The Klassiker took a year hiatus, but two unbeaten starts brought the magic of Germany's biggest rivalry back. Though there is not Schweinsteiger or Klopp, the fixture still has some pop.
Coming off their tenth consecutive victory in all competition, the clash in the Allianz presents the Rekordmeister with a tremendous opportunity. Borussia Dortmund embodies Bayern Munich's biggest threat to their fourth straight title, the grand slam that has eluded Bayern three times before. Their eighth straight Bundesliga victory would give them a seven-point lead at the beginning of October, a strong margin that will be difficult for anyone to surmount.
Two detailed-oriented managers will be going head to head, making in-match adjustments to counter one another. Their tactical battle will provide the spectators with many plot twists as part of the continuing Klassiker narrative.
The Match (110th Meeting)
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Head: Marco Fritz
FC Bayern: 10 W, 1 D, 0 L – 9 YC, 1 RC
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Television and Streaming:
US: Fox Sports 2 | HD, GolTV, Fox Sports GO, Fox Soccer 2Go
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UK: BT Sport Europe
Germany: Sky Bundesliga 1&3 | HD, Sky Go, TeleClub Sport Live
FC Bayern: WWWWW
Bundesliga: 41 W, 28 D, 23 L
DFB Pokal: 5 W, 0 D, 3 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)
Perhaps Robert Lewandowski's white-hot form is pushing Bayern to their victories, but a team does not win 10 straight matches with just one player. The striker's latest hat trick against Dinamo Zagreb gave him 10 goals in three matches, yet he may not have been the best player who took the field on Tuesday.
The unstable part of Bayern's victories was their defense. Pep Guardiola tried to staple over Bayern's center back depth issues by having David Alaba play center back, but that solution may have worn thin. He can call Alaba the best center back in the world all he wants, but he cannot reject the possibility of playing two center backs against one of the best offenses in Germany.
Due to his new abundance of forwards, Guardiola has wanted to use as many of them as possible, even if the buildup suffers in midfield. However, the logical thing to do against Dortmund is to try to break up their desire for possession with pressing players like Arturo Vidal. By the same token, Dortmund does not play with the defensive holding midfielder much anymore, which gives Guardiola the opportunity to overwhelm their defense with his attacking talent.
Vidal's fitness will dictate both aspects of Guardiola's tactical schemes. His presence in midfield lessens the need for Alaba's presence in the middle. Guardiola also cannot reasonably sit Thiago at this point in time considering the form he is in, so a midfield would have to consist of both players.
Depth was an issue the last time these two teams met, but Bayern's new pieces gives the home crowd exciting possibilities for the result.
Projected Lineup (4-3-3):
Douglas Costa – Robert Lewandowski – Thomas Müller
Thiago Alcantara – Xabi Alonso – Arturo Vidal
David Alaba – Jerome Boateng – Javi Martinez – Philipp Lahm
Bench: Sven Ulreich, Juan Bernat, Rafinha, Joshua Kimmich, Sebastian Rode, Mario Götze, Kingsley Coman
Out/Suspended: Holger Badstuber (thigh), Medhi Benatia (thigh), Jan Kirchhoff (ankle), Franck Ribery (ankle), Arjen Robben (muscle injuries)
Thomas Tuchel's tinkering has restarted Dortmund's propellers, and they have soared back to the heights of title contention because of it. The propellers may be running low on fuel though, and three consecutive draws may lead to the Schwarzgelben crashing back down to earth.
Tuchel's methodical, mapped-out one-touch system was difficult for many of their early opponents to keep up with, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Shinji Kagawa, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang benefitted greatly from it. For once, the injury loss of Marco Reus did not hurt as much either, a strong indicator of how balanced the squad has become.
The piece still missing is the defensive aspect, one former manager Jürgen Klopp used to focus on in the preseason. The retirement of Sebastian Kehl did not bring another defensive holding midfielder, but rather 20-year-old Julian Weigl who excels more as a deep-lying distributor. Though Dortmund has more build-up avenues than they did under Klopp, the lack of a strong defensive presence like Sven Bender has exposed the individual deficiencies of the defenders. That alone is what has caused them to allow Darmstadt and Hoffenheim to pry points away from them, and why Dortmund could not recover in time to stop Róbert Mak from finding the opener for PAOK on Thursday.
Also, Tuchel will have a difficult time if he approaches this match the way he has others, trying to out-possess and out-maneuver Bayern's fluid defense. One should never question a detailed-oriented manager, for if he can get Mainz to the Europa League, he can find away to use his top class players against one of the best clubs in the world.
Dortmund really only need a result in Munich in order to remain within touching distance of a title, and draws are something they have become good at attaining in recent weeks.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Marco Reus – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Shinji Kagawa
İlkay Gündoğan – Julian Weigl – Gonzalo Castro
Marcel Schmelzer – Mats Hummels – Sokratis Papastathopoulos – Matthias Ginter
Bench: Roman Weidenfeller, Neven Subotić, Lukasz Piszczek, Sven Bender, Henrikh Mkhitaryan , Jonas Hofmann, Adrain Ramos
Out/Suspended: Erik Durm (knee), Nuri Şahin (knee)
Though both teams are in very good form at the moment, Bayern have to at least be tipped to win. Why? The confines of the Allianz are hard for any club to overcome. Dortmund will come out very strong, and unlike previous Bayern opponents, they may not tire when the second half rolls around. Even so, Lewandowski's finishing is in top form, and his movement will be a tough task for his former mates to contain. The match will have a lot of pop to it, but ultimately it will be Bayern who sparkles.
The Other Action
SV Darmstadt 98 vs. 1. FSV Mainz 05 (Friday, 2:30 PM ET)
FC Ingolstadt 04 vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Hannover 96 vs. SV Werder Bremen (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Hertha Berliner SC vs. Hamburger SV (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs. VfB Stuttgart (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
FC Schalke 04 vs. 1. FC Köln (Sunday, 9:30 AM ET)
Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs. FC Augsburg (Sunday, 11:30 AM ET)
UEFA Champions League Opponent
Inter Zaprešić vs. Dinamo Zagreb (Saturday, 1:00 PM ET)
PAOK vs. Olympiacos (Saturday, 1:30 PM ET)
Arsenal vs. Manchester United (Sunday, 11:00 AM ET)
|FC Schalke 04||5||1||1||10||5||+5||16|
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||4||0||3||7||8||-1||12|
|Hertha Berliner SC||3||2||2||8||8||0||11|
|1. FC Köln||3||2||2||10||12||-2||11|
|FC Ingolstadt 04||3||2||2||4||6||-2||11|
|SV Darmstadt 98||2||4||1||8||9||-1||10|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||3||0||4||9||9||0||9|
|SV Werder Bremen||2||1||4||7||12||-5||7|
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||1||2||4||8||12||-4||5|