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Thiago misses out

Bayern going into top-of-the-table clash with confidence

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The tension is building! On Tuesday evening (live ticker from 18:30 CEST on fcbayern.com), the eyes of the footballing world will be on Dortmund for the top-of-the-table clash between BVB and FCB at Signal Iduna Park, with the match being broadcast in over 200 FIFA member states. “Both are in top form,” said club legend and honorary president Franz Beckenbauer ahead of the Klassiker on Matchday 28. “It should be a great game. We’ll have to see whether Dortmund still have home advantage in an empty stadium.” This match will also take place behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve compiled everything you need to know in the build-up to the game.

The situation

Bayern have won 12 of their 13 matches in the league, the other one being the 0-0 draw against RB Leipzig. Not even the enforced break due to coronavirus could stop the men from Munich, who have claimed deserved wins in their first two outings since the restart. Hansi Flick’s side particularly impressed in the 5-2 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend, which maintained their four-point lead over Dortmund at the top of the table going into Tuesday’s meeting.

However, with talk about a victory possibly deciding the title race, Flick was having none of it. “After this match there are still several matches to play. It’s important that we push ourselves to the limit in every game.” In the reverse fixture, Bayern were comfortable 4-0 winners in Flick’s first Bundesliga game as head coach. “The circumstances are very different now. We’re on a good run. It’ll be a nice game, which we’re looking forward to. These are the games that make the sport and the job, so every player has a little bit of extra motivation,” said the 55-year-old in Monday’s press conference.

Tuesday’s game promises to be a spectacle. We’ve examined the form of both teams:

The opposition

Dortmund are the only side yet to lose at home in the Bundesliga this season, and like Bayern they’re in brilliant form having won each of their last six league matches. They’ve also kept a clean sheet in both their games since the break – the defence had previously been regarded as the Black and Yellows’ weak link. Now they’re looking to cut the gap on FCB at the top. “You don’t have to be a great prophet to know that if we want to stay in the hunt for the title, we should win this game. After this there are only six games left,” commented Dortmund’s sporting director Michael Zorc.

Coach Lucien Favre should be able to count on Mats Hummels for the crunch match, despite the former Bayern defender being forced off with an Achilles problem at Wolfsburg on Saturday. “It’s 99% sure he’ll be there,” said the Swiss tactician. Axel Witsel is also set to return to the squad following a lengthy lay-off, but Marco Reus remains sidelined.

Even without Reus, Dortmund are a formidable attacking force. With 74 goals, BVB are the second highest-scoring team in the league – second only to Bayern:

The team news

Flick will again be without Thiago in Dortmund, as he was against Frankfurt. “I would’ve liked to have had Thiago there,” said the boss. Jérôme Boateng, however, has shaken off the knock that forced him off on Saturday. Long-term absentees Niklas Süle (rehab after ACL tear), Corentin Tolisso (ankle surgery) and Philippe Coutinho (rehab after ankle surgery) will miss out again.

Leon Goretzka was as accurate in the final training session as he was against Frankfurt on Saturday. Flick named the Germany international as a possible replacement for the injured Thiago.

What the coaches say

Hansi Flick: “It’s great when two such good teams face each other. You can test yourself against the best in the Bundesliga. Dortmund brought in two reinforcements in January [Emre Can and Erling Haaland], players who bring huge character. We have to be at our best and be prepared.”

Lucien Favre, Borussia Dortmund coach: “Playing against Bayern is always special. Compared to the reverse fixture, we’re now playing with a different formation which better suits our squad. We’ve also added two strong players in January with Emre Can and Erling Haaland, who have increased the quality.”

You can read more from Hansi Flick's press conference here:

Top fact

With his incredible form this season, Robert Lewandowski is following in the footsteps of the legendary Gerd Müller. In fact, the Pole has already surpassed der Bomber in one respect: Lewandowski has scored 16 Bundesliga goals against Dortmund, two more than the 1974 World Cup winner. In total, the ex-Borussia striker has found the net 17 times in ‘der Klassiker’ – 16 for Bayern and once for his former employers.

Bayern looked in good spirits and ready for the big match in their final training session. See for yourself in the images:

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