It's only November, but Bayern Munich are looking like very heavy favorites to lift the Bundesliga title. They still have Bayern Leverkusen to deal with, but they'll feel confident about their ability to hold off Borussia Dortmund after Saturday's 3-0 win at the Westfalenstadion.
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Bayern started the match with a very unconventional tactic. Instead of playing one of their normal lineups, either a 4-1-4-1 formation with two forward-thinking midfielders in front of a holder or 4-2-3-1 with Toni Kroos or Thomas Müller in the hole, Pep Guardiola opted to play Javi Martinez as a defensive-minded advanced midfielder, in front of Kroos and Philipp Lahm. It resulted in some decent attacks off balls won by Martinez high up the pitch, but was mostly ineffective as Bayern struggled to create anything while it was employed.
While the visitors looked like the better side in the very early going, Dortmund started to put together some dangerous-looking counter attacks with Martinez caught so far up the pitch instead of doing what he usually does -- breaking up play in midfield. However, Dortmund's shooting was poor and the first half ended with minimal incident.
Guardiola made two substitutions early in the second half that ultimately had a massive impact on the game. He took off Mario Mandzukic, his only fit striker, in the 56th minute. The Croatian was replaced by former Dortmund star Mario Götze, who went into an unfamiliar role up top. Eight minutes later, Martinez was moved back into defense when Thiago Alcantara came on for Jerome Boateng.
Just two minutes later, Bayern found their winner through Götze, who scored his first goal against his former club. Müller set it up with a square ball from the right wing into the feet of Götze, who placed a composed finish past Roman Weidenfeller at the near post.
As the game wore on, Dortmund had to push harder for an equalizer, and eventually they were punished. Arjen Robben beat his man down the left flank and chipped Weidenfeller to double Bayern's lead in the 85th minute. Two minutes later, Müller sealed the win with an easy finish from 12 yards that resembled Götze's from 20 minutes earlier.
Dortmund supporters will be left to wonder what might have been if their top defenders were healthy, but they were too poor in front of the goal to suggest that the result hinged on that. Bayern now have a comfortable lead in the table on Dortmund, who can probably turn their attention to the DFB-Pokal and Champions League after this result.
Dortmund: Weidenfeller, Grosskreutz, Papastathopolous, Friedrich, Durm, Bender (Piszczek 79'), Sahin, Reus, Mkhitaryan (Hofmann 71'), Blasczykowski (Aubameyang 71'), Lewandowski
Bayern: Neuer, Alaba, Dante, Boateng (Thiago 64'), Rafinha (van Buyten 79'), Lahm, Kroos, Müller, Martinez, Robben, Mandzukic (Götze 56')
Goals: Götze (66'), Robben (85'), Müller (87')