Jamie Carragher has slammed Liverpool's "timid" withdrawal from the race to sign Jude Bellingham, claiming the Reds have betrayed their fans' trust by failing to pursue him.

With Bellingham expected to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season and Liverpool's midfield in desperate need of a rebuild, Anfield has long been suggested as a potential destination for the England man.

However, reports this week said Liverpool were no longer targeting Bellingham, with Real Madrid and Manchester City reportedly the frontrunners for the £130million-rated midfielder.

While Jurgen Klopp was unwilling to discuss Bellingham directly at a press conference on Friday, he accepted Liverpool may have to "step aside and do different stuff" in the next transfer window.

The decision to focus on alternative targets has attracted criticism from former Reds defender Carragher, who says the club's hierarchy must win back the confidence of disgruntled supporters.

"Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp built a level of trust with regard to transfers which was the envy of Europe," Carragher wrote in The Telegraph on Friday.

"That trust has gone with news they will not be pursuing Jude Bellingham this summer.

"It must be won back in the next transfer window because Klopp, his recruitment team and owners Fenway Sports Group have been granted a free pass for the dire performances of the last eight months, especially away from home."

With Liverpool highly unlikely to qualify for next season's edition of the Champions League, Carragher feels their failure to compete for Bellingham's signature demonstrates "weakness".

"Everything pointed to waiting for Bellingham. The supporters were sold the dream that the next Steven Gerrard was Anfield-bound," Carragher added.

"After a year working on a deal, it feels like a timid surrender to step aside and allow Manchester City and Real Madrid to fight it out. 

"There are times when a club of Liverpool's stature has to flex some muscle and remind their rivals they can and will be there to compete off and on the pitch.

"To walk away because there is now too much work needed across the whole squad smacks of weakness, negligence and poor planning."

Jurgen Klopp accepts Liverpool may have to "step aside and do different stuff" in the transfer market amid reports they have given up hope of signing Jude Bellingham.

The Reds manager only briefly directly addressed the suggestion Liverpool are out of the running for Borussia Dortmund and England star Bellingham, as he spoke ahead of Monday's Premier League trip to Leeds United.

Reports earlier in the week suggested the club have decided the 19-year-old midfielder would take up too much of their budget in a transfer window in which they will need to sign more than one player.

"It's nothing to say about, to be honest," Klopp told a press conference.

"If we don't speak about players we sign, or not sign, why would we now speak about this kind of speculation and this kind of news? So it's really nothing to say about."

He did, however, speak in broader terms about the prospect of chasing top players, and how sometimes clubs, even those of Liverpool's stature, cannot expect to land all their targets.

Bellingham has been a target of Europe's elite clubs after shining for club and country, and Liverpool had been seen as front-runners for his signature for what would almost certainly be a nine-figure fee.

However, the Reds look likely to miss out on next season's Champions League after a disappointing 2022-23 campaign, and they may be readjusting their targets.

"It's not about Jude Bellingham, my answer now, definitely not," Klopp said. "I never understood why we constantly talk about things we theoretically cannot have.

"We cannot have six players in the summer where everyone's £100million, for example. Everybody would say that's kind of clear.

"You have to realise what you can do, and then you have to work with that. So how much money do we have available? And then you have to work with that.

"We are not children. If you ask a five-year-old what they want for Christmas and they tell you, 'I want to have a Ferrari', you wouldn't say 'that's a good idea', you would say 'that's too expensive and anyway, you cannot drive it.'

"That's how it is. If this kid is then his whole life unhappy because he cannot get a Ferrari that would be a sad life, but it's just what can you do, and then you do it and you work with that.

"Whatever I want, what we need and what we want, we try absolutely everything to get it.

"But there are moments where you have to accept this or that is not possible for us and just step aside and do different stuff."

Klopp also touched on Sunday's half-time flashpoint in Liverpool's game against Arsenal where assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis appeared to aim an elbow at Liverpool defender Andy Robertson.

Hatzidakis will face no punishment for the unusual incident, the Football Association said on Thursday.

Klopp said: "I think it's been dealt with really well.

"I wasn't aware of it during the game. I spoke to Robbo and all the other guys, not to the assistant, but I think it's now been dealt with really well, and now we can carry on."

Heavyweight clubs including Manchester City, Liverpool, Napoli and Milan are reportedly closely monitoring the exciting Celta Vigo midfielder Gabri Veiga due to his affordable release clause.

Veiga, 20, is enjoying the best season of his young career, with the skilful central midfielder forcing his way into manager Carlos Carvahal's best XI.

Playing mostly as an attacking midfielder, Veiga has racked up nine goals in 26 LaLiga appearances, earning his first call-up to the Spain Under-21 team along the way.

His play in one of the top leagues in the world has caught the eye of midfielder-hungry Champions League sides, with his release clause providing a more affordable alternative to some of the other top central midfielders on the market in the upcoming transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE AND SERIE A GIANTS CLAMOUR FOR VEIGA

Veiga is said to have a €40million (£35m) release clause, which Galician newspaper Atlantico says has caught the attention of Manchester United, City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Newcastle United, Napoli and Milan.

The report states Celta Vigo are prepared for a big club to come and activate that clause in the off-season, and they will not budge or negotiate a lower figure.

The emergence of Veiga provides another option for clubs who have been closely following Brighton and Hove Albion 21-year-old Moises Caicedo, who is believed to be valued around £80m, or £100m-plus teenager Jude Bellingham of Borussia Dortmund.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Guardian is reporting Liverpool, Chelsea and United are the leading candidates in the chase for 24-year-old Brighton and Argentina standout Alexis Mac Allister, with Puroboca.com quoting the player's father, Carlos, as saying: "It is most likely that Alexis will already be playing in another team next July."

– According to Foot Mercato, Nice are hoping to receive a €60m (£53m) fee in return for 22-year-old midfielder Khephren Thuram, with Paris Saint-Germain, Dortmund, Liverpool and City all said to be circling the France international.

Roma are reportedly in advanced talks with 24-year-old Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar ahead of his contract expiring in a few months, although they will face competition from Real Betis and Eintracht Frankfurt, per Fabrizio Romano.

– 90min is reporting Chelsea are confident they will be able to sign 24-year-old Mason Mount to a new long-term contract.

– According to CBS Sports, Al Nassr are targeting either Zinedine Zidane or Jose Mourinho as their future manager after the club where Cristiano Ronaldo plays fired Rudi Garcia.

Borussia Dortmund's England international midfielder Jude Bellingham is expected to be the topic of widespread speculation in the next transfer window.

Several top clubs are circling to sign the 19-year-old, with Dortmund slapping a staggering £130million transfer fee on him as their asking price.

Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool have all been linked with Bellingham, who is contracted to the German side until 2025.


TOP STORY – REDS PULL OUT OF BELLINGHAM RACE

Liverpool have withdrawn from the race to sign Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham, according to The Athletic.

The Reds had previously made him their number one priority signing but have now opted out of the race given the price tag and impact that would have on their off-season transfer budget.

Football.London claims Liverpool will instead turn their attention to Chelsea's Mason Mount as a priority midfield target.

Other potential targets mentioned by The Athletic are Brighton and Hove Albion pair Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister along with Bayern Munich's Ryan Gravenberch.


ROUND-UP

Real Madrid are pondering a free transfer move for Liverpool's Roberto Firmino, according to El Nacional. The Brazilian will depart Anfield when his contract expires at the end of this season.

– Marca claims Madrid are also interested in Villarreal's Samuel Chukwueze, who netted twice against Los Blancos on Saturday. The Nigerian is contracted until 2024 and has a €100m buyout clause on the deal, although Villarreal may reportedly be willing to accept around half of that at the end of this term.

Bayern Munich have come into the picture to sign Napoli forward Victor Osimhen with the German champions weighing up a bid for the Nigerian, reports Sky Germany.

– Football Insider reports Brighton and Hove Albion are willing to accept a £80m bid from Manchester United for midfielder Caicedo, who penned a new long-term deal until 2027 in March following January interest from Arsenal.

– AS claims Chelsea have held talks with Barcelona midfielder Gavi's agent to discuss a potential free transfer to the Blues in the off-season.

Julian Brandt believes he can achieve "something big" with Borussia Dortmund after ignoring interest from elsewhere to sign a new three-year contract.

The Germany international has shone in his attacking midfield role for BVB this term, playing a huge role in a title challenge that could go to the wire.

Brandt, who turns 27 in May, signed his latest contract on Tuesday, quashing the prospect of him being able to leave on a free transfer at the end of next season.

Liverpool and Arsenal are among the teams who have been linked with Brandt in recent weeks, and that comes as little surprise considering his strong campaign.

Only three midfielders in the Bundesliga have created more chances this season that Brandt's 57, which puts him 30 ahead of his nearest midfield club colleague, Jude Bellingham (27).

Brandt has eight goals and four assists in the league, with his 12 goal involvements also setting the benchmark for Dortmund's midfielders, putting him two ahead of Marco Reus and four clear of Bellingham.

He has played 164 passes, including crosses, into the opposition box, far and away the most of any Dortmund player, with his threat from the flanks making him a valuable asset.

Considering he has played 931 passes in all, more than one in six of those on average have gone into the penalty area (18 per cent).

With uncertainty lingering over Bellingham's future, as clubs look closely at the England international, Dortmund made sure to tie up former Bayer Leverkusen star Brandt to new terms.

Brandt said: "Even after four years, I still have a lot of fun every single day being part of precisely this team, being on the pitch with these lads and playing football for this highly emotional club with its extraordinary fans.

"In honesty, the feeling of being in the right place at the right time has always been the most important point of my sporting life. And that won't change either. I'm looking forward to the coming years in black and yellow and I'm sure that we'll have the opportunity to celebrate something big together."

Dortmund announced the extension on their website, describing it as "a core element of the medium-term squad planning", with sporting director Sebastian Kehl saying Brandt has "undergone another enormous development in the last year, is significantly more focused in his play off the ball, regularly sets up goals and shines himself as a goalscorer".

Ajax have finally filled the void left by Marc Overmars with the appointment of former Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund transfer chief Sven Mislintat.

Overmars was sacked by Ajax in February 2022 after "a series of inappropriate messages sent to several female colleagues over an extended period of time".

The former Netherlands international apologised for his actions but departed the club, accepting a role at Belgian side Antwerp a month later.

In the meantime, Ajax have operated without a specific director of football, Overmars' duties instead handled by technical managers Gerry Hamstra and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Mislintat, who left Stuttgart in late 2022, will step into the void from May 19.

Ajax CEO Edwin van der Sar said of the appointment: "It is good for Ajax that we have been able to fill this important position with an internationally experienced football director who can start quickly.

"A careful process preceded the search for the right person. We were looking for someone who stands for attacking and attractive football.

"Someone who has an international network, and has an eye for scouting, development, and the growth of our own youth.

"Sven meets the profile, and he made a very good impression on us from the first talks in February.

"In addition, he has a way of working that fits today's industry. I am convinced that he will make an important contribution to new successes of Ajax."

Mislintat made his name at Borussia Dortmund, where he was head of scouting and head of professional football between 2006 and 2017, playing a vital role in the identification of talents who re-established BVB among the elite.

Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mats Hummels, Shinji Kagawa and Ousmane Dembele all signed for Dortmund on Mislintat's watch.

He became Arsenal's head of recruitment in 2017 but his spell in charge of transfers was largely deemed a disappointment, leaving in February 2019.

Mislintat returned to Germany with Stuttgart two months later, staying until late last year when he opted against signing a new contract as he sought a new challenge.

Jude Bellingham has been accused by Dietmar Hamann of lacking discipline in his game, with the former Germany midfielder urging suitors to be aware of the teenager's shortcomings.

Liverpool and Real Madrid are among clubs to have been linked with a move for the Borussia Dortmund midfielder, who could move on at the end of the season.

Any potential buyer may have to put up over €100million to prise Bellingham away from BVB, where his performance level has been reflected by him being handed the captaincy at times this term.

Hamann sees flaws in England international Bellingham's game, however.

The former Liverpool, Manchester City and Bayern Munich midfielder said: "I'm not quite sure about Bellingham. He's an incredibly talented player who has extraordinary skills. The only thing he doesn't have is discipline.

"If you look at the goals Dortmund have conceded in recent weeks and months, I can tell you off the top of my head five or six in which he played a key role."

Hamann was speaking on German broadcaster Sky Sport before Bellingham helped Dortmund to a 2-1 win over Union Berlin in the Bundesliga, staying two points behind leaders Bayern Munich with seven rounds of the season remaining.

"I would be careful if I'm Real Madrid, Liverpool or Manchester City," Hamann said.

"Of course he's an exceptional player who's still very young. But he's slowly got to get the discipline into his game."

Hamann, who managed English non-league club Stockport County after his playing career ended, said Bellingham would have to "play differently" if he joins a traditional heavyweight.

Clearly, Bellingham is already at a major club, but he could go on to join more of a perennial Champions League contender.

Hamann believes Bellingham is being indulged and can "do whatever he wants" while at Dortmund, with the club "afraid of upsetting him".

A different view was proposed after Dortmund's win by head coach Edin Terzic, who defended Bellingham's role, saying: "Jude is able to intervene very actively everywhere in the game, both when we have the ball and when the opponent has the ball."

Edin Terzic breathed a sigh of relief after Youssoufa Moukoko's late winner guided Borussia Dortmund past Union Berlin, keeping them in touch with Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.

Moukoko came off the bench to net the decisive goal after Donyell Malen's opener was cancelled out by Kevin Behrens, as BVB edged a battle between Bayern's two closest challengers 2-1.

The victory ensures Dortmund – who were beaten 4-2 by Bayern last week – remain two points adrift of Thomas Tuchel's league leaders with seven games still to play this term.

Terzic now has 32 wins from his first 50 league games in charge of Dortmund – more than any other Dortmund coach has posted in their first 50 matches at the helm – and the importance of their latest victory was not lost on the 40-year-old.

"It was a close but deserved win in an extremely important game for us," he told Sky Sport Germany. "We put in a really good performance in the first half, both offensively and defensively. 

"It's always difficult and always tight against Union Berlin. So we are very relieved to go home with a win.

"It is often not easy against this opponent. You can see the investment we had to make to get over the halfway line and have chances to score, and what the opponent had to invest to score.

"They are extremely dangerous on the break, and yet we managed to defend passionately at the end."

Moukoko reacted to his seventh league goal of the campaign by embracing Terzic on the touchline, and the Dortmund boss was pleased to see the young striker step up at a decisive moment.

"He's a goalscorer and has a feel for where the ball is going," he said. "I'm his coach and I want to have a close exchange with all the players – especially with such young players who have received a lot of praise in recent years. 

"When they are young, they only ever hear how good they are. Then they get into senior football and realise it's not that easy. 

"We want to help the boys grow up. It's extremely good for us that such a young guy once again decided the game for us."

Chelsea and Manchester United are reportedly both in discussions with Benfica about a potential deal for striker Goncalo Ramos – although he is said to be neither team's top choice.

Ramos, 21, has enjoyed a breakout season in Portugal. After scoring eight goals in 46 appearances in the previous campaign, Ramos has replaced Darwin Nunez as Benfica's main man up top and netted 25 goals in 38 games.

He also shone on the world stage, scoring a hat-trick in Portugal's round-of-16 World Cup clash against Switzerland after replacing Cristiano Ronaldo, and despite his contract tying him to Benfica until 2026, the club are willing to listen to substantial offers.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA JOIN UNITED IN MAKING RAMOS THEIR BACKUP PLAN

According to Football Insider, Chelsea's top priority up front is Napoli's Victor Osimhen, while United have Tottenham's Harry Kane at the top of their shopping list, but both view Ramos as the ideal consolation prize.

Kane is expected to fetch a fee in the range of £100million, and Osimhen's asking price is even higher, but while Ramos has a £105m release clause in his contract, the report states Benfica will accept bids around £70m (€79m).

Improving Chelsea's chances is the fact Ramos is represented by the same agency as Joao Felix, who is on loan at Stamford Bridge from Atletico Madrid.

ROUND-UP

– Cadena SER is reporting Paris Saint-Germain have joined the race for Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham and would be able to pay him more than any other club.

– After recently making his senior debut for Italy, 23-year-old Argentine-born striker Mateo Retegui will make a move to Europe at the end of the season, with Eintracht Frankfurt and Inter showing the most interest, per Fabrizio Romano.

– Football Insider is reporting Newcastle United, Arsenal and Barcelona are all expected to make a run at signing Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Borussia Dortmund head coach Edin Terzic says his decision to leave out Jude Bellingham against RB Leipzig had nothing to do with recent criticism from Emre Can.

Bellingham was named among the substitutes for Wednesday's 2-0 loss at Red Bull Arena as Dortmund's DFB-Pokal hopes were ended at the quarter-final stage.

The England's international's omission came a day after Can publicly said his team-mate has "to learn a lot" after regularly letting his emotion get the better of him on the field.

But Terzic confirmed Bellingham was overlooked for a starting spot against Leipzig for fitness reasons, rather than any sort of falling out behind the scenes.

"Jude signalled after the game against [Bayern] Munich that he wasn't 100 per cent fit," Terzic told Sky Germany.

Asked about Can's criticism of Bellingham, Terzic said: "That has nothing to do with the decision."

Only Nico Schlotterbeck (37) has played more times for Dortmund than Bellingham (36) this season, with all but three of the midfielder's appearances being starts.

The 19-year-old, who has been linked with an array of Europe's top clubs, was introduced with an hour played against Leipzig but could not help Dortmund recover.

Will Orban scored in the 98th minute to add to Timo Werner's 22nd-minute opener in a deserved victory for Leipzig, who had 11 shots on target to BVB's one.

Dortmund have exited the DFB-Pokal and Champions League over the past month, while Saturday's 4-2 loss to Bayern saw them replaced at the top of the Bundesliga.

Terzic had no complaints over the loss to Leipzig and accepts his side's campaign is as good as over if they do not learn from their back-to-back defeats.

"It was a catastrophic game in the first half," he said. "It was basically a s*** evening because we did not advance to the next round of a cup we had a good chance of winning.

"It's now a matter of looking ahead. There's still an important competition in which we want to play a big role.

"But if you look at the performance against Leipzig and the performance in Munich, it will be difficult for us if we continue to play like this."

Liverpool are reportedly no longer pursuing Wolves midfielder Matheus Nunes and will instead pivot to Brighton and Hove Albion young gun Moises Caicedo or Chelsea and England talent Mason Mount.

The decision to turn their attention away from Nunes comes after Wolves removed a release clause in his contract that would have made him available for £44million in the upcoming transfer window, according to The Mirror.

The report states Wolves will still entertain the possibility of selling Nunes, but will now demand at least £50m for the player they paid £38m for in an August transfer from Sporting CP.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL TURN TO CAICEDO, MOUNT AFTER NUNES REVELATION

With Nunes out of the equation, The Mirror is reporting Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham remains the top priority, but Liverpool will investigate more "realistic" moves for Caicedo or Mount.

Caicedo, 21, signed a new contract with Brighton after the club turned down a £70m offer from Arsenal in January, but according to Football Insider the Seagulls were primarily against letting a top talent leave mid-season and will be far more open to discussions in the off-season.

Mount, 24, now has 15 months remaining on his Chelsea contract and has shown no signs of signing an extension, making him a prime candidate to leave the club in an effort to balance their books after lavish spending in the past 12 months.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Daily Mail is reporting Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham are among a host of clubs with interest in the £40million (€45.6m) release clause of 26-year-old Napoli centre-back Kim Min-jae, who would prefer a Premier League move if he is to leave Serie A.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal have made an official offer to impending free agent Lionel Messi that would pay him £350m per year.

Lazio are trying to convince star 28-year-old midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to sign a new two-year extension to repel interest from Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, Juventus, United and Chelsea, per Football Italia.

– Sky Sports Germany's Florian Plettenberg is reporting RB Leipzig and Inter are both pushing to sign breakout 23-year-old Tigre striker Mateo Retegui after the Argentine-born talent made his international debut for Italy recently.

– According to Mundo Deportivo, Atletico Madrid have offered 30-year-old striker Alvaro Morata a contract extension as he prepares to enter the final year of his current deal, although the club are willing to sell him if he would prefer a new challenge.

Josko Gvardiol won plenty of admirers during Croatia's run to the 2022 World Cup semi-finals.

The 21-year-old central defender is contracted until 2027, but has a hefty release clause that will become active in 2024.

As a result, clubs are likely to be competing to secure the Croatian's services in the next transfer window.

TOP STORY – CITY AND REAL PRIORITISE GVARDIOL SIGNING

Manchester City and Real Madrid have both made RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol their priority centre-back target for the next transfer window, according to 90min.

The report claims Leipzig wants £75m (€85m) for the Croatian defender, who almost joined Chelsea last off-season.

City and Real are also both in contention to sign Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham, complicating the Gvardiol move.

The report also claims City are willing to offload Aymeric Laporte to help facilitate any move.

 

ROUND-UP

Liverpool are the favourites ahead of Manchester City in the race to sign Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount in the off-season, reports Football Insider.

Manchester United are keeping an eye on Joao Felix 's situation with the Atletico Madrid forward currently on loan at Chelsea, claims Mundo Deportivo. Chelsea have been linked with a permanent deal for the Portuguese.

– The Sun claims Leicester City are keen on re-signing Harry Maguire on loan from Manchester United amid talk he will exit Old Trafford.

Arsenal 's desire to land Dusan Vlahovic from Juventus could see the Gunners offer up Granit Xhaka and Nicolas Pepe as part of a deal, reports Calciomercatoweb.

– Fichajes claims Manchester City and Chelsea will battle it out to sign Milan full-back Theo Hernandez.

Barcelona have prioritised a move for Liverpool winger Luis Diaz in the next transfer window, according to Fichajes.

Thomas Tuchel's first game as Bayern Munich coach may have been an impressive 4-2 victory over rivals Borussia Dortmund, but he knows there is work to do.

Tuchel replaced Julian Nagelsmann during the international break, and his first game in the dugout was Saturday's Klassiker against his old club Dortmund, who had won nine of their first 10 league games in 2023 to leave them top of the Bundesliga.

But Bayern leapfrogged them to the summit in style.

Gregor Kobel's error and a Thomas Muller double had the 10-time reigning champions 3-0 up within 23 minutes.

Kingsley Coman made it 4-0 shortly after half-time, and though consolation goals from Emre Can and Donyell Malen somewhat took the shine off their victory, Bayern now look the clear favourites to claim an 11th straight Bundesliga title, with Opta rating it at an 87.7 per cent chance they become champions again.

Despite the great start to his tenure, Tuchel insists there is still much work to do if Bayern are to get where he wants them to be, telling Sky TV: "I was very nervous today. It was a good first step but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

"It was a bit too wild, we wanted to have more dominance. We started very nervously. The whole game was actually too sloppy with too many ball losses.

"We have a lot to analyse. The team is extremely willing to learn. I understand that some things haven't worked out yet. All in all, it was too many turnovers that made life difficult for us. We want to be in possession. 

"It's a bit like a band or an orchestra. We have to find our rhythm."

Nagelsmann's sacking came despite Bayern being in the Champions League quarter-finals.

"Everyone was aware of what was at stake here. A change of coach always brings unrest, there was a lot to absorb," Tuchel added.

"The will to implement everything was there 100 per cent. That's the most important. 

"When we played calmly and clearly, we had top-class chances. We have leaders, and that will give us peace and confidence."

Borussia Dortmund hoped there had been a sign of change. BVB were back on top of the Bundesliga ahead of Der Klassiker and going to rivals Bayern Munich as the league's in-form team, their hosts meanwhile were in self-inflicted turmoil.

Victory at Allianz Arena would be the real statement Dortmund desired in a quest to prove they could end Bayern's domination of not only German football's biggest game, but the Bundesliga in general.

And perhaps Dortmund will still go on to win the title, but Saturday's match suggested that no matter how good BVB are, Bayern's psychological hold over them will take years to overcome.

As Bayern cruised to a 4-2 win, the Bundesliga's title race took another turn.

There had been plenty of talk about confidence from the Dortmund camp coming into the game, with CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke managing to perfectly encapsulate Bayern's recent dominance of this fixture when saying they were travelling "to Munich with a lot of self-belief for the first time in a long time".

He was referring to the fact BVB hadn't won at Allianz Arena in the Bundesliga since 2014, when Jurgen Klopp was still in charge, and their run of eight – now nine – successive league losses away to Bayern was their second-worst streak against any club in their top-flight history.

They'd been on the end of some hammerings in that time, too, losing by three or more goals five times.

So, when Dortmund began with genuine promise and swagger on Saturday, there was at least a suggestion Bayern weren't going to have it all their own way.

 

Dortmund were aggressive in their pressing and incisive with their distribution. Marius Wolf's energy down the right looked a potential weapon; Jude Bellingham showed some classy touches; Marco Reus' off-the-ball runs caused Bayern issues.

In fact, had Reus got his shot off a fraction of a second earlier in the seventh minute after Wolf's clever release, he may well have given BVB an early lead – as it was, Matthijs de Ligt got across to make a vital block.

But as predictable as some might have suggested a comfortable Bayern win was, there was nothing inevitable about the moment everything changed on Saturday.

Dayot Upamecano's pass from just inside his own half was seemingly routine for Gregor Kobel, but the goalkeeper took his eye off the ball as he raced out to clear, getting a slight nick on the ball to score arguably the most remarkable own goal of the season.

It's impossible to definitively say if things would've been different without that horror show, but Dortmund ceased to be much of a threat from that point in the 13th minute.

The following 10 minutes saw Bayern build a handsome lead. Thomas Muller was on hand to nudge home from De Ligt's headed flick-on to make it 2-0, and then punished another Kobel mistake with a tap-in when Leroy Sane's long-range strike was only parried.

It was effectively game over inside a quarter of the contest. Dortmund may have been the Bundesliga's form team coming into the weekend, but their first-half collapse had them reverting to type in Der Klassiker.

It wasn't over yet either.

Bayern looked especially potent in the opening half when attacking from the flanks, with Sane and – in particular – Kingsley Coman absolutely devastating at times.

 

Their deployment as inverted wingers was one of few significant alterations to the Bayern setup from Tuchel. It worked a treat almost throughout, and its success was tangible with the fourth goal early in the second half.

Sane cut in from the right, played a perfectly weighted pass towards the back post – through the legs of Muller – and Coman was there to stab home.

No one would have expected wholesale changes from Tuchel. After all, he's only had a couple of days to work with much of the squad following the international window.

But such a subtle yet demonstrably effective tweak perhaps highlights why Bayern were so keen to not miss out on the opportunity to finally hire Tuchel.

Similarly, Bayern were thrilling to watch, and we know just how important that is.

"We've come to the conclusion that the quality in our squad – despite the Bundesliga title last year – has come to the fore less and less often. After the World Cup we have played less successfully and less attractively. The big fluctuations in performance have cast doubt on our goals for this season, but also our goals for the future. That is why we have acted now."

Club CEO Oliver Kahn's comments after Julian Nagelsmann's sacking were pretty brutal but offered a lot of clarity to not only the man he'd just fired, but also the one he'd just hired.

 

Dortmund's late consolations via an Emre Can penalty and Donyell Malen's precise finish might be indicative of some of the issues with Bayern's mentality towards the end of Nagelsmann's reign. The 5-3 win over Augsburg comes to mind.

But 4-2 was a scoreline that flattered Dortmund. If anything, Bayern were a little wasteful, and had they checked their runs better, more goals certainly would've arrived.  

In some ways, this win was almost as close to the perfect start as Tuchel could have enjoyed when you consider the reservations Bayern started to have with Nagelsmann.

It will have likely dealt Dortmund a psychological blow, while Bayern find themselves back at the top of the table having produced an entertaining attacking spectacle.

But this wasn't where the title was won and lost – Bayern's shaky post-World Cup form proves Tuchel still has a lot of work to do.

Thomas Tuchel's Bayern Munich tenure started with a resounding 4-2 victory over rivals Borussia Dortmund at Allianz Arena.

Tuchel replaced Julian Nagelsmann during the international break, and his first game at the helm saw him tasked with shifting his former club Dortmund from top spot in the Bundesliga.

It was a fantastic start for Tuchel on the other side of the Klassiker rivalry, with Gregor Kobel's calamity and Thomas Muller's double putting Bayern 3-0 up inside 23 minutes.

Kingsley Coman nudged Bayern further ahead, though Emre Can's penalty and Donyell Malen's neat finish somewhat reduced the embarrassment for Dortmund, who lost in the league for the first time since November.

Bayern took the lead in bizarre fashion.

Dayot Upamecano's long throughball was seemingly running straight through to Kobel, but Dortmund's goalkeeper opted to try and boot it upfield, only to miscue, inadvertently sending the ball skimming into his own goal.

It was 2-0 just five minutes later, Matthijs de Ligt nodding a corner into the path of Muller, who stabbed home from close range.

Another Kobel blunder gifted Bayern a third – Muller on hand to tuck in the rebound after Leroy Sane's strike had been parried out.

Coman extended the lead in the 50th minute, latching onto Sane's clever pass to sidefoot into the bottom corner, and Dortmund had a reprieve when Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting's acrobatic finish was disallowed for offside.

Can smashed home a penalty after Jude Bellingham was felled by Serge Gnabry before Malen slotted in, but those goals were merely minor blips in an emphatic Bayern win.

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