Borussia Dortmund must beat Bayern Munich in ‘der Klassiker’

Erling Haaland could be the difference as Bundesliga title race hots up
Erling Haaland will be the main threat for Borussia Dortmund when they take on Bayern Munich. Martin Meissner/Pool via Getty ImagesErling Haaland will be the main threat for Borussia Dortmund when they take on Bayern Munich. Martin Meissner/Pool via Getty Images
Erling Haaland will be the main threat for Borussia Dortmund when they take on Bayern Munich. Martin Meissner/Pool via Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund must beat Bayern Munich this evening if any of the chasing pack are to have a realistic chance of stopping the seven-times defending champions from claiming yet another Bundesliga title.

“This game will be decisive. If we lose, it’s more or less over,” Dortmund defender Raphael Guerreiro admitted after his side’s 2-0 victory at Wolfsburg on Saturday. “At the same time, if we win, we can still dream of the title.”

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Dortmund are four points behind Bayern with seven games of the season remaining – if the fixtures can be played, of course. The league was suspended for two months due to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic and only allowed to resume on 16 May under strict hygiene conditions.

If it needs to be called off again, final league places will likely be determined on current position – as it was in Scotland – though the league’s measures against the virus appear to be working for now.

No supporters are allowed to attend any games for the rest of the season, ensuring tonight’s fixture – known in Germany as “der Klassiker” – in Dortmund’s 80,000-capacity Westfalenstadion will be the quietest ever clash between the Bundesliga rivals.

But Dortmund proved they can cope without the support of their “Yellow Wall” of almost 25,000 standing fans in the stadium’s south terrace when they defeated Schalke 4-0 in the Ruhr derby on the league’s restart.

“It’s certainly different emotionally without spectators,” Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said. “It comes down to the values that we brought to the field in the last two games. The team was right on point.”

Both Bayern and Dortmund have been in record-breaking form with nine wins from ten games since the season’s halfway stage. Bayern’s only slip was a 0-0 draw with Leipzig on 9 February, while Dortmund dropped three points in an unlucky 4-3 defeat in Leverkusen the day before.

“We’re marching, Dortmund are marching, so we can look forward to Tuesday,” Bayern’s Thomas Muller said after scoring one and setting up another in his side’s 5-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

The 30-year-old Muller is arguably in the form of his life, reinvigorated with seven goals and 13 assists since Hansi Flick took over as coach from Niko Kovac in November.

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With Bayern’s record 80 goals in 27 games and Dortmund’s 74, neither side have scored so many at this stage of the league before. Bayern went on to score 101 in 1972.

Bayern’s current team, who have looked imperious under Flick, could well eclipse that mark, while Dortmund’s attack has been reinvigorated by the arrival of Erling Haaland, pictured. The 19-year-old Norwegian has ten goals in ten Bundesliga appearances since his winter transfer from Salzburg.

“Haaland can be another
[Robert] Lewandowski,” the former Dortmund and Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld told Kicker magazine, referring to Bayern’s Polish star who has scored 12 goals in his last six games against Dortmund. Lewandowski has 16 goals altogether against his former club.

Dortmund lost 4-0 in Munich in the sides’ previous meeting in November, but Lucien Favre’s team have been reinforced in the meantime by the arrival of Haaland and Emre Can. “We’re better,” the Dortmund coach said.

“We’re playing with another system that’s better for our squad. And we signed two players in winter and have a whole other presence.”

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