When Joshua Kimmich’s hopeful chip nestled in the corner of Roman Bürki’s net, there was a sense of inevitability which rained down at Borussia Dortmund’s empty Westfalenstadion.
Lucien Favre’s side had been on top in Der Klassiker. So much so that Erling Haaland had a shot cleared off the line by Jérôme Boateng after just 30 seconds. Julian Brandt, Thorgan Hazard and Mo Dahoud had chances too, but Borussia Dortmund didn’t show the same level of ruthlessness in this final third as Bayern Munich.
In yet another Klassiker, and in fact in another Bundesliga season, it’s close but no cigar for the Black and Yellows.
Losing to Bayern Munich is far from crucial when it comes to Borussia Dortmund’s goals across the entire season. They only picked up one point from a possible six when they won the Bundesliga title in 2002 and in recent years it’s been their ‘mentality problems’ against Germany’s smaller teams which has cost them dearest.
But with just three wins against Bayern Munich in more than seven years, it’s clear Borussia Dortmund hit a stumbling block when it comes to Der Klassiker.
It’s not always a hurdle which comes down to quality. Certainly, in the Pep Guardiola era at Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund were second best. But now, there’s no clear difference in quality or depth when it comes to Germany’s two biggest clubs.
This isn’t a new problem for Borussia Dortmund. They struggle regardless of who’s standing in the dugout and who’s on the pitch, but this consistency problem in the biggest games is an issue the club have to get over sooner rather than later.
The good news? Next season could be crucial for them closing the gap with Bayern Munich for good.
Lucien Favre might not be at the club as he only has one year left on his contract, so making a managerial change will be as appealing as ever for the club’s key decision makers ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.
But it’s the financial implications of the coronavirus crisis which could force the club’s marquee players to stay put for another season.
Jadon Sancho had looked for all the world that he’d be returning to the Premier League this summer. Even Erling Haaland has been tipped to leave thanks to how quickly he’s adapted to life at Borussia Dortmund.
But with £100m+ transfers out of the question, Borussia Dortmund’s big name players might just stick around for a little while longer.
Of course, that will prove to be a massive boost for the club as far as quality is concerned. Sancho and Haaland are two of the most exciting players on the planet (in fact, they might already be two of the best) and they’ll start week in, week out for Borussia Dortmund.
But it will also be a boost when it comes to Dortmund’s impact against the biggest teams in the Bundesliga.
Sancho, Haaland and co will only get their big-money moves if they impress in the most important games, so having that mix of Borussia Dortmund regulars and individualistic players could turn out to be the antidote to an inferiority complex that crippled the club in recent years.
Borussia Dortmund have a tough pill to swallow as far as this season’s title race is concerned, and although it’s a line which fans have been religiously fed every year, bigger things really could be just around the corner this time around.