Der Klassiker is finally here. Dortmund and Bayern Munich face off on Saturday, 12:30 Eastern time at Allianz Arena in a rematch of what was likely the game of the Bundesliga season so far.
Back in November, Dortmund came away with the win behind a clutch goal from Paco Alcacer in what was an epic back and forth. This time around the title race picture is in better focus, and it is clear this game may be the deciding factor in who walks away with the trophy come season’s end.
Dortmund’s lead in the table seemed to evaporate so quickly at the beginning of the second half of the season with Bayern taking control in recent weeks, but in a surprising turn of events it appears this game may be more of a must win for the Bavarians after their slip up against Freiburg. Maybe they can afford a five point deficit with ten games remaining, but the nerves and the doubt would certainly begin to creep in if they lost to Dortmund outright a second time.
For a team that was getting back on track injury wise, the match against Wolfsburg was certainly disheartening for Dortmund. Achraf Hakimi has been ruled out for the season while Paco Alcacer and Raphael Guerreiro will not be in the line up against Bayern. The defense is wearing thin with Lukasz Piszczek unlikely to return this week either. In better news, Marco Reus should be back after becoming a father last weekend.
The injuries will leave Favre with difficult decisions to make yet again in the most important game of the season. If you missed it, now would be a good time to take a look back at Gregory Horn’s article from earlier in the week about what we may see lineup and tactics wise from BVB this weekend. The tactical decisions made by Favre will be the difference in this game as Dortmund currently looks out manned talent wise.
Bayern should be their same familiar selves. The team is relatively healthy with David Alaba seemingly set to play and Manuel Neuer looking ready to make a return to the lineup. No breaks will fall Dortmund’s way in this regard.
With such an important game set to be played this weekend, I think now is a good opportunity to take a deep breath and appreciate what this Dortmund team has become. This is a team that clinched the fourth spot in the final game of the season last year. This is a team that seemingly didn’t make any flashy signings in the off-season and opted for building blocks over overpriced stars. This was a year we hoped to see improvement and perhaps a solid second place finish.
Yeah, they blew a lead, but it’s Bayern Munich, it was never going to be that simple, and they were never supposed to have a lead in the first place. At the end of the day, we get to see Marco Reus and Dortmund take on the six time defending champions, injuries and all, in an incredibly meaningful game of a title race. What more could you ask for?
Sit back and relax while you have the chance, because starting tomorrow this final stretch of the season is going to get wild.
Prediction: Draw 2-2
I don’t have it in me to predict a loss for Dortmund. While they are undermanned, I truly believe they have more fight in them than Bayern and have shown their will power in the closing minutes the past couple of weeks. I think Reus will do everything within his power to keep the game close and Dortmund will come away with a draw.