Dortmund – "People had said this would be a boring game with so many players missing," said Jupp Heynckes after FC Bayern Munich’s 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund. "That couldn’t have been further from the truth."
Hard to focus
Having reached the final of the UEFA Champions League by virtue of a sensational 7-0 aggregate victory over FC Barcelona, and with a 20-point lead over their hosts at the Bundesliga summit, Heynckes chose to retain just four of his Camp Nou starters against a Dortmund side which also rung the changes after reaching the Wembley decider themselves with a 4-3 aggregate win against Real Madrid CF.
Yet this was by no means a dead rubber of a contest as two goals, a red card, seven bookings and a missed penalty all attested to.
Dortmund began better at the packed Signal-Iduna-Park, taking the lead through Kevin Großkreutz's volley 11 minutes in. Mario Gomez headed Bayern level midway through the opening period, but it took some dogged defending and a crucial penalty save from Manuel Neuer to ensure a share of the spoils after Rafinha’s second-half dismissal.
"After the last few days, it was difficult to get back down to business," admitted Heynckes, whose side were unable to extend their 14-match winning run. “It was a very intense game and neither team gave much away, but I have to pay a huge compliment to my team, who fought extremely well, even with ten men, and deserved the point."
Goalkeeper and captain for the day Neuer took a similar view: “It’s always a challenge for us to play against Dortmund. It’s a clash between two evenly-matched teams, even if there wasn’t much riding on it as we're already champions." Neuer was one of the four Bayern players to retain their place in the side and emphasised his value with a fine save from Robert Lewandowski's second-half spot-kick.
In getting the better of Lewandowski from 12 yards, Neuer won a potentially crucial psychological battle with the Pole in view of the Wembley showpiece later this month, where penalties could well be required to decide the next champions of Europe. Neuer stopped short of saying as much, although he did not miss the opportunity to plant a seed of doubt in his adversary's mind: "I think if he takes one in the final, he’ll take it differently."