Yet another narrative going into a Klassiker.
Usually when these two teams meet, Bayern Munich are trying to shoo away the bumblebee that is Borussia Dortmund before it stings them. Dortmund's priority now appears to be to find the nectar to make their product on the field sweet again.
Even though it seems Bayern has gotten the upper hand against Dortmund frequently since their Treble season, Bayern have only won half of their matches against Dortmund since the start of the 2012/13 season. Four of those victories for Bayern came at the pinnacle of competitions though – 2012 Supercup, 2012/13 DFB-Pokal Quarterfinal, 2012/13 UEFA Champions League Final, 2013/14 DFB-Pokal Final – but this Bundesliga match day is not one of them.
This could be a trap game for Bayern as they head into UEFA Champions League Competition at midweek.
The Match (107th Meeting)
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Head: Manuel Gräfe
FC Bayern: 19 W, 7 D, 7 L – 67 YC, 2 Y/R, 1 RC
Assistants: Guido Kleve, Thorsten Schiffner
Fourth Official: Markus Schmidt
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
Television and Streaming:
UK: BT Sport 1
Germany: Sky Bundesliga 1 | HD, Sky Go
FC Bayern: WDWWW
Borussia Dortmund (2-0) Bayern Munich | August 13, 2014 (DFL-Supercup)
BVB: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (23’), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (67’)
Bundesliga: 39 W, 28 D, 23 L
DFB-Pokal: 5 W, 0 D, 2 L
UEFA Champions League: 1 W, 1 D, 1 L
DFL Supercup: 1 W, 3 L
Ligapokal: 2 W, 0 L
Largest Victory: 11-1 (Bundesliga: November 27, 1971, Munich)
Largest Defeat: 3-6 (Bundesliga: September 9, 1967, Dortmund)
Even though the start of Bayern's season has not been the smoothest, the club is arguably in a better position this season than the previous two. That has more to do with some of their opponents faltering in all three competitions, but Bayern's squad is also deeper and more adaptable than it has ever been.
Perhaps a few years ago, the loss of Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben would have been detrimental to the team, especially going into a match against Dortmund. This season, however, neither could play and Bayern would still be odds-on favorites to take the Klassiker. Robben practiced earlier this week and is questionable for the match, and Ribéry's playability could come down to what Guardiola thinks his fitness level is at. If either one play, it will be gravy on top of what is already a tasty entrée.
The one thing that is different when Robbery is not on the field is the lack of attacking punch. While not really know for playing to forwards, Guardiola has deployed Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller more as a partnership, with Mario Götze playing off of them as well. Those players have performed at a high level so far this season, but not without the Robbery factor – Bayern have scored 8 goals in seven matches when neither Ribéry nor Robben start, as opposed to 29 goals in eight matches when one of them does.
Guardiola has been playing all of his fullbacks, allowing them to interchange on the flanks and win balls in higher positions to keep the play in the attacking third. David Alaba and Philipp Lahm have been agile ball winners, encasing the club's conductor Xabi Alonso as he orchestrates the play. That alone has taken substantial pressure off of Bayern's center backs, whether it is Mehdi Benatia or Dante who start next to Jérôme Boateng.
Bayern have struggled to break down top Bundesliga sides before, but whether Dortmund is one is a whole other debate.
Projected Lineup (4-3-1-2):
Robert Lewandowski – Thomas Müller
David Alaba – Xabi Alonso – Philipp Lahm
Juan Bernat – Jérôme Boateng – Mehdi Benatia – Rafinha
Bench: Leopold Zingerle, Dante, Sebastian Rode, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Franck Ribéry, Xherdan Shaqiri, Claudio Pizarro
What an odd season Dortmund have begun with, one that their players, their opponents, or their fans would have expected. Dominant in the knockout competitions, the Schwarzgelben's league campaign will not turn over to get the engine revving like years past. Several have plowed into Dortmund to try and dig up an explanation, but it could be a very simple one.
Jürgen Klopp has had to juggle many squad losses over the past two seasons, both due to injury and due to transfer. Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan missed critical Bundesliga matches, and injury woes have not allowed them to restore their form. Key players like Ilkay Gündogan and Sven Bender have returned, but the team has had the time to gel together like it did in the trophy days.
It does not help that Lewandowski has left a vacuum at the top, one that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ciro Immobile, and Adrian Ramos have yet to fill. Klopp has tried more two-striker sets to mask the blemish, but that has left their midfield and defense exposed and their build-up play stagnant.
What has not changed is Dortmund's ability to get crucial chances in the attacking third. Shinji Kagawa's homecoming has been relatively successful considering he could not break into Manchester United's team. Kagawa adds to a decently deep front that is third in shots per game, but finishing chances remain an issue with just 10 goals in the Bundesliga.
Being an underdog could be a good position to play from, but seeing Bayern's efficiency and power cannot be a settling sight.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Marco Reus – Shinji Kagawa – Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Ilkay Gündogan – Sven Bender
Sokratis Papastathopoulos – Mats Hummels – Neven Subotić – Łukasz Piszczek
Bench: Mitchell Langerak, Matthias Ginter, Erik Durm, Sebastian Kehl, Kevin Großkreutz, Ciro Immobile, Adrian Ramos
There is no doubt in my mind that Dortmund will show up for this match, but that still might not be enough. Their best chance is to try and expose Boateng and Benatia on the counterattack, but with ball-winners in midfield for Bayern, that will be hard to do. If Papastathopoulos in fact plays fullback, Guardiola could overload the right flank to try and expose him. Dortmund will make this match appear close, but it ultimately will be Bayern in the drivers seat.