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Preview: FC Bayern vs. Borussia Dortmund

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In the marquee match-up of the Bundesliga's 2011-2012 season. These two clubs are first and second in the table; the 4-way race we were celebrating in February has collapsed, as Schalke and Monchengladbach have crashed back to earth while Bayern and Dortmund have continued to win. With Dortmund nursing a 3-point lead but Bayern looking strong in the past 6 weeks, this match will go a long way towards determining who hoists the trophy.

The Line-Up

Without naming an official line-up, Jupp Heynces promises to "throw everything" into the match. Since everyone is healthy (though Bastian still appears a step slow), this is probably a full A-team line-up. I'll guess as follows:

Gomez

Ribery - Mueller - Robben

Schweinsteiger - Gustavo

Alaba - Badstuber - Boateng - Lahm

Neuer

The obvious absence is Toni Kroos - we discussed this earlier today (or yesterday, depending on your time zone). Kroos plus Bastian at the CM spots is a very dangerous offensive line-up, but perhaps without as much defensive prowess. I imagine Gustavo will start, with Kroos ready to provide some instant offense either as a Bastian replacement, a Bastian partner, or perhaps even replacing Tommy or Robben up front.

The Opponent

No need to say too much here - we all know BVB. The defending Bundesliga champs are led by Mario Goetze, Shinji Kagawa, Sebastian Kehl, and Lewandowski, but for much of the season the strength has been in their defense: Mats Hummels and Nevan Subotic are among the world's best CB pairs, and Felipe Santana is the best backup defender in Germany. At this point last year, if you'd told me that they'd lose Sahin and Goetze would spend much of this season hurt, I'd have told you they would struggle just to stay in the top 3. Wouldn't have been the first time I was wrong.

I had this impression of BVB as having been in something of a slump the past month or so ... in fact, they haven't lost in since their last Champions League match in December. The only reason Bayern has been able to get within striking distance is Dortmund's two draws in March. But even those were nothing to be ashamed of - Augsburg is a solid club, as we saw last week, and VfB played an amazing match in fighting back twice to earn a draw two weeks ago.

I guess if I had to pick one weakness, it would be Weidenfeller, the 'keeper. Not that he's bad, he's very solid, just not spectacular. And in the recent draw vs. Stuttgart, I believe he allowed 4 goals without making a single save.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga

Today, Monchengladbach continued their slide with a draw vs. Werder Bremen. VfB Stuttgart is suddenly in the running for a CL spot, sitting only 7 points out of fourth after today's win over the Auggies.

At the bottom end of the table, 3 of the relegation battlers were in action today, and all lost (though Koeln looked the worst, getting crushed 4-0 to Mainz). Tomorrow, in addition to the big match-up at the top of table, Nurnberg and Hamburg are both at home with a chance to take a big step towards staying in the Bundesliga.

Final Thoughts

- Luckily, this match will be carried live on Gol! TV tomorrow - coverage starts at 2 PM. We'll be here with the Match Day Chat thread.

- As long as we're on the subject - if you're in a big chat thread with a lot of comments, you can click the "c" key to scroll through only NEW comments, and keep in mind you can "rec" another member's comment if you approve. 5 recs make it turn green.

- If you're not busy, stick with Gol! TV after the match for some scouting - Real Madrid takes on Atletico immediately following.

If I forgot anything, or if you have anything important to add, leave it in the comments or email me at bayern.offside@yahoo.com. Thanks for reading.