This weekend’s installment of Der Klassiker has all the hallmarks of what should promise to be a thoroughly entertaining clash of titans. Bayern Munich is just one point ahead of Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga table after 13 match weeks, so a win for either side could see them either stay, or jump into the top spot.
Dortmund has just welcomed back Erling Haaland last weekend while Bayern still have several key players out due to coronavirus quarantines, but that won’t prevent them from coming out all guns blazing at the Westfalenstadion.
Both sides are coming off of important winds last weekend, but Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke recently said that he feels Dortmund is full of confidence at the moment, and well poised to get a result against the reigning Bundesliga champions. Dortmund hasn’t fared too well in the Champions League, but they’ll certainly be buoyed by four wins from their last five in the Bundesliga along with the recent returns of Haaland, Mahmoud Dahoud, and Marius Wolf. Raphael Guerreiro is also expected to return to Marco Rose’s starting lineup for Bayern’s visit to North-Rhine Westphalia.
“I expect that we will act courageously, that we will act self-confidently. We are ready, we have a lot of confidence. They should come. Everything else is not broad, but arrogant,” Watzke recently said speaking to Sky (Tz). “If you win 17 of the last 20 Bundesliga games, you should have enough confidence. We showed in Wolfsburg what we’re capable of when we’re reasonably complete. That will continue,” he continued. In Wolfsburg, Dortmund went 1-0 down within the first five minutes, but clawed their way back to come away with the 3-1 win at the Volkswagen Arena.
Bayern has won the last eight Bundesliga Der Klassiker’s, but Haaland is no stranger to scoring against his bitter rivals, so Julian Nagelsmann will have drilled his midfield and defense on the dangers he poses. He’s slated to start and play for roughly 60 minutes on Saturday. From those last eight Bundesliga encounters, Haaland has scored four times against Bayern, so Watzke knows how much Dortmund will be bolstered by his return. “Of course, it’s also clear that having Erling in the squad triggers something. With his positive charisma and his positive craziness, it triggers something in the opponent and triggers something in our own team,” he said.
Watzke also said it works in Dortmund’s favor psychologically that Haaland’s return was leaked to the press prior to their match against VfL Wolfsburg, and Bayern still might’ve been under the impression he wouldn’t be ready in time for Saturday’s match. He feels such news has a much higher susceptibility to be leaked at Bayern. “That’s also Borussia Dortmund’s strength, when something is hinted at, you don’t hear it immediately from them or read about it elsewhere, but we already had the feeling a week beforehand that this could definitely be an option, for a while. And then no one expected it, that’s clear, because with us just the store is closed,” he explained.