On most days over the last couple of seasons, the Bundesliga clash between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich is the best club football match available anywhere in the world. However, with so many injuries to the home side on defense while the German and European champions are missing their best player (Franck Ribery), even the return of Mario Gotze to the team he grew up in won’t make this the match it could have been.
The names Klopp is missing? Neven Subotic, Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek. His entire starting defensive four. Who comes in instead? Sokratis, a good defender, but mostly known for his heading ability, and not his coverage skills. Sven Bender will start in the back four, out of position. Kevin Grosskreutz continues to play as a right back, while Marian Sarr might fill in on the left side.
These problems mean that it’ll be Jakub Blaszczykowski to start on the right side and not Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his lightning pace, which was saved till later in the match when Dortmund beat Bayern 4-2 in the German Super Cup earlier this season. However, the team they met in August is very different from the undefeated league leaders they face now, feeling a lot more comfortable with their new manager and his system.
Philipp Lahm is playing in defense again, while Javi Martinez has taken control of the defensive midfield again. Mario Mandzukic is scoring almost at will (8 goals this season), countering whatever advantage Dortmund usually have with Robert Lewandowski. Toni Kroos, David Alaba and Bastian Schweinsteiger are playing the best football they’ve ever have, while Mario Gotze has been fantastic whenever Guardiola has used him.
Too much for Dortmund? After two consecutive losses (to Wolfsburg and Arsenal), there’s plenty of pressure on Lewandowski, Reus and Mkhitaryan to deliver. The Armenian star didn’t play against Bayern three months ago as well, and there’s no doubt he’ll be keeping Martinez quite busy. However, their lack of support from behind might mean will see a less adventurous side, even during their famous and lethal counter attacks.
Prediction – Bayern Munich aren’t going to lose this one, but there is a question of whether or not they don’t go all-out and settle for a draw, which is just as good for them. On the other side of that, beating Dortmund in the league hasn’t been something they’ve succeeded in doing for three years, and this seems to be the best opportunity they’ve had in quite some time.