Bundesliga: Borussia Dortmund search for redemption in title race | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 11.04.2019
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Bundesliga: Borussia Dortmund search for redemption in title race

Following last weekend's one sided clash between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, both club's reaction to the result will define the Bundesliga title race. The pair face differing challenges this weekend.

"We got schooled," Thomas Delaney lamented in the aftermath of Borussia Dortmund's crushing 5-0 defeat to title rivals Bayern Munich.

Three words was all the Danish midfielder needed to sum up an astonishingly one-sided contest as Dortmund threaten to let a first title win in seven years slip through their fingers.

The gulf in class was glaring, but with Bayern only two points ahead of Dortmund there is still hope that BVB can still steal a title that has, for most of the season, been theirs to lose.

Six games remain and Dortmund need to learn quick lessons from that humiliation, pick up their scarred egos and put pressure on their rivals for the rest of the campaign. How they respond to this setback will define their season. The first chance at redemption comes this Saturday against Mainz.

No room for error

Dortmund have had plenty of chances to solidify their title credentials, but a failure to beat lowly clubs such as Nuremberg, Fortuna Düsseldorf, and Augsburg has been their downfall. 

Another blip against a Mainz side which has won just twice in nine matches would surely be a mental blow too big to overcome, even if mathematically a comeback would still be possible.

Of equal importance for Dortmund's shattered ego will be a cleansheet. Lucien Favre's threadbare defence rolled over for Bayern, with three goals arriving from routine crosses and another from Dan-Axel Zagadou's schoolboy error.

Just three shutouts in the 15 last matches is a good indicator of how Dortmund's attack has papered over cracks in the backline, and all this with keeper Roman Bürki having his best season since leaving Freiburg in 2015.

Favre needs to find solutions and Abdou Diallo's return from injury will help, while Paco Alcacer's recovery will provide a boost up front. Victory on Saturday would put them top of the table again, at least for 24 hours, but they'll need a helping hand to remain there.

Fortuna could prove unlikely allies

Bayern's run-in throws up RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt as the most obvious contenders to derail their bid for a seventh straight title, but this Sunday's opponents Fortuna Düsseldorf are developing a reputation for toppling big hitters.

Friedhelm Funkel has conjured up wonders this season, masterminding victories over high-flying opponents such as Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Hoffenheim, while drawing 3-3 with Bayern thanks to a Dodi Lukebakio hat-trick back in November.

Having already had a hand in the title race twice this season, Fortuna could be set for another cameo.

"We've already shown (in) the away game that we can deliver a huge fight against Bayern," defender Matthias Zimmerman said.

"We want put on a show for the fans at home. Perhaps Bayern will have another bad day."

Bad days have been few and far between for Bayern in this Rückrunde, but a ruthless follow-up to the demolition of Dortmund's is a must to further decimate their rivals' morale. Slip up and the 5-0 rout could count for little.

Courage or fear?

Julian Weigl admitted Dortmund "didn't have the courage" and were "too fearful" in their loss to Bayern. The Black and Yellows need to decide how they will be remembered in years to come.

Because for all the proof that they're still the lesser side in the Bundesliga, Dortmund are still in the running. It remains a two-horse race, despite Bayern's superior squad, and an unpredictable season could still hold a few surprises if Dortmund bounce back quickly.

"We still have six matches to go, and you saw how fast it can change in the league," Niko Kovac said. "Very, very difficult matches are awaiting both Dortmund and us, so we won't say everything's decided."

This Bayern side still look fragile at times, particularly when tested in defense, and another twist feels possible. This weekend kicks off what will be a frantic final race to finish top of the class.

Bundesliga Matchday 29 (all times CET)

Nuremberg vs. Schalke (Friday, 20:30)

Werder Bremen vs. Freiburg (Saturday, 15:30)
Stuttgart vs. Bayer Leverkusen
RB Leipzig vs. Wolfsburg
Hannover vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach

Borussia Dortmund vs. Mainz (Saturday, 18:30)

Hoffenheim vs.Hertha Berlin (Sunday, 13:30)
Fortuna Düsseldorf vs. Bayern Munich (Sunday, 15:30)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Augsburg (Sunday, 18:30)

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