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.
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