A 2-0 win over Union Berlin in the capital saw Bayern Munich continue their winning ways last week as BuLi football returned, though an improvement on what was far from a world class display was vital as they welcomed Eintracht Frankfurt to Bavaria this weekend.
An eerily quiet afternoon in Bavaria wasn’t the reception Die Roten would’ve anticipated, nor wanted, but there was no choice but to play another Geisterspiel. Hans-Dieter Flick knew the importance of his team producing a statement performance, with Der Klassiker right around the corner.
Bayern began brilliantly, bombing forward at every opportunity and creating havoc for Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp. It was only a matter of time before FCB scored the opener.
And they did so in quite a beautiful fashion: Ivan Perišić let the ball run for Thomas Müller, Müller accelerated down the wing and pulled it back for Leon Goretzka, and Goretzka smashed the ball into the top corner with a ruthless finish to put the hosts in front. The lead was inevitable, but the quality of the goal remained astonishing.
Müller soon doubled their lead, though credit must go to Alphonso Davies for his delightful cross into the German’s feet. Robert Lewandowski added a third 45 seconds into the second half, seemingly the killer blow from the ruthless German giants.
While Bayern went on to add a fourth and fifth to see out the victory, there was a three-minute period that changed the dynamic of the game. Die Roten were the better side and deserved the three points, but for all of their beautiful attacking football, their overall performance wasn’t without blemishes.
Bayern were in control after their third, but suddenly, something went wrong.
They were playing brilliant attacking football, but for one second too many they got complacent and too comfortable. Before they knew it, Martin Hinteregger had pulled one back for Frankfurt out of nothing - it was a travesty that he had even had the opportunity to bare in on Bayern’s goal.
Before Bayern managed to regroup and react to the first, they conceded a second. Same situation, same culprit in Hinteregger, swooping past a static FCB defence to head past a hapless Manuel Neuer in goal. The German captain was furious, and rightly so. Bayern had conceded quick-fire goals to a centre-back, opening the match wide open.
Within nine minutes, Bayern had gone from cruising at 3-0 to fighting to protect a one-goal lead against the side 13th in the Bundesliga.
That is the point of concern ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Borussia Dortmund. If Frankfurt can take advantage of mistakes and score two goals to get back into the game, what are the attacking arsenal of Borussia Dortmund capable of doing if given the chance?
BVB are ruthless in the offensive third, and while Bayern know how to neutralise Lucien Favre’s side, one mistake and lapse in concentration could prove costly.
Erling Haaland will be a tough test for Bayern’s back four, combined with the pace and power of Jadon Sancho, Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard. That’s not to mention Dortmund’s electric full-backs, Achraf Hakimi and Raphaël Guerreiro, who could capitalise on one slip, one poor pass, one error.
It takes just one small mistake to completely change the game, and while the errors seen on Saturday didn’t cost them the win, they can certainly do that when Bayern meet one of the best teams in Germany, let alone in Europe. Flick needs to fix the flaws ahead of the derby, or else it will be his side that are on the wrong end of a thrashing.
While the mistakes were there and the goals were conceded, it shouldn’t take too much away from Bayern. They still put in an explosive performance, scoring five quality goals and once again proving why they have been the champions of Germany for seven straight years.
There’s work to be done, but we knew that already. After all, there’s a reason Bayern haven’t been running away with the title this season - because, believe it or not, this Bayern side is not without its flaws and weaknesses.
Saturday’s victory showed the best and worst of Bayern: their stunning attacking football, which can be quickly tarnished by defensive lethargy and complacent football. Nonetheless, they’re top of the table for a reason, and Tuesday’s Der Klassiker will define the remainder of the season for both halves of the derby divide.
13 league games unbeaten. 22 goals in their last six games. Six consecutive wins.
Bayern are ready for Der Klassiker.