Borussia Dortmund, fresh off two straight defeats in the Bundesliga come to the Allianz Arena in Munich to take on FC Bayern Munich on Saturday. The match will now air live (good job readers!) on GOLTV at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time. Of note for those of you anticipating the Champions League matchup, Fox Soccer Channel will be airing the Serie A match between Sampdoria and Fiorentina at 2:30 p.m. Eastern. You could certainly make yourself a sandwich, or order another round and then settle back in for some advance scouting.
Dortmund are in a bit of a strange place right now. They had won 6 matches in a row and charged up the table. Then they got their asses kicked in Stuttgart, and followed that up with a home loss to Frankfurt last week. They have had to put together some makeshift lineups due to injury, but they may be near full strength again this weekend. Keeper Roman Weidenfeller is not a sure starter yet, but if fit, will reclaim his spot from back up Mark Ziegler. Former 1860 youngster Sven Bender is also nearly ready to go and could reclaim his midfield spot. The best fitness report for Dortmund is on Kuba. The Polish right midfielder always seems to bring his best game against Bayern, and he will be available for selection. Dortmund will definitely be without Nelson Valdez, suspended due to his 5th yellow last week.
The stats tell you that Dortmund is a team that can’t finish matches. Although they maintain an overall +4 goal difference, if you merely look at their 2nd half goal difference, you will come out with a -7. They’re also quite reliant on Lucas Barrios for their scoring. When you look beyond Barrios’ 11 goals, the next high scorer is former Bayern youth player, Mats Hummels. Much like Daniel van Buyten, the 1.91m (6ft 3in) central defender often finds himself with a moment of header-opportunity in front of goal, as he did in the earlier match against Bayern this season.
Fortunately, Van Buyten should be well enough to resume his duties and get his head on any corner before Hummels. It’s tricky to predict, but it looks like Bayern’s regular starters will be ready for Saturday. Van Buyten, Butt and Schweinsteiger all participated in the “rump squad” training on Thursday. As of this writing, it appeared that Klose and Pranjic were the two most likely to be unavailable, with Pranjic mainly fighting the stomach virus making its rounds in the locker room. Olic, also said to be fighting the virus, did an individual running session on Thursday. It’s probably going to be wait and see with those 3 guys. Once again, the Bayern II match for the weekend was canceled, and Louis van Gaal will have the full compliment of youngsters to choose from in an emergency.
Update:On Friday, it was reported that Klose would miss the match, along with Lell who seems to be the newest victim of the stomach virus. All the others appear to be available, although Alaba will be left out of the squad.
I don’t know what Louis van Gaal has in mind for Ribery on Saturday, but I can tell you this: Saturday is the day you’re going to see a lot more of the Ribery you remember from seasons past. If I recall, I harped on the same match up in the first match between these teams. Patrick Owomoyela is not going to be able to stop many Ribery runs down the left. In fact, Owomoyela has been downright awful over the course of these last two losses for Dortmund. Although many a player pulls together their best match against Bayern, I don’t see it happening here. The only question is whose arms Ribery might jump into this time, because it seems unlikely it’ll be Van Gaal’s.
With fingers crossed, we can report this match may be somewhat less affected by weather. The later kickoff ensures that the match will start in below freezing temperatures, but the latest forecast models indicate that the main snowfall may be over by the time the match starts. No, I will not make a weather prediction in addition to a match prediction!
In 2005, I saw my last match at the Olympiastadion; with Ballack out of the lineup, Bayern didn’t miss a beat and dismantled Dortmund 5-0. It’s a very fond memory, but it always makes me a little biased in judging Dortmund’s strength when they visit. Then again, Dortmund haven’t won in Munich in nearly 20 years. Assuming Bayern have their full compliment of starters, and Dortmund have most if not all of theirs, I think it will be a fair fight, but we’ll still see the superior team pull away.
FC Bayern Munich 3:1 Borussia Dortmund