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Top-of-the-table clash at Borussia Dortmund

Bayern "positive ahead of Klassiker"

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“The German Klassiker” and a “battle of prestige” is how Niko Kovac described his excitement ahead of Saturday evening’s Bundesliga clash at Borussia Dortmund (from 18:30 CET, coverage available via our live ticker). Bayern travel to Dortmund four points behind leaders BVB, who are yet to lose at home this season. “Right now we’re the ones who have to chase Dortmund,” Kovac stated ahead of the match.

However, the 47-year-old does not feel any pressure when looking at the table. “We’ll enjoy the game,” declared the coach, who is “thinking positively” and assuming that his team “will put in a good display and get a result”. However, Kovac is well aware this won’t be an easy task. “BVB have a lot of strengths and few weaknesses at the moment. And when you want to find them, you need to look with a magnifying glass.”

Mutual respect

“Dortmund are maybe even the favourites,” said Robert Lewandowski of the role reversal, but he also hopes that “the gap in the table is smaller after the match.” The Pole netted a brace during the week in the 2-0 win over AEK Athens, and he wants to build on that back at his former club. “We took an important step during the week in the Champions League, but now we need to take another against Dortmund.”  

His coach is therefore expecting “a match where both sides show mutual respect”. The opposition know that “we have a good team,” Kovac stated. Manuel Neuer is also expecting a “meeting of equals” and declared that Bayern have to “give everything to win”. Besides long-term injury absentees Corentin Tolisso, Kingsley Coman and Thiago, the champions are also without Arjen Robben, who hasn’t travelled because a knee problem.

Confident Borussia

In Dortmund they don’t want to let the current table distract them. “Bayern are still Bayern,” declared BVB coach Lucien Favre, who added, “From defence to attack, they’ve got huge experience.” The Swiss technician is therefore calling for a “top performances” from his side on Saturday but will have to do so without full-back Marcel Schmelzer (knee). First-choice goalkeeper Roman Bürki has also been struggling with a bruised thigh, and Abdou Diallo with an adductor problem, and questions marks remain over the pair’s appearances.

BVB’s 15-match unbeaten start under new coach Favre was ended on Tuesday at Atletico Madrid with a 2-0 loss. However, Borussia do not appear unsettled by a first setback of the season. “I don’t think we feel too hung up about it,” said centre-back Manuel Akanji, before adding confidently, “We’re still unbeaten in the Bundesliga, and we want to remain so.”