Tomorrow evening will mark the first time this season that Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, two of Germany’s strongest clubs, face off head-to-head. As the reigning DFB-Pokal and Bundesliga champions respectively, these two clubs will challenge for the DFB Supercup, a competition whose status can range between an irrelevant preseason tin cup trophy if you lose, to a trophy equal to the Bundesliga and DFB Cup if you win. Whether or not you care about the actual trophy is ultimately up to you, but one thing’s for sure: you never, ever, want to pass on an opportunity to beat your biggest in-league rivals.
Bayern Munich have had an interesting offseason. They did some great work last spring signing RB Leipzig’s star center back Dayot Upamecano, and replaced Hansi Flick with arguably their best possible alternative in Julian Nagelsmann, but they’ve since failed to follow up with any additional significant acquisitions. This fact has rankled some of their supporters, many of whom have loudly demanded more transfers. This has left Bayern with remarkably little turnover from last season.
Unfortunately for Bayern, the Julian Nagelsmann era in Munich has gotten off to a poor start, both in preseason and in their first game of the Bundesliga. They drew Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday afternoon to kick off their season, and although they dominated several stretches during the middle of the game, there were equally many opportunities for the Foals to grab a winner against Bayern. The Bavarians haven’t hit their stride yet, so maybe tomorrow could be a great opportunity to grab a victory over them, both to win an extra trophy, and to further hinder their momentum in the early stage of the season.
Even without many new signings, Bayern are still very dangerous and boast a world class squad that is largely identical to the squad that won them the treble a few years ago. Beating them will be tough. Unfortunately, Borussia Dortmund will have to do so without about half of their regular first-squad players and other depth players, including:
- Raphael Guerreiro
- Mats Hummels
- Thorgan Hazard
- Emre Can
- Julian Brandt
- Thomas Meunier
- Dan-Axel Zagadou
All these injuries mean that we will likely see a piecemeal squad, similar to the one that faced Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga on Saturday. The one difference is that with Thorgan Hazard injured, Donyell Malen will be pressed into a starting role. This means that we might see a formation switch, closer to the 4-1-2-1-2 that we expected to see when Marco Rose took over this summer:
If you’re nervous about that back line going up against Bayern Munich, you’re not alone. Axel Witsel was decent if unspectacular against Eintracht Frankfurt, but he will be challenged even more tomorrow. Felix Passlack had a hard enough time on Saturday against Frankfurt’s mediocre attack. He’ll have his hands full tomorrow with Serge Gnabry running at him.
Overall, my mindset tomorrow is one of apprehension. I don’t have much faith in the back line to keep Bayern out, but we saw on Saturday that Erling Haaland and the rest of BVB’s forwards are capable of scoring in buckets. No matter what happens tomorrow, there will be plenty of goals to go around.