With an eight-point gap between table-topping Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund going into Wednesday evening’s matches, it was looking as though the Bundesliga title was almost certainly going to remain in Bavaria.
Prior to the Wednesday visit of Mainz, Bayern had won all 11 Bundesliga games played at the Allianz Arena this season and 15 on the spin in all competitions on home turf. However, that run came to a crashing halt as Mainz came away with a hugely surprising 2-1 victory.
At the same time, Borussia Dortmund were winning 2-0 away to Darmstadt and the gap between the top two was suddenly down to a more manageable five-points. Now, if Dortmund can secure victory at Signal Iduna Park, the gap will be down to a mere two points and we will have a genuine, and largely unexpected, title race on our hands.
These are by some distance the two best football teams in the German Bundesliga this season, with a vast 15-point gap between Dortmund and Hertha Berlin in third, so it’s a straight shootout between the two as far as the title is concerned.
As things stand, it’s still advantage Bayern and although it’s no longer quite win or bust for Dortmund here, as far as retaining any hope of winning the Bundesliga is concerned, you would have to doubt their ability to catch Pep Guardiola’s men unless they can claim maximum points here.
Dortmund will also be seeking revenge for a 5-1 drubbing in Munich back in early October when Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski each scored twice. That game was something of an exception, with four of the previous six matches between the two teams coming in at under 2.5 goals.
Both teams have scored 59 goals from 24 games this season, making them comfortably the highest scorers in the German top-flight. There is also the subplot of the race to be the Bundesliga’s individual top-goalscorer. To date, Bayern’s Lewandowski has 23 league goals, whilst Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has 22.
Bayern have struggled with defensive injuries of late and there was no Philipp Lahm, Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng or Holger Badstuber against Mainz. For all that they’ve still only conceded 13 league goals to date.
This game now has a lot riding on it after the midweek results and could well be a lot tighter than it might otherwise have been as a consequence, particularly in the opening 45-minutes. Thereafter, the longer it remains goalless, the more Dortmund will have to throw at the makeshift Bayern rearguard.