It's Borussia Dortmund against FC Bayern Munich, also known as Der Klassiker, a duel between the top two teams in Germany over the last couple of decades. Contrary to last year, when Dortmund struggled most of the season, and was even in the relegation zone for large chunks of time, this is the real showdown again, between the only two unbeaten teams remaining in the Bundesliga, first against second.
Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, October 2nd, 2015
According to the media director, this game will be broadcast live in 207 countries, a record for the Bundesliga.
Here are the highlights of today's questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On being fit and ready for the big game on Sunday - Everyone is ready, but so is Dortmund.
On whether the excitement and anticipation is similar to what was felt before Barcelona and Real Madrid matches - Yes. Lots of people want to see and analyze this game. Every country has their special games, and Bayern - Dortmund is always special.
On what Pep saw in the Thursday Europa League game between Dortmund and Saloniki - Watched the EL game, and also another one. Dortmund have always been very good at counter attacks, but now they also play a positional and possession game. They play very wide, with Matthias Ginter and Marcel Schmelzer at full back. The difference is that they have five incredibly technical players in the midfield, with Julian Weigl, Ilkay Gundogan, Shinji Kagawa, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marco Reus, Jonas Hoffmann, Adnun Januzaj (I'm no math major, but that sounds like a lot more than five). With those players, you know how well they can play, they're a top team. But, this isn't a final, it's three points, because there's still a long way to go to determine who wins the Bundesliga.
On the injury situation, specifically Juan Bernat - Everyone is ok. Bernat has had some issues with his adductors the last week or two. It's minor, and he'll probably be available next week.
On Arjen Robben's situation - We are still only 15 players. Arjen has not practiced with the team yet. I still have to see him, but he is in the last phase of his rehab. I don't know if he will be able to play on Sunday (appears doubtful, considering that he hasn't practiced yet, and already declined to play in Holland's crucial European Championship qualifiers next week).
On Arturo Vidal's injury status - He practiced today (and appears to be available for the game, even though he was sporting a wrapped knee at practice).
On how to neutralize Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, who has scored in every game so far - Last season he played forward, but on the outside, this season he plays in the middle, and he is very dangerous. He is very fast, which means our four-man defense needs to pay attention (is he giving away defensive tactics, or is he rope-a-doping Tuchel?) He creates a lot of room for his teammates, but we will try to control him.
On whether a win on Sunday will be a preliminary decision in the Bundesliga - No, it's three points, and it's only October.
On Schalke's strong start - (Schalke are only one point behind Dortmund, and could leapfrog BVB on Sunday by winning against Cologne if Bayern win). We need a strong Bundesliga, we need strong competition for Bayern. Schalke, Wolfsburg, Leverkusen and BVB will challenge, and that's what we wanted (it sure doesn't seem like Wolfsburg is part of that pack, who lost on Saturday to a resurgent Gladbach).
On the disadvantage of Dortmund having to play on Thursday, and having to travel to and from Greece - I don't know. Normally, when you have a big rivalry, and when you play Bayern, you are always fit and focused. I expect a strong Dortmund, who had five key players stay home (Mats Hummels, Gundogan, Aubameyang, Kagawa, Sokratis).
On whether anyone can stop Robert Lewandowski - When he is on a roll, it depends on the rest of the team playing well, supplying him with service. He has a lot of confidence right now, and I am happy for him. But he can't do it on his own, everyone playing for each other, that's the important thing.
On whether Dortmund is playing more of a Pep-type football - They're playing with more control, and part of that is Julian Weigl. I am surprised by him, such a young player playing so well. I have seen what Thomas Tuchel wants from his team. They play Gegenpressing, they have lots of possession (we'll see what their possession numbers look like on Sunday), play with lots of control, and counterattacks. They've combined Jurgen Klopp's system with Tuchel's, and now can play both systems, which makes them dangerous.
On Pep's opinion of Thomas Tuchel, after meeting with him last yeat - (There were reports that Guardiola met with Tuchel for dinner while the soon-to-be Dortmund coach was on sabbatical, and that they had an extended and animated discussion which included a lot of tactical demonstrations with salt and pepper shakers on the table) I met him once for dinner for two or three hours, and you can't get to know each other that well in that time. I met many coaches when I was younger, but, in the end, I did it my way, and Thomas Tuchel will do it his way.
On whether Lewandowski and Mario Gotze can give 100% against their former club - Maybe it made a difference the first time they played against Dortmund, but, since then, they are Bayern players, and they give their all for the club and for themselves. Every player on the team gives a 100%.
On his admiration of Julian Weigl - I didn't know him before, but he has all the tools he needs to play in the middle. We found Joshua Kimmich as the next German national team player, and Julian will also play there. Weigl is a very important player for their club, they can't play as quickly without him.
On why he didn't get Weigl instead - (Julian Weigl played across town for 1860 Munich before switching to Dortmund this summer) I'm the coach of Bayern Munich, I don't have time to check out other teams. The club told me about Kimmich. Bayern can't just buy every player.
On playing big games like against Dortmund causing worries - No, I sleep better before games like this. Games against teams like Dinamo Zagreb worry me, because everybody is saying it's an easy game. I don't think about the last game (lost the DFB Pokal semifinal), I'm always thinking about the next game.
On Michael Zorc's claim that Bayern get more calls than other clubs - I don't believe that, and I'm not worried about the referees being influenced. I have never in my career talked about the referees.
On how satisfied Pep is with his team's play - I'm always happy when the team plays well. Against Mainz was so-so, against Zagreb was good. That was the first time in two years that we played well against ten men defending in the box. Right now, we have 15 players, but, hopefully, after the national team break, we will get Holger Badstuber back, and Arjen Robben, and Jan Kirchhoff. And maybe Franck Ribery can get back into practice.
On Sebastian Rode being on the game sheet - No, he isn't available yet. He hasn't practiced the last four or five days.
On how the Oktoberfest was - (The official team trip to the Oktoberfest happened on Wednesday, instead of the traditional last Sunday of the festival, due to the scheduling of the Dortmund game) It was good. It was a good atmosphere, the kids were in school, it was good.
On Kingsley Coman's performances so far - We can't forget that he's 19 years old. He's a wing that can go one-on-one. With players like him, we can play wide, and that creates space. Michael Reschke (Bayern's technical director) informed me about all the new players, we discussed it, and the club decided to get them, and I am very happy with them so far.
Disclaimer - Due to the nature of having a coach whose native language is not German, the translation of the quotes is not exactly word for word, but includes some interpretation on the part of the author of this article, in order to more accurately portray what the coach is intending to say. There is some necessary guesswork involved.