Defending champions Bayern Munich are not used to being the hunters, but they have the players to get the job done and topple current Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund. - © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
Defending champions Bayern Munich are not used to being the hunters, but they have the players to get the job done and topple current Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund. - © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
Bundesliga

How defending champions Bayern Munich can peg back Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund

There's a reason why Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeneß ruled out any winter signings following the narrow 3-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund. The defending champions don't need any…

The 3-2 defeat was exactly that - narrow - and masks the fact that, for at least the first 45 minutes, Bayern swamped the unbeaten Bundesliga leaders on their way to establishing a deserved 1-0 lead. And while their intensity levels dipped in the face of some unrelenting BVB attacks, there was more than enough to suggest Niko Kovac's side have the quality to eat up the seven-point deficit to the summit in the months ahead.

bundesliga.com takes a closer look at the blueprint for Bayern's inevitable resurgence…

The defence: older and wiser

Manuel Neuer in goal; Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels at the heart of the defence; and Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba at full-back. It's a tried and tested formula that - whilst not as watertight as in previous seasons (Bayern have shipped 14 goals after 11 matches compared to the eight, seven, four, three, seven and four at the same stage in their last six, title-winning campaigns) - boasts a collective experience factor totalling some 1198 Bundesliga appearances. Two-time Bundesliga winner Niklas Süle - a second-half substitute in Dortmund and the youngest of the bunch at 23 - is fast approaching his 150th outing.

Klassiker counterparts Marwin Hitz, Lukasz Piszczek, Manuel Akanji, Dan-Axel Zagadou and Achraf Hakimi, by comparison, have collected 459 top-flight outings between them - albeit with Hitz and Piszczek accounting for 90 per cent of the total. Injured for the visit of Bayern, first-choice goalkeeper Roman Bürki has 137 games under his belt, while defender Abdou Diallo has just the one full season of Bundesliga football behind him. Of the lot, Piszczek is the only member of the current Dortmund defence to have taken the fight to Bayern and won, claiming Bundesliga gold in 2011 and 2012 under Jürgen Klopp.

In the fierce heat of a 34-game title race, age - and by extension, experience - will be a massive help to Bayern's table-topping aspirations rather than a hindrance.

Watch: Manuel Neuer reflects on the positives of Bayern's loss to Dortmund

The midfield: changing of the guard

Much like the back four, there was nothing out of the ordinary about Kovac's midfield set-up against Dortmund. Javi Martinez was tasked with sentry duties in front of the defence; Serge Gnabry and Franck Ribery took up positions on the right- and left-hand flanks respectively; while Leon Goretzka and Thomas Müller operated through the middle.

Of the starting quintet, Gnabry was the standout. The Germany international had a direct hand in both Bayern goals, and gave Dortmund left-back Hakimi a torrid time until being replaced by Renato Sanches with 16 minutes of normal time remaining. Based on that performance alone, even a fully fit Arjen Robben - one of a handful of high-profile midfield absentees in Dortmund - may struggle to win back his place on the right wing. It's a welcome selection headache, in any case.

- © gettyimages / Alexander Hassenstein
- © imago
- © gettyimages / Christof Stache