Bayern Munich ravaged Borussia Dortmund 5-0 to vault into the Bundesliga’s top spot.
Former Dortmund defender Mats Hummels opened the scoring, rising highest from Thiago’s corner to head home in the 10th minute.
The decibels inside the Allianz Arena went through the roof seven minutes later when Robert Lewandowski became just the fifth player to reach 200 goals in the German top flight with a fine strike.
More damage was inflicted before the break when Javi Martinez applied an exquisite finish after more poor Dortmund defending in the 41st minute.
And the rout continued two minutes after that when Serge Gnabry planted a firm header past helpless visiting goalkeeper Roman Burki.
The second-half was a stroll for the hosts but Lewandowski was able to tap in his second late on.
As you can imagine, the Dortmund defence has a lot to answer for and that’s where we begin the first of our three talking points from Der Klassiker.
This truly was a victory constructed by Dortmund. The first two goals were scored by former BVB stars – Hummels and Lewandowski – and all four first-half strikes were sourced from staggeringly dire Dortmund defending.
The goals were not even borne from technical deficiencies, but rather mental weakness. Collectively, Bayern growled from the first whistle, biting into tackles and hunting for the ball like frenzied animals.
Dortmund, conversely, were akin to a scrawny child passing by a guard dog, just completely intimidated.
The opener hallmarked this attitude. Thiago had already warned of his set-piece quality before the goal, but from the left, he swung another corner into a fairly central area and Hummels muscled Lukasz Piszczek off him to plant a header past Burki.
Bayern continued to wildly prowl and were rewarded with a second through maddening defending.
Dan-Axel Zagadou’s thoughtless square pass was eaten up by Lewandowski and the striker deliciously lifted the ball over the onrushing Burki before acrobatically volleying home.
It was the 30-year-old’s 200th goal in 248 Germany top-flight games and in the process he became the first player in Bundesliga history to score in five straight games against his former club.
He would later grab another yet before that, Dortmund displayed more tragic defending. Martinez hit a delightful crisp strike from the edge of the area but only after the visitors fell apart following Thiago’s clever clipped free-kick into the box.
And this was compounded minutes later when Akanji completely lost Gnabry at the back post for the winger to smash a header into the opposite corner.
These were all avoidable goals but that’s been the narrative of Dortmund in 2019.
TITLE RACE NOT OVER… YET
On the fact of it, Bayern are only a point ahead of Lucien Favre’s men with 64 points and they must still navigate a tricky trip to Leipzig and face Eintracht Frankfurt in two of their remaining six games.
Dortmund on the other hand face five teams in lower-mid table with not much to play for and so are not out of this just yet.
However, momentum becomes a hugely important currency in the final stages of a title race and that is a commodity Bayern have now enriched themselves with.
Undoubtedly, this was their best performance of the season. Every player seemed gripped by a primitive desire to bully their challengers.
Individually, they effectively headlocked their opponent, completely strangling any influence to create a collective demonstration of strength.
Granted, there was plenty of finesse, reflected in the way Thiago stroked the ball around with ease and in the beautiful finishing of Lewandowski and Martinez.
But this was a performance of pure will to force the balance of power in their favour. The destination of the title looks to be ominously heading to Bavaria, and on the basis of Bayern’s 2019 form – Niko Kovac’s outfit have dropped points twice in 11 games since the turn of the year, contrasted to Dortmund surrendering victory in five fixtures – they would deserve it.
LEWANDOWSKI ON A MISSION
The perceived wisdom is that by his extraordinary standards, 2018/19 has witnessed a drop off in Lewandowski.
While he is top scorer in both the Bundesliga (21) and Champions League (eight), his ineffectual displays against Liverpool in the last-16 encouraged criticism of an elite scorer who fails to produce in the big games.
In Germany, there is no bigger contest than Der Klassiker, though, and it is here Lewandowski always delivers.
The Poland international seemed to absorb all that criticism and use it to vapourise Dortmund.
He had twice as many shots (eight) as the entire Dortmund team combined and scored two goals emblematic of his time in Germany – an immaculate opener followed by a predatory tap-in.
Lewandowski was on a mission to remind the watching world of his status as one of the best No9s on the planet. He completed it with a display of undeniable determination, poise and skill.
Lucien Favre’s side were humbled as the reining six-time Bundesliga champions cemented their status as the undisputed kings of German football with a supreme 5-0 performance.
Four of the goals were scored in the opening 45 minutes as first Mats Hummels nodded them in front from Thiago Alcantara’s corner. It was 2-0 seven minutes later when Robert Lewandowski pounced on Dan-Axel Zagadou’s awful pass to chip and volley in. It was game over in three minutes before the interval when Javi Martinez stroked in to make it three before Thomas Muller’s delicate cross was nodded in by Serge Gnabry.
With the game won, the second half was a procession, Lewandowski tapping in Gnabry’s path at the death to seal a five-star performance.
It was a classic performance in Der Klassiker from Bayern. Here’s how their players rated:
BAYERN MUNICH (4-2-3-1)
Manuel Neuer – 6: Arguably the quietest game he’s had all season – he would not have been expecting this at all. A bystander.
Joshua Kimmich – 7: Flawless display, completely untroubled after early move down his side might have led to Dortmund opener. Supported Gnabry confidently.
Niklas Sule – 7: Rifled one effort over the bar as he did as much attacking as defending, cruising through the game. Three aerials won.
Mats Hummels – 7: Dortmund didn’t heed early warning when he flashed a header wide, then nodded the hosts in front. Utterly dominant in the air.
David Alaba – 6: Nullified the threat of BVB dangerman Sancho, so much so the teenager was switched to the left.
Javi Martinez – 8: Rolled back the years with a calm and composed performance. Finish for the killer third was sublime.
Thiago Alcantara – 9: The glue that patched a perfect Bayern performance together. Swung in corner that Hummels made it 1-0 from, six key passes and three interceptions led his side.
Serge Gnabry – 9: Gleefully toyed with and teased Dortmund’s fragile back-line, ghosting behind to nod in the fourth. Never stopped running, teeing up Lewandowski’s second. Three key passes.
Thomas Muller – 8: This was vintage Bayern, and vintage Muller. Created chaos that led to Martinez’s third and then floated in a delightful cross for Gnabry to nod in number four. Three key passes, second only to Thiago.
Kingsley Coman – 7: Frenchman had a field day down the left flank, his quick feet causing a multitude of problems. Hamstring pull forced him off.
Robert Lewandowski – 9: 200th Bundesliga goal just had to come against his former employers. Calmness personified as he chipped Burki and volleyed home. Second, a tap-in, was least he deserved.
Franck Ribery – 6: Came on and busied himself, but game was long out of Dortmund’s reach.
Leon Goretzka N/A: Routine appearance. Job was to keep possession and he enjoyed a 100 per cent pass accuracy.
Renato Sanches N/A: Afforded the excellent Muller a standing ovation. Dispossessed twice in his 11 minutes.
Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac felt his side played with “zest” and “verve” and were deserved 6-0 winners against Mainz.
There was no Champions League hangover for Bayern as they returned to the top of the Bundesliga table in emphatic style on Sunday.
James Rodriguez scored a hat-trick while Robert Lewandowski, Kingsley Coman and Alphonso Davies were also on the scoresheet for the reigning champions as they bounced back from their midweek home defeat to Liverpool.
The win, Bayern’s 13th in their last 14 league games, saw Kovac’s team move back above rivals Borussia Dortmund on goal difference at the summit.
“A compliment to the lads. We’re pleased we’re at the top again. We saw a lot of zest today, a whole lot of verve, very many good moves,” Kovac told the club’s official website.
“Taken altogether it was a deserved win and the right margin of victory. Now we can work calmly and with focus in the two-week international break.”
Thomas Muller, one of five changes Kovac made to the side that were knocked out of the Champions League four days ago, emphasised the importance of Bayern bouncing back quickly – especially after Dortmund’s injury-time win 24 hours previously.
He said: “We absolutely wanted to turn in a good display, we had ambitious plans after Wednesday. We wanted to take our chances and strike back.
“Dortmund did their homework yesterday evening. I’m glad we got into the game so well. We were clearly superior from the start. The way we played was just fun, we were flexible and exploited the space well.
“It was important to improve our goal difference in the last three matches. The table is looking better than in the first half of the season of course.”
Mainz became the second successive side to lose 6-0 at the Allianz Arena in the Bundesliga, following Wolfsburg last weekend.