Forget El Clasico – Dortmund-Bayern is Europe's best rivalry now

Germany’s finest teams fought out a closely contested encounter at the Westfalenstadion and Saturday and Goal takes a look at the major talking points

By Enis Koylu

In many ways, the result of Borussia Dortmund’s clash with Bayern Munich at the Westfalenstadion was inconsequential. With the Bavarians’ title long since wrapped up and BVB near certain to finish in second, there was little to play for other than pride for both teams.

The eventual 1-1 draw was probably a fair reflection of proceedings but with the two teams set to meet again in three weeks’ time in the Champions League final, both will have been eager to shore up any deficiencies ahead of the big match. And Goal was on hand to assess the action.

This is Europe’s most intense rivalry right now

In the wake of the announcement of Mario Gotze’s transfer to Bayern, the two clubs have engaged in a very public war of words. Hans-Joachim Watzke’s assertion that he would not be happy to entertain the Bayern hierarchy at Dortmund was indicative of the tension between Germany’s finest.

And that spilled onto the pitch on Saturday. A total of five players picked up bookings after some robust tackles – and it was miraculous that only one saw red.

In the wake of Rafinha’s dismissal (for elbowing Jakub Blaszczykowski), Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer (a BVB legend) and Jurgen Klopp squared up to one another on the sidelines before being dragged apart by the referee. Thomas Muller and Felipe Santana later had a row on the pitch, as did Jerome Boateng and Robert Lewandowski as tensions threatened to boil over.

The world was waiting for a Clasico Champions League final but they’ve got something just as fiercely contested, if not more so.

Bayern have the edge in penalty shoot-outs

The old cliche that Germans will always have the edge in a penalty shoot-out has spawned a string of predictable jokes about the first-ever all-German Champions League final, but BVB have serious problems from the spot.

Bayern’s loss to Chelsea in a shoot-out last season certainly hurt their pride, but the likes of David Alaba, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez could all be called upon. BVB have no such luxury. Mats Hummels, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Gotze and Robert Lewandowski have all had their time as the designated penalty taker, but no one has shown himself to be reliable.

Lewandowski missed yet another spot kick and Manuel Neuer’s heroics in the Bayern goal will give his side confidence.

Ever-improving Sahin is giving Klopp a selection headache

Ilkay Gundogan’s substitution after less than 15 minutes would have had Dortmund hearts beating a lot faster but, in the Germany international’s absence, Nuri Sahin stepped up to the plate.

His fall from the top has been well documented over the last two years but, in a notably scrappy match, the Turkey star has was a calm, assured presence in midfield, picking many an incisive pass as he tried to swing the balance in his side’s favour.

At 24, Sahin is entering the prime of his career and his presence in the squad could give Klopp something to think about in the weeks and months to come, with his loan deal from Real Madrid not set to expire until next summer.

BVB can still overcome Bayern

Saturday’s match was – incredibly – only the second game Bayern have failed to win in 2013, the other being a clash with Arsenal when their progression in the Champions League was long assured thanks to a 3-1 away win in the first leg.

Dortmund’s brilliant record against Bayern was there for all to see but the Bavarians looked to have ended their hoodoo against the deposed champions with victories over them in the Pokal and Supercup earlier this season.

But BVB demonstrated that they are still capable of harming their rivals in a way no other team can seem to do and were it not for Lewandowski’s tame penalty, they’d have walked away with three points.

Bayern don’t need Lewandowski – they have Gomez

With Gotze’s move to Bayern already confirmed, speculation has been rife that Lewandowski could follow him to the Allianz Arena. Gomez, a proven striker of international class has been out in the cold this season but ably demonstrated his ability at Signal Iduna Park.

The former Stuttgart star still has an uncanny ability to find himself in the right place at the right time and his movement to get away from his marker for his equaliser was nothing short of fantastic.

Despite being relegated to the bench this term, he has scored over 100 goals in his last three seasons. Bayern should be careful about what they wish for before they consider selling him.<ad

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