Borussia Dortmund head to the Allianz Arena on Saturday for what could be a decisive showdown in this season’s Bundesliga title race.
Late goals secured a 2-0 win over Wolfsburg last time out, a result that moved Lucien Favre’s side two points clear at the top, with Bayern Munich slipping up in a 1-1 draw at Freiburg.
Dortmund prevailed 3-2 in the reverse fixture in November, but Bayern have won 13 of their 16 league games since then to propel themselves firmly back into Germany’s most interesting title battle in recent years.
But who will lift the trophy? Two Omnisport writers go head to head to (try to) settle the debate…
#DerKlassiker Weather Forecast
It’s bright and sunny in Munich today, perfect weather for a bike ride pic.twitter.com/5zZ6sFiPis
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) April 2, 2019
DORTMUND BELIEVE – SO SHOULD EVERYONE ELSE
By Joe Wright
“In the last 15 minutes, we absolutely wanted to score a goal and so we took a bit more of a risk,” said Favre post-Wolfsburg. And score they did.
Paco Alcacer’s last-gasp double means Dortmund head to Munich knowing that anything but a defeat will keep them top of the table with six games to go.
The last few minutes of that Wolfsburg game typified Dortmund under Favre: bold, impetuous, and, yes, imperfect. But they were good enough to win the match, and they are good enough to win the league. And they believe it.
Dortmund twice came from behind against Bayern in November, again thanks to Alcacer. They have won five league games this season after conceding the first goal. “We always keep battling, we have a lot of belief in ourselves,” as Thomas Delaney said.
Okay, they had a rotten run in February that saw their lead at the top eroded and ended their DFB-Pokal and Champions League challenges, but the argument of a lack of experience holding them back in the title race just does not hold water.
Marco Reus and Mario Gotze have won domestic trophies, while the latter netted the winning goal in the World Cup final. Axel Witsel is a league champion in two countries. Alcacer, Lukasz Piszczek and Marcel Schmelzer have bulging trophy cabinets. Christian Pulisic and Jadon Sancho might not, but when has that ever stopped them leaving defenders in their wake?
Favre’s side is a strong marriage of youthful exuberance and established quality. It is something Bayern are trying to be once again, if their recruitment drive of young talent is anything to go by. And if Bayern think a model is worth copying, then it’s one that works well.
Dortmund could get a hand on the trophy if they beat Bayern, and they’ll take the risk to get those three points. But even if they don’t, they won’t think the title race is over. It’s that belief – in their chances, their tactics and their style – that will carry them to glory.
#DerKlassiker Weather Forecast
Munich can expect thunderbolts and lightning strikes today, provided by Storm Guerreiro pic.twitter.com/qdil1pKeYm
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) April 1, 2019
BAYERN ARE SERIAL WINNERS – THAT FREIBURG DRAW MEANS NOTHING
By Guy Atkinson
If you think Bayern are going to give up a seventh consecutive Bundesliga crown easily, think again.
Had they not slipped up at Freiburg at the weekend, few would have argued against them coming out on top against Dortmund, puffing out their chests and sauntering towards another title.
As it is, that surprise draw has given their rivals a points advantage and perhaps the whiff of a vulnerability ready to be exploited.
Do not write off the Bavarian juggernaut just yet, though.
After the weekend draw, head coach Niko Kovac said: “We have to show Dortmund that we want to become champions and I expect us to put them under pressure and be aggressive.” I expect them to as well.
This is a side that has domestic dominance woven into its very fabric, a side that sneers at challengers and swats them aside with arrogance, aggression and no little skill.
Despite that Freiburg result, this is still a Bayern side in rude Bundesliga health. Since that 3-2 defeat to Favre’s men five months ago, they have stumbled in just three games – a run that saw them devour the nine-point lead Dortmund had opened up after gameweek 15.
No-one is pretending that this is a vintage Bayern team. At times this season, they have looked laboured and uninspired. What they do have, though, is an army of serial winners to call upon.
Expect Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben et al to do what they do best on Saturday and stamp their authority all over this title race.
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