Bayern Munich had a furious start to the new Bundesliga season — and then one heck of a rough patch. The pressure was on! Then in a typical Bayern Munich fashion, our boys bagged a statement victory against Bayer Leverkusen — though, to be fair, Leverkusen are languishing at the bottom of the Bundesliga table and afterwards appointed former Bayern Munich alumn Xabi Alonso as head coach to turn things around.
Another Munich alum, Thomas Helmer, has played for both the German Rekordmeister and their upcoming opponents this week, Borussia Dortmund. For Helmer, it's this Der Klassiker that will be the real test for Bayern after their mini-crisis — thumpings against Bundesliga and Champions League minnows aside.
“Leverkusen and Pilsen were gratifying build-up teams,” penned Helmer in an op-ed column for Kicker. “This comparison with BVB is the benchmark. However, the reactivated efficiency and the two clean sheets will strengthen Munich’s self-confidence”.
Dortmund are a team that has had to deal with a mini-crisis of their own — responding to a crushing Bundesliga defeat to 1. FC Köln by smashing La Liga side Sevilla in the Champions League in the midweek. It's a mirror redemption to that seen in Bavaria, just as the two sides head into their famous fixture.
“BVB can now start the game against Munich with improved self-confidence,” Helmer added — though he believes that the favorite to win is still Bayern Munich. “The loss of Erling Haaland hurts BVB more than the farewell of Robert Lewandowski for Bayern.”
While both strikers are showing the world why they're elite in their new digs — Manchester City and FC Barcelona respectively — their old clubs are still sorting out the answers to the questions posed by their departures. Arguably, the Bavarians have come closer to demonstrating an answer — but Saturday will be proving grounds for the claim.
Bayern are assuredly excited for the matchup. These are favored fixtures in Bavaria, according to Helmer — opportunities to “demonstrate their strength.” Will Dortmund show fear, or will we see a black-and-yellow bee sting the Rekordmeisters and send them tumbling down the table again?
Tune in to our live blog on Saturday to find out!