The 2019-20 Bundesliga title race will be at stake as Borussia Dortmund host Bayern Munich in Der Klassiker on Tuesday evening.
Die Englische Woche this time will provide us with one of the most highly anticipated matches, not only in the Bundesliga but also in Europe, as Borussia Dortmund lock horns with Bayern Munich. The two German giants face off against each other on Tuesday, at the Signal Iduna Park in a fierce contest, widely known as Der Klassiker.
However, with no fans inside the stadium, both the teams will have to deal with a weird set of circumstances. Dortmund, in particular, are likely to find it difficult playing against Bayern without the support of their Yellow Wall in the NordTribune – Europe’s largest standing terrace with almost 25,000 fans.
As far as stakes are concerned, it is a must-win game for Borussia Dortmund if they are to continue their title challenge. The Black and Yellows are trailing Bayern by just four points, meaning a win on Tuesday could bridge the gap to a mere one point.
On the flip side, a defeat should allow RB Leipzig to overtake them in second position whilst giving the Bavarians a nearly unassailable lead as we head towards the final phase of the campaign.
Die Geisterspiel in the Bundesliga has already drawn a lot of criticism for its eerie atmosphere. But, make no mistake – fans across the footballing world will be keeping an eye out on this fixture. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will be taking a look at both the sides ahead of this enticing Der Klassiker match-up this week.
Team News & Tactics
Lucien Favre will be expected to make a lot of key decisions before his side meets Bayern Munich on Tuesday. Mats Hummels had a little problem against Wolfsburg, although he is said to be fit to play against Bayern. His potential participation in Der Klassiker could play a key role in determining Dortmund’s chances.
Should Hummels miss out, Emre Can is in line to replace him at centre-back. But, ideally, the German is expected to form the double-pivot alongside Thomas Delaney, who has been in excellent form in the last two matches. Axel Witsel is likely to be available as well. However, his lack of play-time could see him start on the bench, just like Mahmoud Dahoud.
Meanwhile, in defence, Favre’s side could face problems due to Lukasz Piszczek’s lack of speed as well as technicality. And playing up against the likes of Serge Gnabry and Alphonso Davies, it will be interesting to see if the Swiss mastermind employs right wing-back Achraf Hakimi in a more defensive role.
On the opposite flank, Raphael Guerreiro is unlikely to be dealt with much trouble, thanks in part to the pace of Manuel Akanji. That means the Portuguese international is set to play a key role in Dortmund’s creativity in the final third.
Speaking of creativity, Jadon Sancho registered his 16th assist of the season against Wolfsburg. He is more than expected to return to the starting lineup, replacing Thorgan Hazard.
The English international should start alongside Julian Brandt in the free-flowing wide attacking positions, with Erling Haaland spearheading the Dortmund attack. Giovanni Reyna provides further options for Favre while club captain Marco Reus has been ruled out of this fixture.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Burki; Piszczek, Hummels, Akanji; Hakimi, Can, Delaney, Guerreiro; Sancho, Haaland, Brandt
Bayern Munich arguably have been the best team in Europe since the turn of the year. Under Hansi Flick, they have hardly put a foot wrong, registering 14 wins in 17 Bundesliga matches. They are also coming on the back of a 5-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on the weekend.
However, Dortmund will pose a much tougher challenge on Tuesday for obvious reasons. Die Schwarzgelben already possess one of the best offensive units in Europe, meaning the Bayern defence will need to be extra careful.
Jerome Boateng looked a bit rusty in the last game and might be replaced by Lucas Hernandez. The Frenchman is likely to partner David Alaba at the heart of the four-man backline, with Manuel Neuer in goal.
Meanwhile, Thiago Alcantara is a doubt heading into this game, and his potential absence could serve as a massive blow for Flick. Serge Gnabry, too, is doubtful to feature and could be replaced by Ivan Perisic.
Elsewhere, Davies’ pace, as mentioned earlier, could help the Bavarians exploit space from the right flank due to Piszczek’s lack of speed. So Flick’s side is likely to play with more width, making it difficult for the Dortmund players to execute their quick press after losing the ball.
The offensive partnership between Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski could be critical, with both the attackers regarded among the best performing players in the Bundesliga this season. At the same time, the tenacious nature of Leon Goretza and Joshua Kimmich could be equally important.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Hernandez, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Perisic, Muller, Coman; Lewandowski
- Bayern Munich have hit nine goals without reply across the previous two Bundesliga meetings with Borussia Dortmund (4-0 and 5-0), but Dortmund ran out victors the last time they met at the Signal Iduna Park in the league, winning 3-2 on Matchday 11 last season. In fact, Dortmund have lost just one of the last four (W2 D1 L1) Klassiker matches on home soil.
- Dortmund also clinched the Supercup at their famous ground back in August, meaning coach Lucien Favre has a 100 per cent record at home against Bayern with two wins from two.
- Erling Haaland’s return of 10 goals in as many games means the Black-Yellows are the only Bundesliga team this term with three players in double figures for goals: Haaland (10), Marco Reus (11) and Jadon Sancho (14).
- Robert Lewandowski is the league’s top scorer this term with 27 goals, scored at a rate of one every 82 minutes. Haaland, who joined in January, has bagged his 10 at a rate of one every 69.
- The Poland captain is also this Bundesliga fixture’s record scorer (17 goals) across spells at both clubs (16 for Bayern, one for Dortmund) and Lewandowski has notched 12 goals in his last six Klassiker outings – scoring on every occasion. He has also scored at least twice in each of the last four league games against Dortmund, a run that dates back to his hat-trick in the 6-0 demolition of his former employers on March 31, 2018.
Player to Watch
Jadon Sancho is currently tied with Lewandowski as the most productive player in the Bundesliga this season. Yet weirdly, he hasn’t played a key role in helping Dortmund secure two back-to-back wins, apart from securing an assist for Raphael Guerreiro’s goal against Wolfsburg.
On Tuesday, though, Sancho is expected to return to the starting lineup, possibly at the expense of Hazard. His pace, trickery and an almost telepathic combination with Haaland could play a massive role in dictating Dortmund’s fate in this fixture.
Just like Bayern, the home side will also look to exploit the lack of pace of the opposing defence, and that’s where Sancho’s unpredictable runs could come in handy. In addition, his constant change of positions should make it difficult for the Bavarian defence to act in a disciplined manner, thus making him one of the most important players in this fixture.
Borussia Dortmund 1-3 Bayern Munich
Despite Borussia Dortmund’s positive form heading into this fixture, it is pretty reasonable to expect a Bayern Munich victory this week.
Although the hosts are the second-best side in Germany, there is a gulf of difference between them and Bayern, which will come into play on Tuesday, especially with Dortmund missing a couple of their key players. Hence, we are expecting a comfortable 3-1 win for the visitors.