LEAGUES

Kimmich's craft leaves cautious Bayern on the brink of title as Davies delights again

6 months ago
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Bayern Munich moved seven points clear in the Bundesliga thanks to a Klassiker victory, with Joshua Kimmich and Alphonso Davies impressing.

In the eerie quiet of Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday, the joyous yells of Bayern Munich players will have been more noticeable than ever.

With no crowd noise to drown them out, Bayern players screamed in celebration as they beat Borussia Dortmund for a second time in 2019-20, the shouts echoing around BVB's iconic home as Die Roten effectively sealed an eight successive title.

The build-up to Der Klassiker was dominated by talk of what the contest meant for the Bundesliga crown, and the consensus was failure to win would doom Dortmund's hopes.

Even sporting director Michael Zorc acknowledged this in the pre-match news conference on Monday: "If we want to keep competing for the title, we have to win the match. It's as simple as that."

Dortmund's start suggested that was the exact line Lucien Favre put across to his players before the match – they began with real verve and purpose, Erling Haaland having an effort cleared off the line by Jerome Boateng inside the first 40 seconds.

A continuously notable element of a gripping first period was the quality of the hosts' build-up play, with Julian Brandt, Mahmoud Dahoud and Thorgan Hazard playing some fine football between them.

But the final pass was too often found wanting, with Hazard and Brandt culpable on two particular occasions when the right ball would have surely left Haaland with a simple finish.

Bayern's cautious set-up in the first half probably contributed to Dortmund being in the ascendancy, but Hansi Flick's starting XI contained the right balance to allow them to be both solid at the back and still a threat in attack.

Joshua Kimmich and Alphonso Davies encapsulated that perfectly, with the latter in particular producing yet another gutsy display.

The story of the Canada international's season is well-documented – he's gone from being a back-up winger, to left-back cover to arguably the most exciting attacking full-back in the world.

All of his immense qualities were on display again on Tuesday.

Given his lack of experience in the position, there have still been those questioning his defensive capabilities, but it's difficult to see how any such subjects will be discussed with any real vigour after this.

Up against Davies, Achraf Hakimi struggled to have the sort of influence he has become accustomed to in the right wing-back role for Dortmund, failing to create a single chance, while Hazard simply wasn't good enough to exploit any occasions it looked like he might get the better of the 19-year-old.

Even Erling Haaland got to experience the full ferocity of Davies' pace and power, as the former Vancouver Whitecaps talent darted back with remarkable speed in the first half to deny the Norwegian a certain goal.

But then he also showcased his ability going forward, one mazy run seeing him somehow slalom through a crowd of four players, before eventually running into the Yellow Wall that was Mats Hummels, who didn't deserve to be on the losing side.

But he was, once again, against his former team, the effortlessly classy Kimmich proving decisive.

In a moment of real frenzy, with the ball pinging off Bayern players just outside the box late in the first period, the German produced an incredibly composed finish that seemed to stop time – his intricate chip looping over Roman Burki and finding the net with a little help from the goalkeeper's hand.

At the base of Bayern's midfield he was typically influential, his 104 touches of the ball more than any other Bayern player.

Kimmich also attempted more passes (81) than the rest of his team-mates, completing 89 per cent of them, while defensively he was astute, making three clearances, two interceptions and eight ball recoveries.

On top of all that, he ran 13.75km during the match, the most by any Bayern player in a Bundesliga match since Opta began recording such data in 2013-14.

Dortmund threw bodies forward towards the end, but there was a hopeless, aimless nature to their attacks once Haaland – their focal point – had been forced off with an apparent injury.

BVB had been urged to cut loose before the match, embrace the occasion and take the game to Bayern. While one can argue they did, Flick wisely recognised his side had more to lose and his team's mentality reflected that.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, and Bayern once again got the better of Dortmund, a fact that will now surely be reflected in the final standings as Flick's men went seven points clear.

From an optimist's perspective, Dortmund's squad is young and, should they manage to keep it mostly intact, trophies will surely come their way – potentially even Bundesliga titles.

But Kimmich and Davies could be dominating Der Klassiker for the next 10 years, and given their level at this point, that is a frightening thought.

At least there will likely be some crowd noise to drown out their celebrations next time.

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