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Riveting clash in Dortmund leaves question of title race unanswered

Dortmund and Bayern drew 0-0, but the contest was a thrilling one between Germany's top two teams. The result certainly favors Bayern Munich, but there is no answer on how the title race will pan out, writes Liam Happe.

While the Bundesliga has been one of the world's most enjoyable top flights for quite some time now, the title race has been out of commission for three-and-a-half years. Ever since Jürgen Klopp brought two consecutive championships to Borussia Dortmund in 2011 and 2012, Bayern Munich have not only won every campaign, but have done so in devastatingly dominant fashion.

However midweek defeat for the domineering Bavarians at home to Mainz and victory for Dortmund created a seemingly impossible scenario of a comeback. Indeed, this season's second installment of the match billed as 'Der Klassiker' offered Dortmund the chance to move within two points of the league leaders with a victory at the Westfalenstadion.

So tantalizing was the prospect of the Bundesliga title actually being contested once more, fans and media from across the globe - including a large contingent of diehard Bundesliga fans from China - descended upon Dortmund for this top-of-the-table clash.

Justified hype

Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich is a fixture that generates buzz whatever the occasion or competition. The anticipation had clearly been amplified in Dortmund after the previous matchday offered the hosts their first clear shot at disrupting Bayern's league monopoly since their last triumph four years ago.

The home fans - the famed Südtribüne in particular which holds 25,000 fans - took their incredible support up a notch for the occasion, jeering the Bayern players for even having the audacity to come out and warm up before kick-off.

Dortmund started brightly and were optimistic that this game really was going to change the season. Thomas Tuchel's men were confident, determined and in-form, creating several chances early on with their counterattacking game looking particularly sharp.

The big question was whether Dortmund's defense could handle Bayern's attacking unit, and especially top scorer Robert Lewandowski. Mats Hummels was loose in possession and handed the champions several promising attacking situations.

Fussball Bundesliga 25. Spieltag Borussia Dortmund gegen FC Bayern Muenchen

Dortmund players acknowledge their fans after the game

Fantastic first-half

Fortunately for Thomas Tuchel's side, both Hummels and goalkeeper Roman Bürki recovered from shaky starts to defend superbly as Bayern turned up the heat after the first 25 minutes.

The game raged on without a break as two world-class attacking teams continued to find space but lack the necessary cutting edge to win it. Both makeshift defenses came close to capitulating at times, but grew resolute as the clock ticked.

The result will offer some consolation to Borussia Dortmund, who remain five points behind Bayern. The home fans pounded their chairs and squealed with frustration when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and substitute Adrian Ramos failed to make the most of big chances late on and when an otherwise quiet Marco Reus was denied by Joshua Kimmich's excellent interception.

To be continued

Thousands of hearts skipped a collective beat when Arturo Vidal's close-range strike from a poorly-defended corner kick had to be tipped onto the crossbar by Bürki and when Arjen Robben and Douglas Costa came within inches of grabbing a winner.

It came as no surprise in a game this tense that a man of Robben's guile and experience evolved into one of the key players. His positioning, vision and constant threat inside the final third made him the most likely deciding factor of a contest which in actual fact decided very little.

So, a title race which emerged from a three-year coma during the week did not leap to its feet come the end of it, nor was it put out of its misery just yet. An exciting, engrossing and intense 'Klassiker' offered a mere ‘to be continued' on the fate of league title, but did so in a goalless draw far more exciting than your standard 0-0 fare.

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