Saturday brings the biggest game in the Bundesliga to date and perhaps the biggest game in all of football, as Borussia Dortmund is host to Bayern Munich. (Stream it LIVE in the US on ESPN + Saturday at 12pm. ET.)
It’s second in the league to serve as first host, and it’s going to be a true Goliath versus Goliath: Dortmund’s youth-driven movement, led by Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho and Giovanni Reyna, versus the seasoned, trophy-winning Bayern Ich team can count on Robert Lewandowski, Joshua Kimmich and Manuel Neuer to guide them through virtually any challenge.
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“The classic”, as their rivalry is called, continues to provide drama and topics of conversation, although Bayern have won the Bundesliga eight times in a row and a record 30 times. Dortmund have only won two of the last 10 league games against their Bavarian opponents, most recently in 2018, but anything is possible this weekend.
To prepare you for the big game, ESPN’s Derek Rae, Tom Hamilton and Stephan Uersfeld discuss the nature of the rivalry, form guide and keys for both teams to win (or lose) at Signal Iduna Park on Saturday.
Jump to: Rae on the growth of rivalry | Notorious Moments | Form guide | Main actors | How the game is won / lost | Statistics, trends | Predictions
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Derek Rae: “The Classic” has grown over time
At these unusual times, I don’t mind admitting that I long to get behind the ESPN + microphone again this weekend and broadcast the game that most casual watchers assume is the biggest club game in Germany Soccer is.
“The classic” is the catchy nickname given to the rivalry between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich in recent years. Understandably, newer Bundesliga viewers probably see it as the ultimate showcase game, given that the coveted ones over the past decade Championship trophy because the league champion was reserved for these two colossal clubs. Nobody else looked inside.
The truth is, when I first traveled to Germany to play Bundesliga games in the 1980s, it didn’t have the resonance of other more established head-to-head confrontations. The attraction of the often heated Hamburg-Bavaria summit meeting between north and south was certainly missing or, of course, the gloomy “Revierderby“between the Westphalian opponents Dortmund and Schalke. Instead, Bayern against Dortmund was just another game – albeit top-class – between two of the best supported teams in the country.
Things started to change in the 1990s Black and yellow challenged the Bavarian heavyweights, took the title in 1995 and 1996 and won the Champions League the following year. It was noticeable that an ongoing soap opera quality emerged, with individual incidents suddenly increasing on a large scale.
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Dortmund’s descent into serious financial trouble in the 2000s did not mean that connection should be broken. Indeed, Bayern saw the bigger picture and contributed to saving their new, fierce rivals from the by providing an interest-free loan of EUR 2 million at a time when BVB could not afford to pay their players’ salaries financial oblivion. And in a strange way, with financial oblivion, the brush helped Dortmund organically retool itself and brought magic to the club with Jürgen Klopp.
The “Kloppo” years will be hard to beat as a style of fast-paced, wild football prevailed in front of an audience that really enjoyed it. Dortmund thus secured a double between the Bundesliga and the DFB Cup in 2011 at Bayern’s expense, followed by another championship next year.
At that time, the Bayern-Dortmund show had moved onto the biggest stage when the two German giants met in the 2013 Champions League final in Wembley. I am fortunate to be there that evening and vividly remember the feeling of excitement. I’m usually not a fan of European finals with clubs from the same country, but I was happy to make an exception for this one. The game was a thriller staged by Arjen Robben’s winner in the 89th minute. This was the second step for Bayern on the way to a first treble under Jupp Heynckes.
Since then, players have switched from one side to the other and sometimes – as in the case of Mats Hummels – back again! Both sides have media teams who follow every move in a way that other German clubs simply don’t.
In recent years there have also been some beatings, mostly handed out by Bayern in their own Allianz arena, some DFB-Pokal nailbiter and even high quality games without a single goal. One of my favorites was the 0-0 win in March 2016, when Bayern Dortmund successfully kept Dortmund at bay when Thomas Tuchel’s philosophy was trending in Signal Iduna Park. Technically and tactically, it was a wonderful advertisement for the German game and it apparently ended with a hyperactive Pep Guardiola showered his award-winning student Kimmich with praise in the form of a boisterous!
If Dortmund and Bavaria shut their horns, you know that you are watching history, something defining and if not decisive, then at least pointing the way. It may be a late-arriving rivalry, but every argument between Dortmund and Bayern now has a story. Saturday won’t be any different. – Derek Rae
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The classic notorious moments
The modern rivalry has been shaped by one player more than any other: seals. On April 11, 2012, the winger took over to score a Bayern penalty in the Westfalenstadion. The clock ran down, there were four minutes left and the result was 1-0. Robben’s equalization would have swung the momentum in the title race. The stadium was as loud as possible.
Dortmund fans whistled, booed and seriously managed to keep the Dutchman from his step. After a roar in the Westfalenstadion, Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller saved the penalty and the pent-up tension of defender Neven Subotic broke out in Robben’s face.
A year later Robben picked up a long pass from Jerome Boateng at Wembley. The clock was running again and the teams were preparing for the extension. But Robben had other plans. He met and then marched up the stairs to claim the Champions League trophy. Within a year, Robben had turned his and Bayern’s around and reclaimed the story for the Bavarian giants.
The duels between the two sides in the 1990s and early 2000s were also unrivaled. Bayern goalkeeper Oliver Kahn was in the spotlight. He set a good example and went the extra mile when he started a flying kick against Dortmund striker Stephane Chapuisat, tested the ear of midfielder Andreas Möller and threatened to bite Heiko Herrlich. Years later, he struck Dortmund’s air when a free kick from Tomas Rosicky hit the post and rolled all the way down the goal line into his waiting arms. Bayern won the title in 2000-01 and thus ended BVB’s hopes of lifting the title Championship trophy exactly there.
In recent years Bayern have had too much control over Dortmund in most games to produce special moments, but anything can happen in 2020. – Stephan Uersfeld
The Bundesliga in 2020 looks familiar. Bayern Munich sits at the usual top at the top of the table and Borussia Dortmund is only divided by the goal difference. Bayern’s only defeat this season took place on the second match day in Hoffenheim, where they were deposed 4-1 by Sebastian Hoeneß, who ruthlessly exposed their defensive weaknesses. But since then they have done everything in both the Bundesliga and the Champions League.
This was followed by victories against Hertha Berlin, Arminia Bielefeld, Eintracht Frankfurt and Cologne, followed by victories against Atletico Madrid (4: 0) and Lokomotiv Moscow (2: 1) in the Champions League. And on Tuesday against FC Salzburg they won 6-2 in Austria, although they were suspended 2-2 11 minutes before the end.
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Her summer transfer business varied between well-planned and fast, but Leroy Sane has adapted well to life at Bayern following his move from Man City, while her other signings – Bouna Sarr, Marc Roca, Douglas Costa and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – have settled in well and offer Hansi Flick competent options in terms of rest, rotation and load management. There’s good news on other signings as well: Having missed much of last season due to injury, Lucas Hernandez is also adapting well to life in Germany, taking on the left-back slot while Alphonso Davies was injured .
Borussia Dortmund’s shape flies a little under the radar in comparison, but you can feel that they haven’t given full throttle yet. Like Bayern, they have five out of six wins in the Bundesliga, the defeat on matchday two in Augsburg. Although their defense was excellent – they only conceded twice in the league this year – they are a little less reliable in the front 11 goals less than Bayern.
Their form was mixed in the Champions League. A loss to Lazio in the opening round was underpinned by a 2-0 win over Zenit and a 3-0 win over Club Brugge on Wednesday. Talking about Lucien Favre’s long-term future is unlikely to go away anytime soon, but a win on Saturday will help him silence his critics. – – Tom Hamilton.
This will be an exciting attack match. With Haaland, Sancho and Reyna, Dortmund has one of the best young attacking groups in world football, all of whom bring in goals and assists. This is supported by the championship of Marco Reus and the tenacity of Emre Can and Axel Witsel in midfield.
Watch out that Reyna falls deep and comes into the box late. Sancho and Raphael Guerreiro cut off their wings. Expect Haaland to continue testing Bayern’s offside trap and hanging on the last defender’s shoulder forever to get behind the defense.
Robert Lewandowski still shoots for fun for Bayern and has already scored a remarkable 10 goals in five Bundesliga games. It’s an incredible hit rate but he has high profile lieutenants in Sane, Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry who all knock him off and get in the gates too.
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Thomas Müller is so good that they named a position after him – the “Space Interpreter“(Spaceman) – and he continues to be one of the most noticeable attackers in Europe. But keep an eye on the ubiquitous Kimmich, who scored an absolutely brilliant goal against Lokomotiv Moscow last week. Sometimes it’s like it’s there. ” there are three of him on the pitch considering how much ground he covers but Dortmund will no doubt have a plan to keep him from being too influential in midfield. – Tom Hamilton.
How the game is won (or lost)
Dortmund was the most dangerous this season when it went into attack after winning the ball. A perfect Dortmund goal looks like this: You win the ball halfway, Sancho picks it up, runs off and looks up, with Haaland finding space behind the defenders. Haaland then finishes it.
Bayern’s high line in recent seasons and their loss of concentration fit exactly with Dortmund’s plans. The main concern of Dortmund is the fitness of the defensive player Hummels. After successfully switching to a 4-5-1 formation but lacking depth in the center-back position without Hummels and Emre Can – the latter has yet to return from COVID-19 – they could be forced to return to a 3-. 5-2 formation and be light on the wings. The signing of Thomas Meunier as a right-back in the summer was the weak point in Dortmund this season. His crosses have gone astray far too often, while defense has not worked out for him either. Bayern want to use this space and dominate the midfield with Kimmich and Leon Goretzka.
Bayern also have defensive concerns. Niklas Sule tested positive for COVID-19 At the beginning of the week, Alaba and Jerome Boateng will have Haaland test their endurance and speed. But in attack Bayern will try to overload the flanks and make room in the box.
Müller will disturb himself at his best in the box and try to pull the defenders out of position to give Lewandowski space to fall. Also keep an eye on Hernandez as a left-back: Even without the infinitely talented Davies, he represents a real threat to the right side of the Dortmund defense. Stephan Uersfeld and Tom Hamilton.
Statistics, data and trends
All information is provided by ESPN Stats & Info
— Head to head: Bayern Munich led its all-time series in the Bundesliga with 48 wins against Dortmund’s 25 (29 draws). Dortmund hopes not to lose their first home games against Bayern for the first time since 1969/70.
– Watch out for Lew: Lewandowski (Bayern) played for both sides of “Der Klassiker” and is the best goalscorer of all time with 23 goals. However, in the last two games he could not score a goal. Also this season he is in excellent shape: his 14 goals (all competitions) in 2020-21 will be tied the most by every player in the five best leagues in Europe with Tottenham’s Harry Kane.
– Longevity: Müller (Bayern) is the best player of the rivalry at 35.
– Will the Bavarians go wild? They have scored 24 goals in the Bundesliga this season, twice as many as any other team in the league, except Dortmund, which is in second place with three. Bayern also count: this season they implement 23.5% of their shots. This is the second best rate among the teams from the five best leagues in Europe behind Leicester City in the Premier League (26.2%). Bayern have the fewest minutes per goal in the five best leagues in Europe this season, every 22.5 minutes so far. The highest mark in the last 10 seasons was Real Madrid’s 28.3 minutes per goal in the 2011/12 season.
Bayern Munich played through the summer on the way to the second treble and in recent weeks has shown signs that it can be a bit shaky on and off the pitch. Dortmund has controlled most of the games this season and now has to show mental strength. With Hummels (hopefully) and Haaland on the pitch and Reyna and Sancho as magical moments, this will be Dortmund’s game. – Stephan Uersfeld.
We hope it turns out to be an all-action, full of action. We expect a lot of goals but there will be a 2-2 draw with Haaland and Lewandowski both on the scorers list. – – Tom Hamilton.