Posted on December 17, 2013
Bayern Munich travels to face bitter rivals Borussia Dortmund on Saturday in a contest that pits Germany’s two giants against each other in an eagerly anticipated rematch of last year’s UEFA Champions League Final.
Dortmund comes into the week 13 match, now known as the “German Clasico,: in second place in the German Bundesliga table with 28 points, four behind reigning treble champions Bayern at the summit. They have split the last four Germany Bundesliga titles, with Bayern earning a sandwich of trophies before and after Dortmund’s 2010-11 and 2011-12 glory.
Now under first-year manager Pep Guardiola, the men from Munich are in sterling form with four wins on the trot. They’ve won 26 of their last 29 league matches dating back to last season, and last time out they set a record by extending their unbeaten streak to 37 games. The Bavarian’s last loss? An April 2012 trip to Dortmund in which Dortmund’s deadly striker Robert Lewandowski bagged the only goal of the match? In fact, Jurgen Klopp’s side has four wins and two draws from their last six league matches with Bayern.
Here are three big storylines to watch as you prepare for Germany’s grandest game:
The Bavarians will be without UEFA Best Player in Europe award winner Franck Ribery, who cracked a rib while helping France qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil on a tense Tuesday night. Midfield engine Bastian Schweinsteiger is still out as he recovers from ankle surgery.
Der BVB also is fighting an injury crisis and will be without their entire preferred regular back four. The squad is so short that Klopp signed 34-year-old free agent Manuel Friedrich, who previously played for him at Mainz, as cover.
Defenders Mats Hummels and Marcel Schmelzer picked up ligament damage and a calf muscle tear, respectively, while representing Germany in their 1-0 win against England in Wembley Stadium on Tuesday. Neven Subotic, Hummels’ trusted partner in the center of defense, tore a knee ligament two weeks ago in a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Wolfsburg and has been ruled out for six months.
Polish international right back Lukasz Piszczek is yet to feature in a match this year after suffering hip and groin injuries in the UCL final in May, though he did make an appearance in a Tuesday friendly for Borussia and could be back in league action next week.
Though they have conceded just 11 goals in the season’s opening 12 games, Borussia is looking vulnerable as ever in front of goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller. Luckily they also have the best offensive record in the league with 32 goals, including a Bundesliga best nine from potent Polish striker Robert Lewandowski.
German midfield maestro Mario Goetze is set to return to his boyhood club—he was part of the youth system at nine years old—wearing the shirt of their title rivals on Saturday after competing a $50 million transfer move to Bayern Munich last summer. Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil is the only Germany player to fetch a higher fee.
The 21-year-old is one of the brightest creative attacking minds in the game and helped guide Borussia Dortmund to a league and domestic cup double in 2011-12. His transfer, announced in the build-up to Borussia Dortmund’s UCL semifinal against Real Madrid, drew the ire of the Yellow Wall, and his return won’t be as warm as he probably deserves.
That’s our diplomatic way of saying; expect a bitter affair on Saturday. Not only did Gotze’s move cause rancor in the ranks, but Lewandowski is widely reported to have agreed to a pre-contract with Bayern Munich and is expected to join the club next summer.
Other than for trophies and players, the competition between these teams extends off the field, onto the world of social media.
Unwilling to let Borussia Dortmund dominate the viral video world, Bayern Munich replicated a 2011 video this week in an “anything you can pretend you are doing, we can mock” statement. Check out the full story from the Daily Mail:
Pens move in circles when the schedule is released. From Marco Reus to Sven Bender to Arjen Robben and Manuel Neuer, this contest features a who’s who’s of worldwide stars.
It’s as highly anticipated of a match as there is in Germany. Don’t miss it, and be sure to have your replica and lifestyle gear at hand or on when the two sides take the field this weekend.