It's been an intense few weeks for Borussia Dortmund, with games in the DFB Cup and Champions League following hot on the heels of each Bundesliga outing. But the highlight of this challenging autumn run is still to come for the Black & Yellows, who travel away to FC Bayern on Saturday evening in what will be the third edition of this prestigious fixture in 2019. BVB coach Lucien Favre and sporting director Michael Zorc looked ahead to the match in their press conference on Thursday.
In the words of Michael Zorc, BVB have an "absolutely horrendous record" to show for their recent Bundesliga visits to the Allianz Arena, where the Black & Yellows are now winless in the league for five and a half years. His message at the press conference was clear: "We need to match them. We haven't done that there in recent years. That's the clear demand for our players." There has been evidence in the recent games against Mönchengladbach, Wolfsburg and Inter that the players already recognise this requirement. The sporting director believes Favre is primarily to thank for that. "The coach is very lively and energetic, which has contributed to us turning such games around after going behind. He is always making specific demands of the lads, which I think is very good."
Momentum from the Champions League
Favre himself is naturally aware of the poor results BVB have obtained in the Bavarian capital in recent times. But while he and his team respect FCB, they do not fear them. Bayern lost 5-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt on their last Bundesliga outing, prompting the sacking of coach Nico Kovac and the appointment of Hans-Dieter Flick on an interim basis.
Flick made a successful start to life in the dugout on Wednesday as Bayern beat Olympiacos 2-0, but his Borussia Dortmund counterpart does not think there is much to glean from that game. "There's not much to say about the match yesterday," said Favre on Thursday. "After two days with a new coach, it's difficult to implement big changes."
Involvement of Reus and Sancho doubtful
When asked about the personnel situation at Bayern, who have recently had to field a makeshift central defensive partnership due to an injury pile-up, the Swiss tactician was in no doubt about the number of viable alternatives. "They have several other possibilities in this position; Pavard and Martínez can play in central defence too. They can compensate." Whether Favre will himself have to compensate for absent personnel is not yet clear. "In the case of Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus, we need to wait and see. In addition to them, we have two or three other players who are not yet entirely fit and a decision will not be made until tomorrow at the earliest."
It is the first time in several years that neither team has gone into this fixture as Bundesliga leaders. Nonetheless, Michael Zorc believes it is evident that match-ups between FCB and BVB are hugely significant, adding: "The outcome of this match plays a significant role, also in terms of how the rest of the season unfolds." Lucien Favre is certainly aware of the occasion ahead of his fourth meeting with Bayern as BVB boss, saying: "It's a very special fixture."