Reigning German and European champions FC Bayern München arrive in town tomorrow night for the first meeting between the top two clubs in the country for seven months. It’s the last of three consecutive games at Signal Iduna Park before BVB hit the road for three away games in three different competitions.
Robert Lewandowski (calf) and Taye Taiwo (shin) are still receiving treatment for injuries, and Kostas Katsouranis may start from the bench after playing 180 minutes for the first team in the last week. The medical staff have hinted that Mario Götze is still a week from match fitness.
Roman Weidenfeller, Felipe Santana and Mats Hummels will likely return as Dortmund are sure to play their strongest possible line-up before trips to lowly VfL Bochum and third-teir Heidenheim next week, ahead of a dead-rubber trip to Arsenal in the Champions League.
BVB will open up an eleven point gap over their rivals with a win tomorrow, but defeat will give Schalke the chance to close the gap to just four points, with Munich and Leverkusen a point behind them.
Fußball-Club Bayern München e.V. need absolutely no introduction as the reigning UEFA Champions League and Bundesliga champions, and the most successful club in the country, having won a record 23 national titles (ten of the last seventeen) and fifteen national cups.
Ahead of tomorrow’s match, Bayern sit third in the league on 23 points – one behind Schalke, and eight behind Dortmund. They’re unbeaten at home (winning 5, drawing 1), but away form has been inconsistent with just one win in seven. They’re eight unbeaten in all competitions at present, however, with their last defeat coming with a 1-4 loss at Manchester City in the Champions League.
Two consecutive 2-2 draws in Europe leaves their destiny out of their own hands, and face the potential of finishing bottom of Group G should they slip up next week at group leaders Fenerbahçe. They are through to the last sixteen of the domestic cup, having beaten SGV Freiburg and Mönchengladbach so far.
Bayern will be without Javi Martínez for the trip to Dortmund tomorrow after his dismissal at Wolfsburg on Saturday, and can’t call on the services of Bastian Schweinsteiger (broken arm), Mario Gómez (calf), and Arjen Robben (leg) who have nineteen goals between them this season. National first-choice ‘keeper Manuel Neuer will also miss out after suffering tendonitis.
Dortmund’s Champions League winner Lars Ricken helpfully pointed out to Dortmund Daily that Bayern’s main threat tomorrow will be Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic who has twelve goals to his name this season.
Ref: Marco Fritz (Stuttgart)
Last season, the clubs met a total of four times in each of the three domestic competitions. League spoils went to Bayern who won 3-2 in Dortmund a year ago before a comfortable 3-0 home win in March. They also met in the last sixteen of the DFB-Pokal with Claudio Pizarro’s 75th minute goal all that separated the sides in Dortmund.
The hat-trick of wins were revenge for BVB winning the traditional season curtain-raiser DFB Supercup on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
Marco Fritz referees his first match for either side this season tomorrow. He’s taken charge of seven Bundesliga matches this season, showing 16 yellows and 1 red (for a second booking). Mr Fritz sits 16th and last of the top-flight referee rankings, with an average rating of just 6.85.