Tomorrow brings us Der Klassiker which for the better part of a decade has been the best game the Bundesliga has to offer. This year though, the game has a distinctly different feel. Neither Dortmund or Bayern have been quite as great as in years past. The Black and Yellows are currently sitting 9 points behind Leipzig with a game in hand. As per Ancelotti tradition his team is underachieving domestically and now sit behind Red Bulls in second with a game in hand.
To be fair to both teams, some major stars have missed significant time. Our record summer signing, Andre Schürrle, Portuguese utility man Raphael Guerreiro, club captain Marcel Schmelzer, and of course world beater Marco Reus have rarely if ever played this season for Dortmund. In Munich, Ribery, Robben, Coman, Martinez, Boateng, and Vidal have struggled for fitness this season. Between the two teams, that list of players would contend for any trophy in world football.
Expecting many of these stars to come back following the international break, this game could come down to match fitness. On incoming form alone, Dortmund would appear to have the edge. The last match week they hammered lowly Hamburg 5-2 in what may have been their best offensive game this season. BVB’s young guns have expectedly been inconsistent but boy ooh boy were they firing against Hamburg. Bayern on the other hand are coming off a frustrating 1-1 draw against a scruffy overachieving Hoffenheim side.
Ultimately though Der Klassiker will come down to the players on the field so let’s talk lineups. Dortmund’s social media has thrown out their notoriously unreliable lineup prediction.
So könnten sie spielen // This is how they might line-up for tomorrow’s #bvbfcb pic.twitter.com/zZK9kLe29Y— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) November 18, 2016
Bayern’s starting XI looks about right especially since Robben and Martinez have already been ruled out of the match. I don’t think BVB will line up like the tweet at all. A 4-1-4-1 has left Weigl on an island time and time again. The closest formation I could see to the above graphic would be a 4-2-3-1 with Bartra instead of Ginter, Guerreiro next to Weigl, and Pulisic instead of Dembele. In my opinion that would be the strongest lineup we could field. I don’t think we’ll see the back 3 that Tuchel used last year. It invited wave after wave of attack and further, against another super team in Real Madrid, in the Champions League this year we rolled with a 4-2-3-1.
Clearly lineups have a huge impact on tactics. Tuchel learned his lesson in his first Der Klassiker not to just make Dortmund a human pressure gauge. I’m hopeful we’ll see a BVB team that sits a bit deeper than a normal Bundesliga game but still tries to win the possession battle and is proactive in attack. Sad as it may be, given our injuries, lack of form, and inconsistency, I would be happy with a draw against Bayern Munich.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Bayern Munich.