just days after fans booed their own board of directors at the club's annual general meeting, Bayern's players restored some order on the pitch with a commanding performance inaccurately captured by the scoreline.

Bring on Der Klassiker.


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