Bundesliga title-deciding ‘der Klassiker’ – All you need to know
Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich are arguably the two biggest football clubs in Germany.
For over half a century, the pair have held a fierce rivalry, which has come to be known as the ‘German clasico’ or more commonly ‘der Klassiker’ (English: The classic).
However, this rivalry has been rather one-sided in recent history.
Since 2013, Bayern have won 10 successive Bundesliga titles, with Dortmund runners-up in six of those seasons.
Meanwhile 2013 also saw the teams meet in the final of the UEFA Champions League at Wembley Stadium, where the Bavarian giants came out on top thanks to an Arjen Robben winner.
This year BVB likely didn’t expect to be sitting at the summit of the Bundesliga with nine matches to go.
But Edin Terzic’s side are a point clear of their rivals and are in fantastic form, meaning that ‘der Klassiker’ on Saturday, 1 April at 17:30 (BST) at the Allianz Arena is potentially the most decisive in quite some time.
This weekend’s may be the biggest ‘Klassiker’ in some time but it certainly must deliver to have a chance of being the best.
The bar was set extremely high when the sides met back in October, when the Black and Yellows came from two goals down to snatch a draw at the death, thanks to a 95th minute Anthony Modeste header.
That moment will live long in the memories of the Yellow Wall; as far as ‘der Klassiker’ goals go, that one is hard to top.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the record of recent encounters doesn’t make for pretty viewing for ‘die Schwarzgelbe’.
In fact, that match was the first time in nine meetings that they hadn’t ended up on the losing side.
The side from the Allianz Arena had completed league doubles over BVB in each of the last three campaigns.
In 23 meetings since Jürgen Klopp left Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund have won just four times, contributing to an overall win rate of 26% in 132 games.
At the Westfalenstadion, things have been a lot more even, with ‘die Borussen’ having accumulated 23 home wins, and the side from Munich having won just one more.
But at the Allianz, Bayern have won each of the last seven meetings.
BVB’s last league win there came nine matches ago in 2014, when goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marco Reus (he has 6 at the Allianz) and Jonas Hofmann gave the club a 3-0 win.
Since then, they have only won twice, both coming in the DFB-Pokal, and only one of those coming in regular time (2017 semi-final won by Ousmane Dembele’s second half goal, on the way to a Pokal win under Thomas Tuchel).
The history books certainly don’t favour Borussia Dortmund, both in the title race and in direct meetings with Bayern.
Bayern Munich need no introduction. They are the most successful club in the history of German football, having won 32 league titles.
They have maintained that dominance in the modern era and currently have the rest of the Bundesliga in a chokehold.
The last time Bayern didn’t win the Bundesliga was in 2012, when Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund won a second consecutive title.
Every other side in the league has simply been inferior in that time; they simply can’t compete.
But are things now starting to change?
Niklas Süle made one of the boldest transfers of the summer, swapping Munich for Dortmund on a free transfer, when the Bavarians are usually the ones who sweep up the league’s best talent.
Along with Süle, BVB also recruited some top domestic talent such as Nico Schlotterbeck and Karim Adeyemi, and though it took a while, things have now clicked for Edin Terzic’s side.
Bayern have lost just three times in the Bundesliga this season but have drawn seven times.
The most recent of those losses came just before the international break, where two Exequiel Palacios penalties for Bayer Leverkusen sealed a 2-1 defeat for Julian Nagelsmann’s side, ensuring that Borussia Dortmund remained in first place.
Despite still fighting on all fronts for silverware, with Pokal and Champions League quarter-final matches on the horizon, against Freiburg and Manchester City respectively, Nagelsmann became a victim of the club’s incredible standards.
Though there were tensions off the pitch, the 35-year-old’s departure shook the footballing world.
Former Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel is now in the hot seat at the Allianz; he’ll be looking to deal a major blow to his former employers’ title hopes this weekend.
To do so, he’ll need his top players to perform.
Manuel Neuer and Lucas Hernandez are out for the season, but depth isn’t an issue for the side in red.
Key player Jamal Musiala sustained a muscle injury recently, but he appears to be in contention to feature.
With this being Tuchel’s first game in charge, it will be interesting to see how he implements his own style on the Bayern team.
Regardless, Dayot Upamecano and Matthijs de Ligt are almost guaranteed to start in defence.
Meanwhile Alphonso Davies is likely to be of real use to Tuchel as a left wing-back and potentially Joao Cancelo on the right.
Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka, who scored in the reverse fixture, have been mainstays in midfield.
Though Musiala’s fitness is touch and go, Tuchel certainly isn’t lacking options in the forward areas; Kingsley Coman, Sadio Mané, Leroy Sané and Serge Gnabry and Thomas Müller are all top players.
Finally, Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting has stepped into Robert Lewandowski’s boots up front and scored 17 goals this term.
BVB team news
There have been several injury scares recently for Borussia Dortmund.
Jamie Bynoe-Gittens will miss out due to suspected shoulder surgery, while the fitness statuses of other first team players are unknown.
Gregor Kobel is expected to be back in goal, which will be a massively welcome return for the team.
Nico Schlotterbeck is reportedly also back from injury and ready to likely start alongside Niklas Süle in defence.
Given Raphael Guerreiro’s impressive form in midfield, recent Germany international debutant Marius Wolf and Julian Ryerson are assumed to be the full-back pairing this weekend.
Guerreiro will most likely play with Jude Bellingham in midfield, and either Emre Can or Salih Özcan; the former for his experience or the latter for his physicality.
There has been no official word on the fitness of Julian Brandt and Karim Adeyemi but they are apparently in contention to feature here.
Club captain and legend Marco Reus has four goals and two assists in his last four Bundesliga starts; he should keep his place on the left of the midfield.
If Edin Terzic is apprehensive to risk those who have been recently injured, Donyell Malen will likely start on the other wing; he has also been playing well.
Youssoufa Moukoko is also reportedly ready to return; he netted the equaliser at Signal Iduna Park in October.
However, Sébastien Haller is probably more likely to line up in the striker role.
Predicted XI: Kobel; Wolf, Süle, Schlotterbeck, Ryerson; Malen, Bellingham, Can, Guerreiro, Reus (C); Haller.
Nine games remain in the 2022-2023 Bundesliga season; there are 27 points still up for grabs.
With that, anything can happen, so a leading margin of just one point is nothing.
Although neither side necessarily needs to win this one, it still has the potential to be decisive.
Given Bayern’s dominance over Dortmund across the past decade and the quality of their squad, you would imagine that a Bayern win here would be enough for them to secure an 11th successive ‘Meisterschale’.
1 – For the first time since MD 28 of the 2018-19 season, Dortmund lead the league ahead of an Bundesliga match against Bayern München – back then Dortmund ended up losing 0-5 away from home. Clash.
The preview for the upcoming top of the table clash:https://t.co/n8qr5cEX2d
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) March 30, 2023
They would go two points clear with eight games to go.
Added to that their ‘new manager bounce’ under Thomas Tuchel, it would seem very likely to go their way, especially as BVB’s confidence would likely be shot in that instance.
Both sides have very similar run-ins, which leads you to believe that this will be a title decider.
But anything can happen in football so the title race could still go down to the wire.
A win for the Black and Yellows, however, would really make things interesting and the Yellow Wall may finally start to believe.
A four point lead with sky high confidence after defeating their rival and Germany’s best team of the past decade would make Edin Terzic’s side feel unstoppable.
They’re undefeated in 10 Bundesliga matches in 2023 anyway, so a win here would really set them on their way and leave it in their hands.
It will be a tense affair but hopefully an entertaining one.
The biggest match in German football is at its biggest.
One of the most anticipated dates on the footballing calendar – what a game this promises to be.