Borussia Dortmund secured the first silverware of the new German season and gave an early warning to Bayern Munich that they are ready to provide much tougher competition this time around with a 2-0 victory over their rivals in the DFL Supercup. Playing in front of a passionate full house in their own Westfalenstadion, Dortmund were sharper than and superior to the Bundesliga champions for almost the entire contest. They made their dominance count with a goal in each half through Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
It was a contest which illustrated that Germany’s World Cup win, featuring seven Bayern players, has undoubtedly had a negative impact on Pep Guardiola’s preparations for the new season. Indeed, only Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller of that septet started the fixture, while Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben were also missing and Javi Martinez went off early on with a serious looking knee injury. But Jurgen Klopp can rightly counter that he, too, as he was for most of last season, was without a host of key names, including new captain Mats Hummels and Marco Reus.
Unquestionably it was Dortmund which appeared better geared up for the start of the new Bundesliga season in just over a week’s time. The familiar pressing from those in yellow left Bayern bewildered as Klopp’s men came out on top of their rivals for the second season running in the Supercup. For a side that finished 19 points behind Bayern last season, the win was also a statement of their abilities to offer a closer challenge despite the loss to Bayern of key man Robert Lewandowski.
As fate would have it, the Polish striker made his competitive debut against the side he has just departed on a free transfer. Yet, despite being one of the few Bayern stars to have enjoyed a full preseason, the often isolated front man struggled to make any impact. It was, though, a fairly bright start for Guardiola’s side. A mistake from Lukasz Piszczek allowed Xherdan Shaqiri in for a shot that the otherwise largely untested Mitchell Langerak, filling in for Roman Weidenfeller, was forced to parry to safety.
After a decent opening spell for Bayern, Dortmund began to take control. It was the trademark intense pressing of Klopp’s men that became the match’s dominant factor as Bayern struggled to establish their short passing game out of the back in the face of a swarm of yellow shirts. There was an early opportunity for the man with the task of replacing Lewandowski this season, Ciro Immobile, but he fired wide from 20 yards after David Alaba became one of a number of Bayern players to cough up possession deep inside their own half.
Further discomfort came for Bayern when Manuel Neuer was left to scramble back and desperately clear Javi Martinez’s backpass off his own goalline. In the 23rd minute, Neuer’s defenses were breached as Dortmund made their superiority count. The most impressive performer in the first half, Mkhitaryan began the move and finished it, first gliding with pace and exquisite balance past the challenge of the overmatched young Bayern midfielder Gianluca Gaudino. Mkhitaryan’s pass intended for Aubameyang was cut out by David Alaba, but the Austrian, playing in an unfamiliar left-sided center-back role, could do little else and the ball came back to the Armenian midfielder who lashed an unstoppable shot past Neuer.
Bayern Munich were lucky to be only a goal down at the break. Neuer was overworked in twice denying the man who recently stepped down as Dortmund captain, Sebastian Kehl, as well as a fierce effort from Jonas Hofmann. At half time Guardiola attempted to bring more composure to his midfield by bringing on the man who lifted the World Cup trophy in Brazil as captain, Philipp Lahm. But, after Lewandowski was prevented from capitalizing on his one chance of the contest when Langerak raced from his goal, it was more of the same in the second half.
The man who controversially left Dortmund for Bayern a year ago, Mario Götze, had just been brought on to a cacophony of boos, despite his World-Cup-winning goal, when his former club doubled their lead. The back three Guardiola opted for looked all at sea to allow Piszczek to put in a good cross from the right and Aubameyang to find space ahead of Boateng in the center of the box before directing a header low past Neuer.
The speedy Gabon forward pulled out his trademark Spider-Man mask in celebration and his side continued to spin a web over Bayern for the remainder of the Supercup. Bayern’s only solace is that the result could have been far more emphatic in their opponent’s favor, and they will hope to have far more cohesiveness when they take on lower-league Preußen Münster in the DFL-Pokal on Sunday and then host Wolfsburg when the Bundesliga season gets underway next Friday.