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Bundesliga Preview: Topspiel, Der Klassiker, Dortmund vs Bayern

BVB and Bayern Munich face off in a pivotal match in the title race.

Borussia Dortmund v FC Bayern Muenchen - Supercup 2021 Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Forget the Revierderby, the Champions League, and RB Leipzig. When it comes to the last 10 years, this has been the match that Borussia Dortmund fans have either anticipated, or dreaded, the most. It’s Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund: the Bundesliga’s #1 vs #2, the Topspiel.

For Borussia Dortmund, this matchup hasn’t gone particularly well in recent history, especially in the Bundesliga, where BVB have failed to defeat their rivals since 2018, when a comeback effort from BVB culminated in Paco Alcacer chipping Manuel Neuer in glorious fashion:

Both squads have changed dramatically since then. On BVB’s end, Jadon Sancho, Lukasz Piszczek, and Paco Alcacer are gone, while Franck Ribery, Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng, and David Alaba have departed Munich. What hasn’t changed, however, is that both sides are still the two best clubs in Germany, and are locking horns in the 2021-22 Bundesliga title race.

Unfortunately for all the neutral fans, it looks like neither club will be at anything resembling full strength. Borussia Dortmund’s injury woes have improved in the last few weeks, especially relative to the squad’s sorry state in October and early November. While Erling Haaland is now healthy enough to make the squad, it seems unlikely that he will play the full 90 minutes tomorrow. Manuel Akanji and Jude Bellingham only returned to training in the last few days and will be questionable on Saturday, while Thorgan Hazard and Youssoufa Moukoko are definitively going to miss the game.

Bayern’s injury situation is arguably worse. Joshua Kimmich is still in quarantine with COVID, while Marcel Sabitzer has been injured for a few weeks with a calf injury and can’t play. Furthermore, according to INNN at Bavarian Football Works, both Serge Gnabry and Leon Goretzka are questionable for the game.

I’ve long given up trying to predict lineups because there are often way too many gametime decisions to be able to foresee, so instead I’ll show my ideal lineup, which assumes that all the players deemed “questionable” are actually able to play:

The key to playing Bayern tomorrow will be to take advantage of the bench players, especially Corentin Tolisso, who will play in place of Kimmich and Goretzka. Mahmoud Dahoud, Emre Can, and especially Jude Bellingham are BVB’s best counter-pressers and the most likely to create quick turnovers that can spring quick vertical counterattacks. We’ve seen multiple times that getting Haaland into footraces against Bayern’s defenders can be a recipe for success

But the biggest key to the game is to not literally hand Bayern a win by doing stupid shit like this:

As long as BVB can avoid any massive errors like that, I think they could have a shot tomorrow.

Score Prediction

Eh, screw it, nobody will care if I’m wrong anyway. I’ll say 3-2 BVB, and Haaland gets a brace with Reus adding another.