The phrase “getting the Bayern treatment” describes the Bavarian giants’ ability to violently dismember German domestic opponents on a weekly basis. Typically, I use this phrase when Bayern hammers a side 4-0, 5-0, 6-0, or more (it’s happened!). But never did I think my favourites, Borussia Dortmund, would get the #BayernTreatment.
Normally, the Bayern Treatment is reserved for the likes of Hamburger SV (especially), VfB Wolfsburg, SC Freiburg, Werder Bremen, or 1.FC Köln. Not the likes of BVB, or so I thought until Saturday’s der Klassiker ended 6-0 in favour of Bayern.
Psychologically, the loss is devastating, despite BVB still sitting third, only four points behind Schalke 04 in second place. This is the kind of loss that breaks something inside the fans and the club.
Look, I’m trying to avoid all sorts of logical fallacies here (the recency effect, the hindsight bias, the vividness effect, etc.) and think “big picture” with data and narrative-free thinking; but holy hell, that’s impossible after seeing your proud club dismembered like this. So dammit, just damnit, it’s time for some narrative-logic: this loss signals the end of an era stretching from Klopp’s back-to-back winning sides to the present day with BVB living off the fumes of a two-year tutelage under Thomas Tuchel. All that is gone now. On Saturday, BVB wasn’t even a ghost of its formerly slick Kloppo or Tuchel self. Nope. Instead, BVB suddenly became merely another Bundesliga schlub, getting a Bayern-style asswhooping.
I’m left with little else to conclude after looking at the shocking Expected Goals figures from the match (4.04 for Bayern and a humiliating 0.44 for BVB). Or that tactically BVB allowed Bayern to easily execute its plan to play the ball deep down the flanks and put deep crosses or ground balls into the box. Or that, although BVB reached the final third, it never found a key pass or run to create real threats. Or that BVB played with the kind of defensive passivity I’m used to seeing from pushovers like HSV or VfB. Or that BVB played the first half with only 30% of the ball. Or that, despite Bayern *only* outshooting BVB 17-9, the latter’s nine shots might as well been taken blindfolded.
It was that bad.
After a loss like this, the ontological necessity of something like a BVB version of Arsenal Fan TV suddenly makes sense. As do “Shea in Irving”-styled rants. The 6-0 beatdown to Bayern is the kind of loss that makes you scream rude and incoherent things, while blaming everyone working at your club. All sense of proportion is smothered by emotions.
It’s time to rant and roar, baby. Arsenal supporters, will you let us recovering Dortmund hipsters join your ranks of existentially anguished soul-searchers? Pretty please? We don’t bite, at least not yet.
In hindsight, Bayern’s 6-0 soul-dismembering of BVB was overdue – of course, I’m speaking narratively, not probabilistically. Under Peter Stöger, BVB has consistently been shifting away from the system-based pressing and attacking football characteristic of the ambitious times under Klopp or Tuchel. Tellingly, BVB’s shots tallies, shots allowed tallies, possession rates, etc. have all move in mediocre directions under Stöger, whereas the current playing “philosophy” simply seems to let talented players try to do “stuff.”
The warning signs have been flashing for months with the likes of the excellent Yellow Wall Podcast airing many “the sky is falling” episodes. Meanwhile, BVB limped along mostly drawing and sometimes beating Bundesliga opponents. Although the humiliating Europa League exit to Red Bull Salzburg injected new urgency in the narrative, it wasn’t until Saturday’s “Bayern Treatment” that something finally broke.
Let’s face it, BVB is broken right now. The rumored summer house-cleaning will happen. The club needs rebuilding around the core of Marco Reus, Mario Götze, and whoever else stays (Max Philipp? Mahmoud Dahoud? Julian Weigl? Manuel Akanji?). It’s time to admit that whatever happens, a new era will begin. And must begin.
Because, for a club with Dortmund’s European and domestic ambitions, the Bayern Treatment isn’t an option.