Tomorrow will be April Fool’s Day: a day for silly pranks, joking news articles, and high-leverage matches that can decide the Bundesliga. In fact, it really doesn’t get any more high-leverage than this: Borussia Dortmund in first, Bayern Munich in second, with only a point separating them, with fewer than 10 games remaining in the Bundesliga.
If there were ever a time for a proper Klassiker, it would be tomorrow. Many iterations of Der Klassiker over the last decade have completely failed to live up to the moniker, especially at the Allianz Arena, where Dortmund have built an all-too-frequent habit of getting comprehensively destroyed by their Bavarian foes. The club has not defeated Bayern in any competition in Munich since 2017, when Ousmane Dembélé curled a perfect shot past Manuel Neuer to advance to the final round of the DFB Pokal. It hasn’t happened in the Bundesliga since 2014.
But if there’s one thing that BVB have proven over the last few years, it’s that when Edin Terzic is at the helm, this team isn’t going to go down without a fight. This fall saw the boys in Black-and-Yellow storm back from a 2-0 deficit to equalize at the last second at the Westfalenstadion. While it will be tougher to do it in front of a hostile Munich crowd, a winning effort could produce one of the most memorable nights in the club’s history. With a win, Dortmund can go from hopefuls for the Bundesliga title to serious contenders, and will keep their fates in their own hands, with a four point lead with only eight games remaining in the Bundesliga.
The FC Bayern Experience™
Doing so will require that Borussia Dortmund defeat Bayern Munich’s new manager, a man who needs no introduction to Borussia Dortmund fans:
To be clear, Julian Nagelsmann wasn’t spectacular as Bayern’s manager, but he wasn’t awful either. Despite losing Robert Lewandowski and suffering multiple serious losses due to injury like Manuel Neuer, Nagelsmann navigated Bayern through the Champions League group stage with flying colors, beat Paris Saint-Germain, and was poised to take on BVB down the stretch in the Bundesliga. His surprise firing in the middle of the international break came completely out of nowhere.
It’s still not entirely clear what drove Hasan Salihamidzic and Oliver Kahn to fire Nagelsmann. A plethora of reasons have been given for Bayern’s decision to fire Julian Nagelsmann, from the mundane and justifiable to the absurd:
- He skateboarded into work a few times
- His relationship with his girlfriend, a beat reporter for Bild
- He feuded with Manuel Neuer’s beloved goalkeeping coach
- They didn’t want to give up the chance to sign Thomas Tuchel
- The cardigan (okay I made this one up)
- He committed the cardinal sin of losing to Bayer Leverkusen (?)
Of these reasons, #4 seems like the big one, at least when it comes to the timing of this decision. Nagelsmann may have been on thin ice for other reasons, but the board would not have acted so rashly in the middle of the season if they didn’t have such a high-caliber replacement lined up.
At the end of the day, we have no idea how Thomas Tuchel will go about coaching his new squad, but what about Bayern’s players themselves? According to Bavarian Football Works’ match preview, Mathys Tel, Lucas Hernandez, and Manuel Neuer are going to be the key absences on Bayern’s end. Meanwhile, Leon Goretzka is training the squad, but it’s still possible that he will be left out of the starting XI if he isn’t fully healthy tomorrow.
BVB Starting XI
A major question mark headed into tomorrow’s game will be Karim Adeyemi. The young winger has been fantastic in the new year, despite his initial slow start to the season, but he is only just coming off a hamstring injury. Although Sebastian Kehl told the media earlier this week that Adeyemi is fully healthy and should be ready to go, I’m a bit skeptical that he will be fit enough to join the starting XI immediately after his injury. I’m going to play it safe and leave him out of my starting XI, although I would be pleasantly surprised to see him tomorrow.
In further good news, Gregor Kobel, who missed a string of matches prior to the international break with an injury, should be healthy and ready to join the squad against Bayern tomorrow. While Alexander Meyer held down the fort comfortably while Kobel was hurt, the Swiss keeper has been one of the best goalies in the entire Bundesliga this season, so his presence between the sticks will be an absolute must tomorrow.
Finally, Nico Schlotterbeck, who picked up a knock on international service with the German National Team, should be healthy in time for the game, according to Ruhr Nachrichten.
Ohhhhhhh boy. I’m very nervous about tomorrow’s game. How Bayern will play under Thomas Tuchel feels like a complete wild card: they could either come roaring out the gates, or find themselves struggling to work out the kinks of their new system. Either way, Edin Terzic has never failed to rally the troops against Bayern before, so I predict a close match. Ultimately, I would not be doing my job as the editor of this site without throwing in a little optimism, so I’m going to predict a wild 3-2 win that goes down in club history as one of the biggest results ever.