There’s little doubt as to the main attraction in the German Bundesliga this weekend as league football swings back into action. Germany’s top two teams and last season’s Champions League finalists go head-to-head in a match that will play a big role in the title race. After 12 matches Bayern Munich lie four points above Borussia Dortmund and if they could claim the three points here then they will be confident that their seven point lead over their rivals will be the springboard to keep themselves clear for the rest of the season.
There is big history between these two rivals but the clash has hit new heights over the past three years as Dortmund claimed back-to-back league titles and wrapped up a domestic double by trouncing Bayern in the DFB Cup – only for the men from Munich to deliver the perfect come back last season by winning the treble.
Dortmund are hurting at the moment, but they are quite simply the only side in the country that could possibly trip up the Bavarian champions on their road to domination. They have lost their last two matches at the hands of Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League and Wolfsburg in their last league match but their form prior to those losses was excellent, especially in the Bundesliga.
The season could hardly have started better for BVB as they handily beat Bayern 4-2 in the Super Cup and began the season with five consecutive wins in the Bundesliga. But their recent slump requires them to win this weekend to stay on Bayern’s tale and also win next Tuesday when they host Napoli to stay in the Champions League. Their league record now reads won nine from 12, drew one and lost just twice. They have been excellent at home winning all six matches, scoring 21 goals and conceding just four.
Despite being forced to sell Mario Gotze to Bayern, the Champions League and Bundesliga runners-up had success in the summer transfer window as they retained wantaway striker Robert Lewandowski, replaced Goetze with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and added depth in the form of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sokratis Papastathopoulos. Marco Reus has been Dortmund’s best performer this season, netting nine league goals and creating more for the league’s top scorer Robert Lewandowski who has nine. With a natural born goalscorer like Lewandowski to supply, having a player like Reus in your team can make the all-important difference between winning and losing.
With an impressive record of 10 wins, two draws and no defeats so far in the Bundesliga, and a 100 percent win record in the Champions League, which includes an amazing 3-1 win against Manchester City in the Champions League, searching for a Bayern fan who isn’t happy with Pep Guardiola at the helm in Munich would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
It’s remarkable how quickly the team seems to have adapted to Pep. Sure, this isn’t tiki-taka football – there are still huge elements of the old Bayern on display – but it’s clear that keeping possession and more frequent passing of the ball has become the norm at Bayern. Goals from Jerome Boateng, Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller helped the Bavarians to a 3-0 win against Augsburg in their last league match, thus extending their unbeaten streak in the league to 37 games, breaking a 30-year-old record in the process. Pep is blessed with one of the most star-studded sides in the history of world football.
Franck Ribery, Mario Mandzukic and Arjen Robben have been brilliant in attack so far. Despite Guardiola’s famous favouritism of the false number nine ahead of a recognised striker, Croatian centre-forward Mandzukic has been on top form netting eight league goals of which most have been crucial. Dortmund will have to defend well on either wing as Ribery and Robben have continued their flying form this season.
Both league matches were drawn 1-1 last season and it’s difficult to see these teams drawing again. Dortmund have been superb at home but Bayern are unbeaten away this season. After losing to Arsenal at home, Bayern will be confident of trouncing their opponents here. Back Bayern for the away win.