Dortmund vs Bayern Munich Preview

German Bundesliga | Saturday 05 March | Signal Iduna Park | 19:30

Bundesliga rivals and giants Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich square off at Signal Iduna Park in what is perhaps Dortmund’s last chance to exert any pressure on a Munich side positively marching to their fourth consecutive title. The champions have an eight-point cushion over the challengers so bar a highly unlikely late season implosion on the part of Bayern, only victory will do for the hosts. One needs to look back to August 2014 for the last time that BVB beat this weekend’s opponents - a 2-0 victory in the German Super Cup - and to April of the same year for their last league victory over Munich. 

To Win (90mins)
Borussia Dortmund 24/10
Draw 5/2
Bayern Munich 11/10

Borussia Dortmund

“If Bayern Munich slip up, we want to be there,” said captain Mats Hummels following Dortmund’s narrow 1-0 victory over Leverkusen the Sunday before last. This sentiment would have seen a more consistent Wolfsburg in with a shot at the title last season as Munich dropped league points amid an injury crisis and the more pressing concerns of the Champions League. Never say never. Of course, Dortmund’s best chance of closing the gap between themselves and the champions is by beating them on Saturday, in the process becoming only the second side to do so in the league all season. 

It’s a massive ask but to become the champions, they must beat the best. Dortmund have gone 13 matches unbeaten in all competitions at the time of writing, drawing only once. BVB practically limped into their Bundesliga tie with relegation-threatened Hoffenheim as enigmatic manager Thomas Tuchel is forced to nurse his squad through a packed February and early March schedule. Dortmund were made to come from behind to earn their three points at home as Hoffenheim hero turned villain Sebastian Ruby opened the scoring and picked up a red card. This proved to be the turning point for Dortmund with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Adrian Ramos and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all netting in the final 10 minutes to keep the title race alive. 

Mkhitaryan has been the focal point of Dortmund’s stylish attacking play, the attacking midfielder a constant source of creativity. The Armenian was the man to crack Hoffenheim’s brave defence and assisted to round off another fantastic night in the Black and Yellow. Mkhitaryan has nine goals for the season and has been the perfect compliment to Dortmund’s much-coveted striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Despite a largely lackluster performance against Hoffenheim, the Gabonese forward was on hand to slot a tap-in and take his tally of league goals this season to 22. Beating out Yaya Toure to the African Footballer of the Year award, Aubameyang simply must fire if Dortmund have any hope of leaving with the spoils.

Bayern Munich

Pep Guardiola will leave for Manchester City at the end of the season and it’s difficult to see him doing so without another Bundesliga title. Bayern Munich have won 20 of their 23 matches this season, securing 62 points in the process. This equates to picking up just shy of 90% of the points on offer, the best return of any club in Europe’s top five leagues after PSG succumbed to Lyon last weekend. A victory on the road in Dortmund will almost certainly see the league title all but sewn up. Guardiola is likely to rotate in Bayern’s midweek fixture against Mainz, leaving Munich’s best primed to continue the streak that has seen them unbeaten in their last 12 competitive matches. 

Munich were tested last weekend against Wolfsburg, unable to break the deadlock until Kingsley Coman hammered home a loose ball in the 66th minute. Robert Lewandowski put the match beyond doubt eight minutes later, as Coman burst down the right wing and crossed, reaching Franck Ribery who chested the ball into the path of Lewandowski. The Polish striker finished from an awkward position, once again showing a deadly eye for goal. Lewandowski now has 23 Bundesliga goals for the season; more than any other player since the legendary Gert Muller. 

Essentially, if most of Munich’s squad keep fit, this match is the only one standing between the side and another title. Although Bayern lost to Monchengladbach away from home in December, Dortmund are still the most likely of candidates to trouble the Bavarians. However, the reverse fixture ended 5-1 in Munich’s favour, certain evidence that should Bayern play to their full potential, there will be little that Dortmund can do to prevent another loss. 

Probable line-ups:

Borussia Dortmund 4-3-3
Burki; Ginter, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer; Gundogan, Sahin, Weigl; Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, Reus.

Bayern Munich 4-1-4-1
Neuer; Lahm, Kimmich, Alaba, Bernat; Alonso; Robben, Muller, Ribery, Costa; Lewandowski. 

Betting Verdict: Bayern Munich (11/10)
I feel that Dortmund have a top quality side that in most of Europe’s main leagues except for Spain, would be challenging for top honours. However, Bayern Munich are simply a cut above the rest in Germany. The 11/10 on offer for the away victory is simply too good to pass up given both the recent head-to-head statistics and the importance of this match to give Guardiola’s charges a sizable cushion heading into the sharp end of the Champions League. 

Written by Rick John Henry