Weidenfeller's heroics save point for Dortmund

Posted by Susie Schaaf

Getty ImagesDortmund's Roman Weidenfeller had several key saves in the draw with Bayern

The excitement was palpable in Munich Saturday. With the Christkindlmarkts open, pockets of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund supporters could be found congregating across the city; hovering over warm mugs of Gluehwein, debating starting lineups and tactics in sub-freezing temperatures.

The match lived up to its hype - this German Klassiker - a tense, evenly fought bout between the league leaders and title-holders broadcast in 203 countries. Toni Kroos broke the scoreless deadlock in the 67th minute for Bayern Munich, getting through Mats Hummels and Nevan Subotic to drive low just out of reach of Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller.

- Bayern's Badstuber out for the season

- Bayern lead trimmed to eight points

But BvB had an answer: Just minutes later on a corner kick, Mario Goetze was left unmarked, caught a loose ball and drove past Manuel Neuer.

When you're in the stadium, injuries never look as bad as they might be due to lack of instant replay. So while I was dismayed to see Bayern's Holger Badstuber stretchered off on 36 minutes, my first thought was, "Yay! I get to see Boateng!"

In hindsight, in losing Badstuber for the rest of the season with a ruptured right ACL, perhaps I should have been more tempered.

I remarked that the match would come down to individual defensive errors, and in a way, it did. Subotic and Hummels were guilty of not being able to stop Kroos for the opener, and Bayern entirely missed marking Goetze on the equalizer. But the real hero of the day would be Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller.

His three terrific saves at the end of the second half - saving Kroos, tipping Thomas Mueller's effort over, and rounding Javi Martinez's header round the post - would give Dortmund their point, a well-deserved one in my book.

While Bayern defeated Dortmund in the Supercup preseason, it wasn't a match that truly mattered. In the Allainz Arena Saturday, they somewhat overcame their bogey in BvB. It wasn't a win, but they also didn't crumble. Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes summed it up: "It was an intense contest between two teams playing modern football, with very smart tactics and good transitions from defence to attack. [...] I’m very satisfied with my team."

People have marveled at my willingness to travel such far distances for matches (for those of you who don't know, I live in South Florida), and post-match I was asked numerous times if I was disappointed. No, I'm not. Would three points have been better? Certainly. But in the end, I got to see a lovely display of football, with the majority of it coming from my team: Bayern Munich.

Odds and ends:

I expected better of Bastian Schweinsteiger. He was pretty poor in the first half - loose balls and errant passes - and he only really came around in the second 45 minutes.

Heynckes took too long to bring on Mario Gomez. I would have thought Gomez deserved at least 20 minutes as Mario Mandzukic was largely ineffective.

Javi Martinez had another excellent match. He's quickly becoming a favorite of mine.

I am loving the freedom Jupp is allowing his attacking midfielders. Kroos, Mueller and Franck Ribery were all over the place. The understanding between the three is marvelous.

Jerome Boateng, coming in for the injured Badstuber, was solid for his first match back. But this defense is quickly becoming all about Dante. Another great 90 minutes by the Brazilian.

You should follow Susie on Twitter @fussballsusie

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