Dortmund can dethrone Bayern and make the Bundesliga competitive again
ROB DRAPER: Bellingham is poised to get his fairytale farewell and Haller can complete the story of the season… Dortmund are just ONE win away from making Bundesliga a competition again
- Borussia Dortmund hold a two-point advantage over Bayern Munich in the table
- A win against Mainz on Saturday will seal their first league title in 11 years
- A Dortmund triumph would signal that the Bundesliga is a competition again
Jude Bellingham is doubtful with a knee injury but he will surely be on the pitch on Saturday against Mainz.
Sébastien Haller, remembered with mixed feelings by West Ham fans, is on course to complete perhaps the story of the season. Mats Hummels was there the last time they did it in 2012 and will be at the heart of defence as the Westfalenstadion, which we sadly have to call Signal Iduna Park, urges them on.
Maybe even Jurgen Klopp, Erling Haaland, Ilkay Gundogan and Jadon Sancho will take some time out from training to keep an eye on proceedings.
Just when we thought the Bundesliga had ceased to function as an actual competition, Borussia Dortmund have awoken and stand poised to win the title, their first since Klopp won it in 2011 and 2012, which in turn were their first wins since 2002.
Ever since that last Klopp triumph, Dortmund and the rest of Germany have had to watch Bayern Munich win every Bundesliga. Ten whole years have passed since anyone overcame them. A whole generation of children have grown up knowing nothing other than red ribbons on the trophy.
Jude Bellingham is struggling with a knee problem but will surely return to try and inspire his side to the Bundesliga title this weekend
What is even more discombobulating is that Bayern Munich, usually so cold-eyed, completely flunked the penultimate hurdle.
One-nil up against RB Leipzig at the Allianz Arena last weekend, a win that would have kept the outcome of the title in their hands, they conceded a ridiculous counter attack goal from a corner.
Like a team of nine years old, they disregarded the convention of having defenders hang back in case their opponents were to win the ball back. Then they conceded two penalties for a 3-1 defeat.
Not that you could have any real faith in Dortmund capitalising, despite that blunder by Bayern. They have proved adept at failing to take opportunities to consolidate their advantage.
Back in April, taking a one-point lead to a Bayern team in disarray, having just sacked Julian Nagelsmann and appointed Thomas Tuchel, Dortmund completely capitulated in the title show down.
They conceded within 13 minutes, keeper Gregor Kobel air kicking as a long clearance rolled into the net and then were 3-0 down in 23 minutes. That felt like the title done and dusted, a decisive momentum shift, with Tuchel having got Bayern back on track.
Dortmund looked to have blown their chance at the title but Bayern feel to a shock 3-1 defeat at home to RB Leipzig on Saturday
Thomas Tuchel has not had the desired impact since replacing Julian Nagelsmann in March
Yet Dortmund were presented with another chance to get ahead in the game, when Bayern lost at Mainz. They took on lowly Bochum the following Friday but only managed a 1-1 draw.
They were on the wrong end of a terrible decision not to award a penalty when Karim Adeyemi was clattered to the ground by Danilo Soares. The crucial point was that Bayern resumed their lead at the top of the table.
So it was by no means a guarantee that Dortmund would sweep Augsburg aside away from home after that Bayern defeat on Saturday.
Yet, even without Bellingham, they did so, with Haller scoring the goal that ended the home side’s resistance on 58 minutes and then getting a second in a 3-0 win.
Having been diagnosed with testicular cancer in July, shortly after joining from Ajax, and having undergone two surgeries and chemotherapy to remove the tumour, his contribution this season has been extraordinary. Nine goals and three assists in 18 matches have partially filled the Haaland sized hole in the team.
For Bellingham, this could be the culmination of one of the smartest moves in football, when he left Birmingham City at the age of 16 to further his football education at Dortmund, rightly concluding that he would get a better balance of game time and competitiveness in the Bundesliga than sitting on the bench at a big six Premier League club. If this is to be his last moment before to Real Madrid, then what a moment it could prove to be.
His contribution too has also been remarkable. You just get used to the fact that, at 19, he is the team’s leader, driving them on with vital goals in recent weeks against Eintracht Frankfurt, Wolfsburg and Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Haller had to undergo chemotherapy and two surgeries after being diagnosed with a tumour
He has since returned to the team in 2023 and fired them towards the Bundesliga title
You want your big players to step up when the pressure is on and Bellingham just rises naturally to those occasions. No doubt that is why Florentino Perez sees him as a born Real Madrid player.
It’s of course not over until the large Viking soprano delivers her 20-minute aria in Richard’s Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. Or, to put it in layman’s terms, until the fat lady sings. But surely Dortmund won’t throw away this opportunity?
Bayern’s Thomas Muller was playing mind games, invoking the famous finale of the 2000-01 season, when Schalke fans invaded the pitch in celebration, thinking they had won the league – this was an unimaginable age before 5G mobile coverage – having beaten Unterhaching 5-3, while Bayern trailed at Hamburg.
Yet with Bayern being the footballing equivalent of the Death Star, there was an inevitable sting in the tale, Patrick Andersson scoring an injury time equaliser to win the title.
All those Dortmund hurts over the years – that 2013 Champions League final defeat to Bayern, those Robert Lewandowski and Mario Götze transfers, Oliver Kahn’s kung-fu kick on Stephane Chapusiert – might just be healed if Dortmund can just beat Mainz on Saturday. And the Bundesliga might feel like a competition again.
When Heidi Klum turns against you, your time is up. According to our colleagues at Bild, the German supermodel attended the 3-1 defeat to RB Leipzig and enjoyed the corporate hospitality before posting Instagram a video of CEO Oliver Kahn.
Klum’s hot take: ‘Is this the last time we see him? I don’t know…..’ She then pronounced on sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, saying: ‘Hasan should go….oops! Did I say that? Sorry!’
Tuesday May 30th is the crucial day as far as those two are concerned when Bayern’s supervisory board, where vice deputy chairman Uli Hoeneß is still regarded as the dominant patriarch, meets with the football club, board before deciding what must be done.
A season without a trophy requires someone to blame and Thomas Tuchel was only appointed in March, so one of the above will doubtless have to volunteer to be sacked.
Heidi Klum joked that Hasan Salihamidzic should leave after Bayern’s disappointing campaign
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