The whole world will be watching when familiar foes Borussia Dortmund and Bayern München lock horns this Saturday.
|Signal Iduna Park.||Photo: Marco Verch, CC BY-SA 2.0|
"Dortmund has lost again, now we can slowly dust off the Championship trophy". Those were the words of Bayern's legendary former CEO Karl Heinz Rummenigge after BVB slipped to defeat against RB Leipzig about a month ago.
At the time, it seemed like a safe comment to make. But a shock defeat in Augsburg a week later saw the gap to BVB cut to a point. Both sides won their respective games last weekend, Bayern with a narrow victory over Bielefeld, and Dortmund picking up their annual 3 points at the Volkswagen Arena.
So what will Saturday bring us? A level of bitterness and needle for sure. Replying to Rummenigge's comment, Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke confirmed as much:
"Bayern are welcome to say that. We think differently. After Bayern went 5-0 in the cup, I didn't hear a Dortmund man say that we were already polishing the cup or something like that", he told 'Sport Bild'.
It's true to say that BVB are on an upward curve in the league. They have won 6 out of their last 7 league games despite a limp exit in the Champions league. FCB, on the other hand, have coasted through in Europe. But the loss to Augsburg have proven that they are not bulletproof. Still, the facts remain that the Bavarians have the upper hand in this fixture. They have won their last 6 in all competitions and have triumphed the last 3 times at Signal Iduna Park.
The loss of Joshua Kimmich in the midfield engine room has been a blow for Bayern. Meanwhile, Leon Goretzka emerged as a doubt on Wednesday as he missed training and visited the team doctor. He was back on the pitch on Thursday, but had to cut training short after around 30 minutes, per Bild.
The sight of Erling Haaland returning with a goal last weekend was beautiful for fans of 'Die Schwarzgelben'. They will need their Norwegian superstar fit and firing, and coach Marco Rose was certainly excited:
"Erling has made a good impression this week. He gives us a lot of energy when he's there. He's a difference maker that you can't replace in the long run".
He is certainly not wrong! But a certain Robert Lewandowski will be aiming to spoil the party. The battle between these powerhouse superstars will be worth the viewing alone.
In other news, Jude Bellingham is struggling to be fit from the knee injury picked up against Sporting, and Thorgan Hazard is still in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. But Raphael Guerreiro is making good progress and should be in contention. The sight of Giovanni Reyna back in training on Tuesday was another boost. But Saturday will surely come too soon.
|13||R. Guerreiro ↪82|
|19||J. Brandt ⚽ ↪69|
|8||M. Dahoud ↪60|
|9||E. Haaland ⚽ ↪82|
|11||M. Reus (C)|
|21||D. Malen ↩60|
|27||S. Tigges ↩82|
|14||N. Schulz ↩82|
|39||M. Wolf ↩69|
|1||M. Neuer (C)|
|21||L. Hernández ↪74|
|8||L. Goretzka ↪65|
|11||K. Coman ⚽ ↪88|
|10||L. Sané ↪65|
|9||R. Lewandowski ⚽⚽|
|7||S. Gnabry ↩65|
|4||N. Süle ↩74|
|23||T. Nianzou ↩88|
|42||J. Musiala ↩65|