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Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund: Nit-pick if you want, they’re perfect through two rounds

Aug 18, 2013, 10:59 PM EDT


We’ve never stopped to consider the standard of soccer Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund left us with in last year’s UEFA Champions League final. We need to talk about this. Not only was that one of the most well-played Champions League finals in the tournament’s (admittedly short) history, but it gave us two-and-a-half months to dwell. And with each side going out and adding to their squad this summer, we’ve been left to imagine their potential heights.

Bayern not only added Mario Götze and Thiago Alcantera, they also lured Pep Guardiola out of his New York hiatus. Yet we seem to be over it. If the Miami Heat replaced Eric Spoelstra with Phil Jackson, we’d stop talking about that … ever?

And while BVB lost Götze and Felipe Santana, they added Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (hat trick, opening day), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (tons of goals for Shakhtar Donetsk), and will have a full year from recent Bundesliga Player of the Year Nuri Sahin. Seriously, why aren’t we still talking about this? It wasn’t unreasonable to think either (or both) of these teams could improve on last year’s quality, even if regression makes that unlikely.

Allow me to answer my own question. Why aren’t we talking about how good Bayern and Dortmund are? Because seeing them actually play is kind of important, and through two rounds of the German season, amazing hasn’t happened,

Even though both are perfect through two rounds, we’ve yet to see either team fire on all cylinders. Yes, from a certain perspective, Bayern Munich’s 1-0, Saturday win at Eintracht Frankfurt was convincing, controlling 70 percent of possession and more than doubling their hosts’ shots on goal (7-3). But there was also a feeling that they could find the second goal they (ultimately never) needed to kill off the game. Fortunately for them, Mario Mandzukic’s 13th minute opener held up, but the 2012-13 Bayern Munich is not impressed.

Borussia Dortmund played a similar game — a dominating performance that sent Braunschweig home with a 2-1 loss — but held without a goal for 75 minutes, they hardly overwhelmed a team that spent last year in the second division. Without Ilkay Gundogan, one of the league’s best players who was injured mid-week while on duty with German, BVB often lacked an element of decisiveness in possession. Keeping dynamo Marco Reus out for an hour didn’t help. After he came on for Jakub Blaszczykowski and Jonas Hofmann was brought on for Aubamenyang (15 minutes later), BVB scored twice in the final half hour.

It says something for the heights these clubs have attained that even winning performances can elicit curiosity. It’s not enough that they win. It’s not enough that they do so convincingly. As is the case when Real Madrid aren’t in high gear or Chelsea’s performance is merely controlling, not dominant, Bayern and BVB’s imperfections give us pause. Even though we know every match can’t end 7-0, but we’re left wondering why these engines aren’t purring.

Step back, look a the bigger picture, and you see Borussia Dortmund’s at the top of the league. Imperfections and all. Bayern, also 2-0-0, is only two spots behind them. Bayer Leverkusen, who used a Daniel Schwaab own goal to post a 1-0 win at Stuttgart, sits in between, while Mainz (2-1 win at Freiburg) and Werder Bremen (1-0 win vs. Augsburg) are the Bundesliga’s other perfect teams.

So they’ll be fine. In all likelihood, one of Dortmund and Bayern will win the league, and we’ll again be wondering the extent to which these two clubs have distanced themselves from the pack (save us, Sami Hyypia!). For now, however, we nit-pick.

Of particular note: Hamburg’s off to another bad start, with one point and a -4 goal difference through two games. This week, however, the implications of their 5-1 home loss will be overshadowed by Firmino, a 21-year-old attacker who played a part of Hoffenheim’s five goals.

Here is the Brazilian scoring Hoffenheim’s first and last while setting up the middle three, with only Rafael van der Vaart’s early conversion from the spot breaking up his (and Hoffenheim’s) perfect day:

  1. ndnut - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:02 AM

    We aren’t talking about this because the Bundesliga has the worst possible tv contract they could have in the U.S. Since NBC took the EPL, I expect Fox or ESPN to pick them up.

  2. speedsterofbeantown - Aug 19, 2013 at 1:14 AM

    Why aren’t we talking about this? Because NBC Sports Network doesn’t carry the Bundesliga, or the Champions League.

    FC Bayern München has been in the Champions League Final three of the last four years. The streak that they had to go on for the Bundesliga to even resemble La Liga was astronomical. They still possess one of the greatest forwards ever in Gerhard Müller, and four players made the top ten in UEFA Player Of The Year.

    Why aren’t you talking about it? Ask your editors, not us.

    • Richard Farley - Aug 19, 2013 at 1:23 AM

      In a year-and-a-half of this blog’s existence, we have done over 400 posts that feature the word “Bayern.”

      That’s about five posts per week that address Bayern Munich …

      Which is how we know Gerhard Müller typically goes by Gerd.

      • nussdorferac - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:53 AM

        Indeed. I have enjoyed the coverage here of the Bundesliga. It’s better than what some other sites have.

  3. ndnut - Aug 19, 2013 at 2:11 AM

    The website isn’t the problem Richard. GolTV is the problem. I don’t blame you guys in any way. As a young soccer fan, I have only heard stories about “Soccer Made in Germany.” if something as simple as that could be restarted on the new FS1, ESPN, or even NBCSN, there would be a lot more chatter about German soccer in general.

  4. nussdorferac - Aug 19, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    1) That is pretty awful to compare Jupp Heynckes to Spolestra and Guardiola to Phil Jackson. Wouldn’t the analog fit better the other way around? What Heynckes just did with Bayern last season is greater than any season Guardiola put together with Barca. The cap, of course, was beating Barca 7-0 in CL.

    2) It’s early and each club is still finding their way.

    3) Both clubs had a significant number of players play mid-week against Paraguay (incidentally, Gundogan was hurt before the int’l game, but aggravated it during the game).

    4) Mkhitaryan played his first game in over a month coming off an ankle injury.

    • Richard Farley - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      Jupp Heynckes’s name doesn’t appear once in the post, man.

      • nussdorferac - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:10 PM

        You did compare Pep Guardiola joining Bayern to Phil Jackson replacing Spolestra. That would make Heynckes the Spolestra of the analog. It seems you are being a bit disingenuous about this.

        I understand the idea behind the analog, I mostly was trying to point out how remarkable Bayern were last year. Heynckes deserves the praise.

      • Richard Farley - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:22 PM

        All I was saying is that a super famous, successful coach going to a super famous, championship team should be more discussed. I intentionally left Heynckes’s name out.

      • nussdorferac - Aug 20, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        Thanks for the clarification.

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