Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund
Saturday, 04 April 2015 1630 hours UTC
Bundesliga this Saturday is geared up for one of the most celebrated rivalries in modern football, Der Klassiker which is the name given to the clash between German footballa s heavyweights Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Even though the encounter cannot be viewed as a title decider considering the points gap between the two clubs, it is a contest which never fails to deliver plenty of action for the fans. Bayern Munich have been the runaway leaders so far with 64 points while Dortmund sit tenth in the table owing to their poor first half performances with 33 points. Dortmunda s position at the end of the season is not clearly in the view right now, with their performances lacking consistency but they certainly look like a more confident side after the winter break. Bayern might have lost their first home match in the league this season to Lucien Favrea s Gladbach but the Bavarians will be always be charged up when it comes to a clash with Dortmund. The war of words between both club managements over the transfers and financial matters always offers a subplot to the highly decorated clash. But this time around, it may seem that the main men i.e Bayerna s chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Dortmunda s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke may sit down for the traditional pre-match dinner which was being skipped by both of them for the past few fixtures. Lets look at the pre-match developments at both ends before they lineup inside Westfalenstadion.
It has been devastating news for Bayern fans as David Alaba suffered a ligament tear in his left knee while on international duty with Austria. The left-back is sidelined for seven weeks and could miss the rest of the season. While Alabaa s injury might be a blow for Pep Guardiola, the return of long-term absentees Thiago Alcantara and Captain Philipp Lahm will be a relief. Both of them featured on the bench in the match against Monchengladbach with Lahm getting some match time. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery will also not feature, with the latter just entering recovery phase. Former Dortmund duo Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze will be expecting hostile environment inside the cauldron of Signal Iduna Park following their departures from Dortmund recently. Bayern enjoy a 10 point lead at the top of the table over second placed Wolfsburg and would like to maintain it. The Bavarians won the away fixture last season but lost at home to Dortmund following a slump in form. Pep Guardiola has won three matches and lost three against Jurgen Klopp since he landed in Munich last season. He convincingly beat Dortmund to lift the league title but lost out on two chances to lift the German Super-Cup against the Yellow and Blacks. But this time around, he will be eager to secure victories against a struggling Dortmund side at home and away as well.
Possible Line-ups (3-4-3): Neuer; Benatia, Boateng, Badstuber; Bernat, Alonso, Schweinsteiger, Rafinha; Gotze, Muller, Lewandowski
Jurgen Kloppa s charges endured a miserable first half of the season languishing in the relegation zone, but have come off the blocks after the winter break. Though his sidea s inconsistency is a concern for the former Mainz boss, a clash against Bayern in front of the home crowd is set to motivate the players. And Marco Reusa return to form has been another aspect for the Dortmund fans to cheer about. Ilkay Gundogan who has been a long term absentee for Dortmund also looks to have gained confidence after he played full 90 minutes for Germany in the international friendly against Australia. The transfer rumours before the match surrounding Mats Hummelsa potential move to Manchester United have also been put to bed with the club captain making it clear that he didna t have any deal with former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson. Gabon international Aubameyang has looked to have regained his goalscoring touch after scoring a brace against Hannover and in a victory against Schalke. But Dortmund looked poor against Hamburger SV and Koln after winning against Schalke and were knocked out of Champions League by Juventus before holding on to a lead against Hannover. Despite the poor performances, Dortmund are still a threat when the opponent is Bayern. Last time they narrowly lost 2-1 at the Allianz Arena a tie into which they went in without a win in 6 games, but still played great football. With Klopp adamant that his team is still is not out of relegation danger, a victory would be vital for the team morale.
Possible Line-ups (4-2-3-1): Weidenfeller; Papastathopoulos, Hummels, Subotic, Kirch; Gundogan, Bender; Reus, Kagawa, Blaszczykowski; Aubameyang
Players to Watch Out
Since signing his contract extension in early February, the German international has been main reason for the cluba s revived fortunes with inspiring performances in the second half of the season. He also returned to the international scene netting two goals in two outings with Germany. And he has been the chief destroyer whenever they faced Bayern in the last few years. His abilities are well known to the fans and the opponents, which is key for Bayern to stop the forward to control the flow of things.
In the absence of main wing-duo Robben and Ribery, the former Dortmund will have to shoulder additional responsibility against his ex-teammates on Saturday. Despite the strong competition for the places in attack this season, the World cup winner has been a regular under Pep Guardiola with consistent performances. He will be expecting a hostile treatment from the a Yellow Walla who booed him after scoring the opener last season. But for Bayern to secure a point or three, he has to outperform his former teammate and best friend Marco Reus.
Bayern Munich 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
There are no guarantees of a one-sided affair, such has been the complexity of the game when these two sides met in recent years. Irrespective of the form and injuries, both teams will play their best football and the scoreline is also expected be a tight one. Taking only few factors into consideration, Pep Guardiolaa s men have been the most consistent and disciplined team in Bundesliga which can make them the slightly better team.
Blast from the Past
A year ago, almost to the date, Dortmund scored 3 past Bayern to stun the German champions.