Verdict: Erling Haaland to score
Best odds: 1
It’s “Der Klassiker” in the German Bundesliga this week, with Bayern Munich hosting Borussia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena on Saturday in what will a be a part of the 24th round of the 2020-21 season. Though the rivalry between these two clubs has been disputed as among the greatest in the country, there can be no real disagreement on the fact that they have indeed been the two most successful German clubs in recent times.
It’s hard to find something new to say about Bayern Munich at the moment. “Champions of everything”, as Liverpool fans referred to their team after adding the Premier League title to the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup last year, Bayern have repeated the feat and even added the DFB-Pokal into the mix, which means they actually did win everything they played for in 2019-20. Brought in initially as a stop-gap solution, head coach Hans-Dieter Flick has truly proven he is the man for the job.
Bayern are, of course, at the top of the Bundesliga table with 52 points at the moment, but they still have a lot to play for on that front with RB Leipzig hot on their heels with only two points less. Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt are doing extremely well too, with 45 and 42, respectively.
The Bavarians were on a great run of results going into the Club World Cup in February, but the tournament in Qatar left a bit of fatigue on their account which saw them narrowly avoid what would have been a shocking defeat at home against Arminia Bielefeld. They went 0-2 and then 1-3 down, but the game ended 3-3. After that they did lose 2-1 away to Eintracht, before FC Koln took the brunt of their anger with a 5-1 thrashing in Munich last week. Before the CWC, they beat Schalke away by 0-4, Hoffenheim at home by 4-1 and Hertha in Berlin by 0-1.
In the Champions League, Bayern beat Lazio in Rome in the first leg of the round of 16 by 1-4, and they now await the rematch quite comfortably.
Flick has confirmed that defender Benjamin Pavard will miss this game as he recovers his fitness following a recent Covid-19 infection. Midfielder Corentin Tolisso, winger Douglas Costa, goalkeeper Alexander Nubel and forward Tanguy Nianzou are all set to miss out as well with various injury issues.
In the absence of Pavard, centre-back Niklas Sule is likely to play at the right defensive flank. Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman and Thomas Muller will probably be deployed behind Robert Lewandowski upfront.
They may belong to the phrase “the two most successful clubs in Germany” at the moment, but in reality, it’s been a while since Dortmund had any tangible success due to Bayern’s domination. This is the fourth year since they won their last DFB-Pokal (though they did take the German Super Cup in 2019). As for the Bundesliga, the last time they were crowned champions was in 2012, back in the days when they had Jurgen Klopp at the helm. The current Liverpool boss led them to the Champions League final the following year, but there they were beaten by none other than Bayern Munich.
Things don’t look too good for Dortmund at the moment. They are in fifth place with 39 points, three off Eintracht in fourth, and are in actual danger of missing out on Champions League football. In December, they parted ways with head coach Lucien Favre. The post is currently being held by Edin Terzic, but it has been confirmed that Borussia Monchengladbach boss Marco Rose will be taking over in the summer.
As for the Champions League, Dortmund are locked in round-of-16 battle against Sevilla, but they do have an advantage after beating the La Liga side 2-3 in Seville in the first leg.
Dortmund’s last-six run of league games begins with a 4-2 defeat away to Gladbach back in January and their form has been a bag of mixed results since then. They beat Augsburg at home by 3-1, lost 2-1 away to SC Freiburg, drew 2-2 at home against Hoffenheim, beat Schalke away by 0-4 and Arminia at home by 3-0.
Terzic won’t be able to count on defender Manuel Akanji, as well as midfielders Axel Witsel and Marcel Schmelzer. Akanji’s absence likely means that Emre Can will be starting in defence alongside former Bayern centre-back Mats Hummels. Erling Haaland is nailed-on to lead the line upfront, with Jadon Sancho and captain Marco Reus in support.
There can hardly be any discussion about which team is more likely to win this game. With all due respect to Dortmund, no team in the world can honestly consider themselves favourites against Bayern these days.
That aside, it will be interesting to see two of the world’s hottest attacking players line up against each other. Lewandowski is widely considered the best player in the world and has scored 34 times in 32 appearances in all competitions this term, but Haaland is certainly not far behind with 27 in 27. With these two leading the attacking lines, you’d expect at least a goal apiece. You can back Lewandowski to find the back of the net at 4/9 with 888sport, or you can go with Haaland instead.
Verdict: Erling Haaland to score
Best odds: 1