Mkhitaryan: Bayern win has lifted our heads

The Armenian forward has predicted a surge in confidence after they secured a comprehensive win, believing they have already put their Champions League exit behind them

Henrikh Mkhitaryan believes Borussia Dortmund’s impressive win over Bayern Munich on Saturday has given them an edge in securing second spot.

The Armenian striker opened the scoring at the Allianz Arena on 20 minutes, with Marco Reus and Jonas Hofmann adding to the visitors’ tally as they earned a 3-0 win against the newly-crowned champions.

Die Schwarzgelben have tightened their grip on the Bundesliga runners-up position, extending their lead over Schalke to three points, and Mkhitaryan hailed the positive impact the result could have after losing to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals.

“We are very, very happy because it was a very difficult match and we have defended second place against Schalke,” the 25-year-old was quoted in Der Western.

“It’s hard to describe how happy I am to have made the 1-0. It was very important that we defended well, scored the first goal and then in the second half could concentrate on the counter attack.

“After the match against Real Madrid, I was annoyed about the missed chances. But that’s football – it just goes on. And now our heads are up again.”

The Armenian’s sentiment was echoed by fellow goalscorer Marco Reus, believing that BVB have done themselves credit after the disappointment of being knocked out of the Champions League.

“We could only play the way we did today,” the German winger said.

“We have done very well especially in the first half and took our chances very well. For us it was important that we attacked early and took the ball far forward. Then it’s not so far in front of goal, which was, I think, today the key to success. This week has brought us absolutely to the front.”

Dortmund are second in Bundesliga with 61 points from 30 games, three ahead of Schalke.

Guardiola: I may have made a mistake against Dortmund

The Spanish coach conceded that his side were not at their best as they fell to a comprehensive defeat on Saturday, but refused to blame squad rotation for the loss

Pep Guardiola was keen to take a portion of the blame after Borussia Dortmund ran out surprisingly comfortable winners over Bayern Munich on Saturday.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan struck in the first half for die Schwarzgelben, with Marco Reus and Jonas Hofmann both adding goals after the break, as the visitors took a 3-0 win at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern have now picked up only a single point in the three top-flight games they have played since securing the Bundesliga title at Hertha Berlin last month and Guardiola admitted that they are suffering a decided dip in form.

“Congratulations to Borussia Dortmund but during the first half we didn’t find our game,” the 43-year-old was quoted by TZ.

“And during the second half we also lost something. We have up to now been a very good team defensively and we have not shown that today.

“It may be that I have made a mistake, that it was a mistake not to continue as we have been. But I will not take squad rotation as an excuse.”

The Bavarians still have the chance to repeat the treble-winning success of last season, with a DFB-Pokal and Champions League semi-finals against Kaiserslauten and Real Madrid respectively to look forward to, and sporting director Matthias Sammer played down the defeat.

“We had a bit of trouble with the rhythm, with the build-up play and have never made the right decisions,” he said.

“But it’s no big deal. We were not concentrated enough at key stages and let Dortmund in. If two, three percent is missing from our ideas, then it is not enough in the Bundesliga.

“But our players are not robots and have feelings too.”

Klopp hails 'near-perfect' Dortmund

BVB have been second best by some distance in the Bundesliga this term but were dominant winners at the Allianz Arena on Saturday

Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp lauded his “near-perfect” team following their 3-0 demolition of Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

Dortmund outplayed their hosts throughout Saturday’s clash at the Allianz Arena, with Klopp’s decision to leave Bayern-bound top scorer Robert Lewandowski on the bench proving something of a masterstroke.

The high defensive line employed by Bayern boss Pep Guardiola was ruthlessly exposed by the pace and movement of Dortmund’s attacking quartet of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marco Reus, Jonas Hofmann – all of whom scored – and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The result – Bayern’s first home league defeat since October 2012 – restores Dortmund’s three-point advantage over rivals Schalke in second place.

And Klopp was thrilled with his side’s performance, as they responded perfectly after the disappointment of being knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid and laid down a marker ahead of a potential DFB-Pokal final against Bayern.

“If you beat Munich 3-0, you can really speak of a near-perfect game,” said the 46-year-old, who was taking charge of his 200th Bundesliga game with Dortmund.

Klopp went on to hail the contribution of Mkhitaryan, who spurned numerous chances against Real but was clinical in opening the scoring on Saturday.

“I think scoring will have done Mkhitaryan a lot of good – sometimes it’s like he’s carrying a heavy rucksack (after the disappointment of the Real game),” he added.

“We’re now focusing on reaching the cup final. Once we’re there, it doesn’t matter who we play.”

Guardiola philosophical after Bayern defeat

The Spaniard says he is not surprised his side have suffered a loss of form since retaining their league title

Pep Guardiola was philosophical after watching his Bayern Munich slip to a 3-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund, insisting their slump in form was “expected”.

The champions have now taken just one point from three top-flight matches since retaining their crown at Hertha Berlin last month.

Guardiola’s side had dropped just four points all season prior to their coronation in the capital, but drew 3-3 with Hoffenheim and lost 1-0 at Augsburg before this weekend’s humbling at the hands of second-placed Dortmund.

“When you win the title, you suffer a dip,” said the Spaniard.

“It was the same for me at Barcelona. Now we have to get back (to our previous form).”

Bayern were lacklustre throughout Saturday’s contest, as Dortmund’s front four of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marco Reus and Jonas Hofmann – Robert Lewandowski started on the bench – caused the back four all sorts of problems.

“Congratulations to Dortmund,” Guardiola added.

“We didn’t get into our rhythm today and we were unable to score.”

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was withdrawn at the break after complaining of discomfort in his calf, but the Germany number one was quick to insist he will be fit for Wednesday’s DFB-Pokal semi-final against Kaiserslautern.

“I went off as a precaution but I can play in the cup in during the week,” he said. 

Klopp shows Ancelotti Bayern blueprint

The Bavarians’ defensive frailities were exposed by the pace of Jurgen Klopp’s front four, which will no doubt be of interest to their Champions League semi-final opponents

By Peter Staunton

Bayern Munich’s league form has dipped considerably since winning the Bundesliga on March 25 against Hertha Berlin, with Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund extending their title hangover to two defeats and a draw.

The last time they were beaten by a three-goal margin was at the end of the 2011-12 season when Dortmund embarrassed them in the DFB Pokal final. They have now fallen 1-0 behind in their last five games, having previously not been on a run of conceding goals like this since 2001.

There is only so much allowance that can be made for Bayern’s poor performances in light of winning the Bundesliga. They are suffering an alarming pattern of negative results and it is not easy to simply switch on the habit of winning as they will need to do in the Champions League.

There was much more to this BVB win than Bayern simply not being bothered. Jurgen Klopp prepared his side better than any of Bayern’s opponents this season for a one-off game. His game plan was then executed perfectly. Of course we will never know whether or not Dortmund would have won this game with anything riding on it, but on this evidence Klopp might just have Pep Guardiola’s number.

If Carlo Ancelotti happened to be paying attention, he will have discovered a formula for beating Bayern ahead of the Champions League semi-finals. It was built on a bedrock of stout defending, firm concentration and valour when chances to attack presented themselves.

Dortmund scarcely placed a player in the centre-forward position once all evening. There were barely any crosses to speak of because Dortmund never sought to put pressure on Bayern in that area.

Instead, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Marco Reus played mostly in the middle third. Aubameyang stretched the Bayern backline, popping up on both flanks, and his searing pace out wide was the focal point of Dortmund’s rampaging counter-attacks. Real have similar weapons.

Reus, instead, operated as an extra midfielder. He ensured that Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger struggled to construct purposeful possession. Admittedly, Reus is a player whose attributes or form cannot be imitated easily. But in Isco, Madrid do possess an attacking midfielder with imagination, dribbling skills and finishing ability.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan played in the centre when Dortmund did not have the ball and looked to release his forwards with his clever passes. He was rewarded for a diligent display with a goal.

There was unquestionable bravery in Dortmund’s attacking play despite their scant possession of the ball. That is something Manchester United did not do over two legs in the quarter-finals, but will have emboldened Real, whose defence cannot be relied upon for a clean sheet.

Dortmund preyed on Bayern’s inattentiveness with quick throw-ins and free-kicks – one of which yielded the opener. When they attacked they did so in big numbers and that is something that will be second nature to Real Madrid.

Jonas Hofmann’s goal resulted from a long ball which missed out Bayern’s midfield area altogether. It punished the champions’ ultra-high defensive line. With capable long passers like Xabi Alonso and willing runners from deep like Angel Di Maria, Madrid can unsettle Bayern’s ponderous defenders like Dortmund did on Saturday.

This match also proved that BVB can cope with life after Robert Lewandowski. A central striker like the Poland international would have impeded this type of strategy from the outset – which was winning football against the best team in Europe.

Ancelotti, take note.