Germany's "clash of the titans" certainly didn't disappoint. In a continuously captivating contest that surely kept Germans across the Bundesrepublik on the edge of their seats throughout, FC Bayern München prevailed 3-2 in the country's "Spitzenspiel".
Heading into the battle of Germany's two largest and best supported clubs, the primary concern for FCB trainer Hansi Flick had to be the absence of right fullback Benjamin Pavard. The straightforward solution to this problem was to plug in back-up Bouna Sarr. Otherwise, Flick made no alterations to his largely self-coached 4-2-3-1.
Opposing trainer Lucien Favre faced his own injury issues. Nevertheless, with Mats Hummels deemed healthy enough to start, the Swiss coach was able to build his own preferred 4-2-3-1. In a move not necessarily that surprising, he tapped long-time captain Marco Reus to serve at ten over Julian Brandt for his team's most important match of the young campaign.
Proceedings got off to a rollicking start, with the NRW hosts finding some success in attacking Sarr's side. Lead Striker Erling Haaland had some difficulty finding his touch early and spurned several quality chances. At the other end, the midfield pairing of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka appeared at the top of their game, generating a few looks at goal mostly thorough high press patrolling around the edge of the box.
Robert Lewandowski appeared to have the opening goal in the 24th, but his simple finish of a Serge Gnabry square was disallowed when a lengthy VAR review showed both his shoulder and knee just a hair offside. The game would be turned on its head ten minutes later.
A poor giveaway from Sarr, who had a very suspect match, forced Kimmich into a hard tactical foul on Haaland. The national team midfielder immediately had to be substituted off after knocking knees with the Norwegian striker. Taking advantage of the disarray, Reus was able to finish of a Raphaël Guerreiro cutback at the stroke of halftime.
The BVB were unable to enter the tunnel with the lead, however, as a David Alaba free-kick careened in after taking a deflection off of Thomas Meuier's shoulder in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time.
Lewandowski would get his goal three minutes after the restart with a fine dipping finish of a Lucas Hernandez cross. Bayern then looked by far the better, with Kingsley Coman getting three shots on target between the 46th and 60th. Included among them was one hit of the post.
The momentum then swung the other way with Giovanni Reyna and Reus getting quality chances in. Unfortunately for Dortmund, a giveaway 19 yards from their opponents goal led to a lightning quick Bayern counter in the 80th. Substitute Leroy Sane finished after the FCB tore down the length of the field in a matter of seconds.
Just when it appeared as if a 3-1 lead would spell the end for the BVB, Haaland pulled one back in the 83rd. The immaculate four-touch move will contend for one of the goals of the season. Irrespective of that, the German giants got the better of the chances down the stretch. Lewandowski had another goal disallowed for offside at 90+2.