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Top-of-the-table clash

Stage set for ‘one of Europe’s best games’

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Ten matchdays to go, with ten times three points on offer. Saturday evening’s Klassiker will not yield more than the said three points for either of the heavyweight title contenders, but the German footballing family is speaking of a “six-pointer” as FC Bayern and Borussia Dortmund face off in a mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash (Live in English from 18.30 CET on Twitter and Web Radio). After the midweek defeat to Mainz FCB are five points clear of BVB. It is still a comfortable cushion, but Karl-Heinz Rummenigge cautioned: “We don’t want to lose in Dortmund.”

Fond memories of a 5-1 victory in this season’s reverse fixture are still alive. “It was a great performance,” commented Robert Lewandowski, “but it’ll be different away to Dortmund.” An 80,000 crowd will turn the Signal Iduna Park into a cauldron and noisily get behind the Black and Yellows. The Bavarians will need to stay calm and think positive. “I'm happy to travel to Dortmund and witness this match, this atmosphere,” declared Pep Guardiola on Friday.

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The Catalan is looking forward to “one of the best matches in Europe. Games like this one are the reason why you become a footballer in the first place.” Apart from Jérôme Boateng, Javi Martínez and Holger Badstuber all the Bayern stars reported for the final training session and will be available on Saturday. It means Guardiola has many options, especially in terms of his attacking unit. Will he again field five of his seven forwards from the start? Or will the Reds play more defensively this time?

“Our idea is this: take the ball – and play,” commented Guardiola with a grin: “In any case I hope it'll be spectacular. The match should be a great advertisement for German football.” The Spaniard knows that his troops will have to do better than against Mainz: “We aren't perfect. Sometimes you have to lose in order to understand what to do to be an even better team.”

So the plan is to learn from past mistakes. Guardiola aims to return to winning ways after Mainz and prevail in this “very, very important” encounter away to the best second-placed side in Bundesliga history. But the 45-year-old stressed that the title race will not be over even in the case of an FCB win. After all, Saturday evening cannot yield more than three points...

Build-up news from Dortmund

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Coach Thomas Tuchel: “We’ll do everything we can to give Bayern a hard time. But it wouldn’t be the first time Bayern produced a perfect performance in a situation like this. We’ll suffer at certain moments, but we mustn’t lose our belief in those phases.”

Captain Mats Hummels: “We want to make it exciting again – very exciting even. We want to cut the gap to two points. It’ll be a fierce fight. Munich know what’s coming at them – but we also know what we can expect.”

Please note: As well as the top Bundesliga clash, a motorcycle trade fair and the Signal Iduna equestrian cup are also taking place in Dortmund this weekend. Fans are strongly recommended to travel by public transport rather than private car.