Stakes are high as Bayern Munich take on Borussia Dortmund in the revered Der Klassiker in the Bundesliga this weekend.
It’s one we’ve all been waiting for as two of the biggest giants in German football in Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich go head to head on Saturday.
Popularly labelled as Der Klassiker, this game usually associates a top of the table clash, with Dortmund often looking to chase their competitive rivals. This time, however, the Black and Yellows are set to serve as the helping hand of RB Leipzig, who are set to closely monitor this encounter, as they attempt to pip Bayern at the top.
Indeed, the Bavarians are leading the Bundesliga table by just two-point, meaning a defeat in Der Klassiker should allow in the in-form Roten Bullen to secure the top spot by the end of this weekend’s round of fixtures.
Dortmund themselves desperately need a win in their bid to get back into the top four. They are currently dawdling in the fifth position, three points behind Eintracht Frankfurt, and simply cannot afford to lose all three points, knowing Bayer Leverkusen, though crumbling at the moment, are breathing down their necks.
It points to a high-stake encounter and here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two German giants before they lock horns at the Allianz Arena this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick has confirmed the absence of Benjamin Pavard in the presser, citing the right-back’s lack of match fitness that could once again pave the way for Niklas Sule to operate at right-back.
Hansi Flick: "Benjamin Pavard will not be available tomorrow. He'll increase the training load bit by bit and will be fully back next week. We don't want to take risks. We have players who can replace him" pic.twitter.com/JjkvCEOq0I
— Sextuple winners 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 (@iMiaSanMia) March 5, 2021
The Bavarians played with a high backline that came at the expense of Dortmund creating too many chances in the reverse fixture. However, that won’t deter Flick, who is likely to instruct the likes of Alphonso Davies, Jerome Boateng and David Alaba to play higher up the pitch and make use of their opponent’s depleted midfield unit.
Although Bayern are a threat on the counter, the key for them is to dominate the possession. It should put pressure on the Dortmund players, forcing them to concede unnecessary turnovers in the middle of the park. And that is where the midfield duo of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka could come in handy.
Kimmich should also play a vital role in offering creativity, using his set-piece prowess. Although with Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry back in contention, the German record champions should come out all guns blazing in the final third.
In fact, it won’t be surprising to see the omission from Leroy Sane from the starting eleven, even though the former Manchester City winger is slowly starting to get back to his rhythm. He does remain an option on the bench, however, alongside Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who is a potential alternative for star striker Robert Lewandowski upfront.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Sule, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Goretzka, Kimmich; Gnabry, Muller, Coman; Lewandowski
Borussia Dortmund’s narrow triumph over Borussia Monchengladbach in the DFB Pokal was overshadowed by the injury of Raphael Guerreiro in midweek.
The Portuguese international is one of the best left-backs in Europe, with his lack of positional discipline surprisingly making him quite an effective source of creativity from the left flank. In addition to Guerreiro, even Jadon Sancho remains a doubt heading into this game, although BVB coach Edin Terzic is hopeful that both will be able to travel to Munich.
🎙 Edin Terzic:
“Both left the pitch injured, but we'll have to wait and see. It could be tight for both of them, but we're not giving up hope that they will fly to Munich with us tomorrow." pic.twitter.com/Oq19OTiMMP
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) March 4, 2021
Nico Schulz and Thorgan Hazard are in line to replace the two players, should they miss out on Saturday. Although with being taken off early against Gladbach, we do expect them to make the squad against Bayern.
Elsewhere, in the defensive unit, Mats Hummels and Emre Can are likely to continue ahead of Dan-Axel Zagadou at centre-back while Mateu Morey may once again be gifted with a start due to his excellent performances in recent weeks. Marwin Hitz may continue in goal too, having now become the favoured number one for the Black and Yellows.
Elsewhere, Terzic should persist with the 4-3-3 that has given him better support and numerical superiority in the possession game. Mahmoud Dahoud has been nothing short of a revelation in February, and his grace, combined with the grit of Thomas Delaney and the exuberance of Jude Bellingham serves as core features of the BVB midfield.
Marco Reus reached a landmark in midweek by making 300 competitive appearances for Borussia Dortmund. His experience could be immensely critical in this fixture, as he looks to create chances for Erling Haaland, alongside his usual partner-in-crime in Sancho., although Hazard, Julian Brandt, Giovanny Reyna and Youssoufa Moukoko do remain as alternatives.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Hitz; Morey, Can, Hummels, Guerreiro; Bellingham, Delaney, Dahoud; Reus, Haaland, Sancho
- Robert Lewandowski has scored 19 goals in 22 competitive meetings with Borussia Dortmund, with five braces and a hat-trick among that haul.
- Thomas Müller has registered 14 goals in 21 Bundesliga games against Dortmund. He’s Bayern’s next-best contributor after Lewandowski this season with 10 goals and a league-high 11 assists.
- Bayern Munich are the league’s 67-goal top scorers. It’s over a year since they failed to fire in the Bundesliga (0-0 against RB Leipzig on 9 February 2020).
- Erling Haaland has scored 30 times across his first 33 Bundesliga appearances. Lewandowski needed 67 matches to reach the same number of German top-flight goals.
- Jadon Sancho has six goals and nine assists to his name this season. He’s had a direct hand in 12 of Dortmund’s 22 league goals since the turn of the year – among the highest in the league.
Player to Watch
Among many other things, Der Klassiker has always been about the enticing head to head battles between great strikers. And while Robert Lewandowski has been a lethal goalscorer for FC Bayern over the years, it appears Borussia Dortmund have found an equally destructive force, in the shape of Erling Haaland.
The young Norwegian has enjoyed a dream start to his Bundesliga career – making him one of the best talents in world football at the moment. His electric pace, determination and physical prowess could problems for the Bayern defence as well, especially Boateng, who simply doesn’t have the speed to deal with the Dortmund forward.
It is also fair to point out that Haaland, who is a left-footer, prefers to make runs in behind the left side of the penalty area – keeping Boateng quite occupied. So it will be up to the veteran German centre-back to remain solid against the 20-year-old if Bayern are to have any chances of sealing all three points in this game.
Bayern Munich 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund have lost their last six away matches in Munich, but with no fans inside the stadium, the dynamic of this game could significantly change. In addition. Die Schwarzgelben have shown excellent form in recent weeks, and the likely return of Sancho and Guerreiro could go a long way in helping the pull off a major upset this weekend.
It isn’t going to be a walk in the park, given the fact that Bayern now have Muller, Gnabry and Goretzka back from injury. However, we are expecting their high backline to be exploited numerous times by a Dortmund attack that has confident, to say the least.