All eyes will be on the German Der Klassiker this weekend as Borussia Dortmund have a chance to make the Bundesliga title chase interesting again by closing the gap behind their arch rivals to two points. Bayern made a mess out of their title defence by losing at home to Mainz, and they cannot afford another defeat.
Jurgen Klopp left some big shoes to fill when he left for Liverpool, but it is now clear the club chiefs have found him a perfect successor in Thomas Tuchel. Both men enjoyed successful spells with Mainz before arriving at Signal-Iduna Park and both have quickly won over the fans. Even though there were some initial struggles, Borussia Dortmund turned on the style after the winter break, winning nine of ten competitive matches in 2016. With a little help from Tuchel’s former club, the Millionaires closed the gap behind Bayern Munich to five points, and if they manage to beat the Bavarians on Saturday afternoon, they will have a realistic chance of lifting the coveted trophy. Borussia have been thoroughly impressive of late, winning seven fixtures on the bounce, conceding just two goals in the process, although the 3-2-5 record in last ten meetings with Bayern Munich is enough to suggest they are still in for a difficult task.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos continues to miss out through injury, meaning that Sven Bender will again partner Mats Hummels in the heart of defence.
There are no other selection worries for coach Thomas Tuchel, with Kagawa, Mkhitaryan, Reus and Aubameyang all set to start.
Bayern Munich remains a force to be reckoned with in both Germany and Europe, but not even they are immune to injury crisis like the one that has been creating problems for Pep Guardiola for several months. The Bavarians have seen quite a few important defenders pick up serious injuries, and while Serdar Tasci arrived as an emergency signing, he would soon join the infirmary as well. Defensive problems appear to have destabilized the team and it is evident that Bayern are no longer as convincing as they were in the first part of the season. The record of six conceded goals in last five fixtures is pretty disappointing for their standards, and chances are that 2-1 home loss to Mainz will place extra pressure on Pep Guardiola’s charges, despite the fact that his side were very unfortunate not to get anything from the midweek game. The visitors are aware that their attack will have to compensate for defensive issues, so everything suggests we will see another cracking Der Klassiker this weekend.
Mehdi Benatia has recovered from injury, but Joshua Kimmich looks set to keep his place alongside David Alaba at the back.
Holger Badstuber, Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng, Tom Starke, Julian Green and Milos Pantovic are all sidelined through injury.
Key Factors to Consider
- Over 2.5 goals were scored in seven of last ten Der Klassiker matches
- Bayern Munich have three wins in last four meetings with Borussia
- Dortmund have ten wins in last eleven matches at home
- Bayern won four of last five Bundesliga fixtures on the road
- Aubameyang and Lewandowski have scored 45 goals between them
Borussia Dortmund are in excellent form at the moment and knowing all too well that only a win keeps them in the title chase, the Millionaires can be trusted to adopt a positive approach. Bayern Munich have major problems at the back and the only solution is to take control of the game and attack as much as possible.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 2/3