The Bundesliga title will not be decided at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, but both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund can take giant steps towards besting their rivals.
Dortmund lead the way with a two-point advantage from Bayern, who slipped up at Freiburg last weekend, but Lucien Favre’s men have looked nervy at times in recent weeks.
Bayern, of course, have made a habit of plucking away Dortmund’s leading lights in the last few years and, assuming he recovers from illness, Robert Lewandowski will lead the line.
The Poland striker is one away from scoring his 200th Bundesliga goal and is a mandatory pick in our combined XI for Der Klassiker, but who else makes the cut?
GOALKEEPER: Roman Burki
It has been a difficult season for Manuel Neuer, whose long-held status as Germany’s number one has come under threat after some erratic displays. Roman Burki is therefore selected almost by default, but eight clean sheets and 72 per cent of the shots he has faced being saved earns his place.
RIGHT-BACK: Joshua Kimmich
Kimmich’s haul of 10 assists in the Bundesliga this season is remarkable and it is no wonder he has strongly suggested he wants to play in midfield rather than at the back. Kimmich’s 1,993 passes in the Bundesliga this season is more than any other player.
World class goal line clearance from Joshua Kimmich pic.twitter.com/UqzYRf97p3
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) February 27, 2019
CENTRE-BACK: Niklas Sule
Sule is not far behind Kimmich, recording 1,913 passes, and the centre-back has become a key part of the Bayern back line, taking Jerome Boateng’s regular place. A rare sour note in his breakthrough Bayern campaign was the first red card of his career, collected against Heidenheim in the DFB-Pokal this week.
CENTRE-BACK: Manuel Akanji
Injury issues have marred Akanji’s season but he has arguably been Dortmund’s star defender despite being restricted to 18 Bundesliga appearances. His passing accuracy is among Dortmund’s highest in the Bundesliga so far this term, while he has won 61.3 per cent of his duels.
Great news, Manuel Akanji’s injury will not require surgery and he will return to training after a brief recovery break to help us in the second half of the season pic.twitter.com/Ky61mQXUh9
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) January 14, 2019
LEFT-BACK: Achraf Hakimi
Dortmund’s loan deal for full-back Hakimi has been a roaring success, but he will be absent on Saturday due to injury. A broken metatarsal means the Real Madrid defender is unlikely to play again this season, but Dortmund will still be keen to seal a permanent deal for the 20-year-old, who has been tracked at 35.1km/h this season, making him BVB’s fastest player.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Leon Goretzka
Bayern’s sole midfield representative is Goretzka, who won January’s Bundesliga player of the month award in recognition of his fine form at the start of the year. With six goals and four assists in the league this season, the former Schalke star has shone for Niko Kovac’s side. He is a major threat in the air that Dortmund will have to defend against.
Three goals in two games sees Goretzka land the #BundesligaPOTM award for January
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) February 15, 2019
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Axel Witsel
Few signings in Europe’s top five leagues this season can claim to have Witsel’s impact, the Belgium midfielder proving the key piece in the puzzle for Favre after joining from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian. He has started 25 Bundesliga games, scoring three times, while his accurate passing – comparable to Akanji’s – has been key for BVB.
ATTACKING MIDFIELD: Marco Reus
Dortmund captain Reus has been remarkably consistent this term and the birth of his child before the game means he is free to lead his side against Bayern. Only Paco Alcacer has scored more than Reus’ 15 Bundesliga goals for Dortmund this season, while a further six assists is a mark of the creativity he provides. Reus is a big-game player, too, having hit a brace in the reverse fixture. He has scored 10 goals in 24 appearances against Bayern.
RIGHT WING: Jadon Sancho
Sancho has been nothing short of a revelation for Dortmund this season, with the England international linked with a £100million move back to the Premier League. He has produced a combined 21 goals and assists for Dortmund, level with Reus, and it is frightening to think how good the 19-year-old could become. Sancho’s 13 assists in the Bundesliga is easily the most in the league this term and his skills dazzle defenders on a regular basis.
Another massive achievement for me, making my competitive debut! What a way to kick off our Euro2020 qualifying campaign! Congratulations to my bro @Calteck10 making his England debut n my big bro getting @sterling7 . @England pic.twitter.com/ZbGVKW1kZU
— Jadon Sancho (@Sanchooo10) March 23, 2019
STRIKER: Robert Lewandowski
Lewandowski was too ill to start in the DFB-Pokal this week, but came off the bench at half-time to score twice and provide an assist for Thomas Muller, with his late penalty sealing a 5-4 victory and semi-final spot. He is the league’s top goalscorer on 19 this season and a further seven assists show he is unselfish too. No player has fired more than Lewandowski’s 107 shots in the Bundesliga this season, while he has haunted his old club regularly, having scored eight times in his last four Bundesliga appearances against Dortmund.
Name a better striker in the world right now
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) March 9, 2019
LEFT WING: Serge Gnabry
With Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben approaching the end of their glittering careers, Bayern have needed young talent to break through in wide positions and Gnabry has done just that, becoming a key player for both club and country. The former Arsenal attacker has scored seven Bundesliga goals, but has never tasted victory in the league in his four appearances against BVB.
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