It’s finally here, that one game that could make or break the title race. Bayern Munich travel to a tragically empty Signal Iduna Park to face Borussia Dortmund, who have been in good form as of late.
Despite being oft criticized for a conservative approach, BVB coach Lucien Favre has managed to get the bees level on points with Bayern after 6 games. This is mainly thanks to a sturdy defense, led by none other than Mats Hummels. There’s also the freakishly gifted Erling Haaland, whose partnership with Jadon Sancho enters its second year, and the talented young Giovanni Reyna who many see as the replacement to Christian Pulisic. Needless to say, even without the Yellow Wall, Dortmund have all the tools to take Bayern down. Can they pull it off?
While Mats Hummels confirmed that he would be fit for the Klassiker, Bayern will be without defensive stalwart Niklas Sule. Sule tested positive for covid-19 a few days ago, and is still in quarantine despite recent tests coming back negative. He joins Joshua Zirkzee on the covid-XI, as with the young Dutchman also having tested negative but not yet deemed ready to play. The biggest miss of all will be Alphonso Davies, who is out until January due to an ankle injury. The Canadian’s pace has always been critical to containing Dortmund’s pacey forwards — without him, who knows what will happen.
Still, Hansi Flick has few tricks in his toolbox. First of all his Robert Lewandowski, who is none other than the best striker in the world. Second is Thomas Muller, the coveted Raumdeuter, the coach’s right-hand man, and Lewy’s precious partner in crime. This incredible duo will likely be supported by the proven winger pairing of Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman.
Leroy Sane, despite his heroic showing against RB Salzburg in midweek, is likely to be relegated to the bench. At the moment, the former Manchester City star is far more valuable as an impact sub in the 70th minute, alongside Douglas Costa. That injection of pace was what Bayern needed to break down a sturdy Salzburg side, and it could prove to be BVB’s undoing — provided the game hangs in the balance until then.
As for the midfield ... well, with Leon Goretzka fit and ready to play, there’s no debate to be had. The Hulk lines up with Joshua Kimmich in Hansi Flick’s go-to dual pivot, and they will be crucial to unlocking Dortmund from the middle. Let’s hope these two put on a good show — Goretzka is only just returning from injury, while Kimmich has been playing without rest for weeks non-stop.
Despite a shaky game against Salzburg, Hansi Flick is expected to stick with his usual players at the back. Lucas Hernandez takes the left-back spot in Phonzie’s absence, and he has proven himself more than capable in the role. Erling Haaland will meanwhile be marked by David Alaba and Jerome Boateng, who will need to be at the top of their game to keep pace with the mercurial forward. Benjamin Pavard is the real worry — the Frenchman has been far from his usual solid self this season, and Favre might choose to target his side with Jadon Sancho. Let’s hope Flick has had a word with Pavard about his defending — we want our rock back.
- Corentin Tolisso in for Serge Gnabry, Muller on the wing. It makes a 4-3-3, similar to the one that beat Atletico Madrid.
- Bouna Sarr for Benjamin Pavard, in lieu of his recent weak performances.
- Douglas Costa in for either Serge Gnabry or Kingsley Coman, if either of them need a rest.
Looks like Benji is injured. Let's hope it's nothing serious.
Benjamin Pavard missed yesterday's and today's training and will be replaced by Bouna Sarr against Dortmund tomorrow [Bild] https://t.co/2NCU3Slwuw— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) November 6, 2020
It's great that we bought Sarr right before the deadline, because he's getting a lot of minutes.