Der Klassiker: Dortmund's chance to go from title pretenders to title contenders
This time it's not just the Germans or the Europeans, the whole world is gearing up for Der Klassiker. It has been quite some time that a title race had occurred for the Bundesliga Championship. But Borussia Dortmund have been very promising so far this season. They can establish themselves as true title contenders this weekend as they face their arch-rivals and 28-time champions, Bayern Munich.
The last time Dortmund stayed at the top of the table, they came crumbling down in a few weeks as the eventual title winners, Bayern Munich covered a 5-point deficit after Jupp Heynckes took over from Ancelloti in a short span.
Dortmund never really recovered from the slump and sacked their manager, Peter Bosz after a string of poor performances in the domestic league and also in the Champions League, in which they failed to qualify for the knock-out stages. Peter Stoger was appointed as the replacement for Bosz.
Some may argue that they were pitted in a tough group consisting of Real Madrid and Spurs. But never forget, they played Real Madrid in group stages a year before too and took points off both the games against them (2016-17) under Thomas Tuchel.
Dortmund's tough season continued as they failed to hold on to their striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the winter transfer window and eventually finished just inside the top four securing a Champions League place.
But that was last season. This season Dortmund are all guns blazing under Lucien Favre who took Borussia Monchengladbach to a decent standard during his tenure there. Addition of loanees from Barcelona and Real Madrid, Paco Alcacer and Achraf Hakimi respectively, has been a huge boost for the squad as both of them are exceeding expectations at the club.
Alcacer, the top scorer in the league, had a very interesting minutes-to-goal ratio in October, scoring 6 in 81 minutes! His form earned him an international call-up where he continued his fine goalscoring form for Spain and he is still in Luis Enrique's plans for the forthcoming games.
Dortmund are still unbeaten in the Bundesliga and they only suffered their first defeat of the season two days ago at the hands of Atletico Madrid. Though it was just a 2-0 defeat, the scoreline suggests little about Atletico's dominance of the game. In spite of having nearly 70% of the possession, Dortmund had only 4 shots and none on target.
But Atletico were dangerous every time when they broke out with the ball; they had 15 shots and 7 were on target. Burki had to make crucial saves to keep Dortmund in the game during the first half.
It is actually not the best time to suffer your first defeat of the season when you are about to face Bayern Munich in the following game. But Dortmund will keep faith in them and take confidence from their domestic form. Remember, they also defeated the same Atletico 4-0 at Westfalenstadion.
Coming to Bayern Munich, It was a comfortable win for the German champions in the CL outing this week but they failed to score from open play against AEK Athens as both the goals came from set-pieces (one penalty and one from a corner).
Looking at their domestic form, it is fair to say that they haven't found their old mojo yet under their new boss, Niko Kovac, who was instrumental at Eintracht Frankfurt last season.
In the past few seasons, Bayern usually score first in most of the Bundesliga games and won't concede an equalizer. If they did, they will try and get the winning goal in most occasions but they haven't been able to do it this season, at least not until this point. Now they have a chance to give a blow to Dortmund's title chances and reduce the point difference at the top to one.
Both the teams would go into the game looking for a win. Head to head statistics favour Bayern Munich as they have won four of their last five meetings with Dortmund including a 6-0 thrashing last season. But with a good domestic form and boasting the likes of a fit-again Marco Reus along with flourishing attackers Jaden Sancho, Paco Alcacer and solid midfielder Axel Witsel, Dortmund must feel good going into the game.
They will fight hard to achieve a 7 point lead at the top of the table. This can truly be a season-defining game for both the clubs and we fans are in for a treat this weekend!