Dortmund lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich and once again failed to capitalise on a good start and a fantastic home crowd. There has to be more from BVB if they are to challenge at the top again, says DW's Jonathan Harding.
For all of the anticipation surrounding this fixture and Borussia Dortmund's early ferocity, it was more of the same from Klopp's men on Saturday night at Signal Iduna Park.
In the opening 10 minutes, Dortmund were landing jab after jab on a sluggish Bayern – but the method of pressing hard and applying pressure is only effective when converted. Not for the first time this season it wasn't and when Thomas Müller lobbed just wide, a familiar narrative began to appear.
Dortmund's 4-3-3 formation had pace in almost every area, and with Bayern looking narrow, it was clear a fast game would suit Dortmund. It was fast, but not long enough for Dortmund to seize on it.
Pep Guardiola's men were compact. With three central defenders – Mehdi Benatia, Jerome Boateng and Dante – and Alonso dropping deeper than his midfield partners Bastian Schweinsteiger and captain Philipp Lahm to create, there was almost no width for the hosts. That didn't change when Sebastian Rode and the returning Thiago came on.
That compactness stopped Dortmund, whose transitional play was hampered by an inability to keep the ball in a tight midfield. Perhaps their furious opening had left them short of breath, but not being able to convert their pace or chances was a problem that lasted the whole game. It was just when Lewandowski beat a sleeping Mats Hummels to the ball that it mattered most.
Dortmund lacked inspiration. A 4-3-3 formation that saw Kuba move into midfield, never really got firing. At the start of both halves, the intent was clear but throughout the game, the clinical edge or a moment of magic was conspicuous by its absence. Not even leading men Marco Reus or Pierre Emerick Aubameyang could provide an answer – Reus was guilty of missing a chance his current form would have gobbled up. The arrival of Adrian Ramos and Shinji Kagawa sought to provide more opportunities, but they were as stifled as their predecessors.
There just didn't seem to be a back-up plan for Klopp and his men, which with a transitional based set-up is tricky. The statistics might have been in Dortmund's favor for the second half, but it was Bayern who looked more like scoring – Dortmund's excellence in one-on-one situations saved them. While both sides took a little longer than normal to spread the play, one had more variation in their locker. Without a greater effectiveness while pressing – Dortmund's ruthless touch has all but gone – or the arrival of another style, or even an improved intelligence in decisive situations, this Dortmund team are not built to challenge at the top.