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Preview: Bayern Munich hosts battered Dortmund

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Der Klassiker has lost some of its luster as Bayern and Dortmund follow different trajectories.

Atalanta v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Europa League
For now he belongs to Dortmund: Michy Batshuayi.
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Bayern Munich will host their chief rival Borussia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena on Saturday with a comfortable 18 point lead in the Bundesliga table. Bayern’s domestic dominance and Dortmund’s various woes—from injuries to poor performances and poor coaching—have dampened some of the enthusiasm that formerly surrounded the match, especially as Bayern look ahead to their Champions League clash with Sevilla on Tuesday.

Vidal and Bernat out

The international break was relatively kind to Bayern Munich: the only casualties from this latest round of FIFA friendlies are minor: Jerome Boateng suffered a bruise in Germany’s match against Brazil, and Arturo Vidal suffered a thigh contusion with heavy bruising. Heynckes confirmed that Vidal will not play (Abendzeitung).

Backup left-back Juan Bernat also will not be available. The Spaniard is struggling with capsule irritation in his ankle.

The thrill might be gone, but Bayern-Dortmund remains a prestige match. Jupp Heynckes will field a strong lineup to prevent the Yellow-and-Black from taking points back home to Dortmund.

On the back line, Niklas Süle is likely to replace Jerome Boateng. In midfield, with Arturo Vidal sidelined, Heynckes may turn to Corentin Tolisso to play his box-to-box role, while Javi Martinez stays back in the defensive midfield.

Up front, it may be the last time that we see Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben play against Dortmund. Robbery will be supported by a roaming Thomas Müller, starting on the 10 spot, but hardly staying there. Although some have argued that Sandro Wagner should start, in light of Bayern's upcoming clash with Sevilla, the match against Dortmund seems too important not to play the Bundesliga's premier striker, Robert Lewandowski.

Dortmund: Yellow and black and blue

The news has not been good for Dortmund: shortly after at last returning to the lineup and kindling some glimmers of hope that he could make Germany's World Cup squad, Marco Reus has succumbed to an adductor problem and is certain to miss the match. Defender Ömer Toprak will also likely miss the match (muscular problems), while Shinji Kagawa is still nursing an ankle injury.

New acquisition Manuel Akanji and veteran Sokratis are the only two central defenders that coach Peter Stöger has available. Lukas Piszczek thus may move back alongside them. In the midfield, with Marcel Schmelzer and Gonzalo Castro on the wings, Julian Weigl and Mo Dahoud will probably make up Dortmund's central midfield. Weigl will probably be the deeper-lying one of the two—although his form this season has left much to be desired.

Mario Götze will support the two likely attackers: André Schürrle and of course the delightful Michy Batshuayi. Christian Pulisic may make an appearance, but the American's form has suffered in recent months.

A word about the 'Batsman'

Even if he is wearing yellow, not red, Bayern fans should enjoy an appearance by arguably the most dynamic personality to join the Bundesliga this season: Michy Batshuayi, Dortmund's concession prize from Chelsea in the three-way-deal that sent Aubameyang to Arsenal and Olivier Giroud to Chelsea.

Michy has made Aubameyang seem like a distant memory. In a word, he has simply been incredible, and that's true even discounting the six goals in seven games he has scored since joining the team. Batshuayi is a real character and well worth a follow on Twitter.

Batshuayi was at the center of a recent controversy in the Europa League, after fans of the Italian club Atalanta Bergamo taunted him with racist monkey cries when Dortmund played there. It looked like an open-and-shut case, but UEFA stunningly decided to close the investigation earlier this week and let Atalanta off scot-free. The Batsman called UEFA out:

Give the man a nod he comes to Munich. Michy is one of the good guys.