Bayern Munich host Borussia Dortmund on Saturday in a monumental game that could decide the direction of the Bundesliga title at the end of the season.
At the beginning of the international break, Julian Nagelsmann was in charge of Bayern after their 2-1 loss against Bayer Leverkusen. The Rekordmeister were outplayed by Xabi Alonso’s team and were lucky to be 1-0 up at half-time, but two Exequiel Palacios goals turn the tie around, meaning Bayern slipped one point behind Dortmund.
A few days after the Leverkusen loss, Bayern decided to part ways with Nagelsmann and bring in former Dortmund head coach Thomas Tuchel. With the majority of Bayern’s first-team squad being away on international duty, Tuchel only has had a few days to try and get his ideas across before one of their biggest games of the season.
Dortmund on the other hand go into this game comfortably. Before the international break, they dispatched FC Köln 6-1 to send them top of the league. Raphaël Guerreiro once again put in one of his best performances from midfield, while Donyell Malen also stepped up for Dortmund. Apart from an injury scare to Nico Schlotterbeck over the international break, Dortmund will welcome the return of Gregor Kobel who had missed the past four games with a thigh injury after Alexander Meyer played understudy.
For Bayern, they cannot afford to not hit the ground running under Tuchel. The next two weeks are crucial for the rest of Bayern’s season with this game against Dortmund and then back-to-back games against Freiburg before their Champions League quarter-final game against Manchester City. Bayern will be without Jamal Musiala who injured himself in the Leverkusen game whilst the likes of Leon Goretzka may not be 100% fit after going off injured in Germany’s 3-2 loss to Belgium in midweek. The positive for Bayern is that their run in for the Bundesliga is a lot easier than Dortmund with their only difficult game being against RB Leipzig, but they are still competing on all three fronts.
Dortmund must win this game against Bayern. A win would extend their lead to four points and with them still needing to face Union Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt and Wolfsburg a win would give them a cushion in case they do slip up in the remaining games of the season. Once again all eyes will be on Dortmund’s midfield with Emre Can gaining praise for his performance in midweek for Germany, Guerreiro finding his form again in midfield as well as Jude Bellingham, who has not been at his best in recent weeks, which could be a result of fatigue and his knee which has been heavily taped for a while.
In the meeting earlier on in the season, Dortmund scored in the 95th minute to complete their comeback from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Bayern. However, with Bayern now having a completely different coach the outcome of this game is as unpredictable as ever.
GGFN | Jack Meenan