Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich will square off for the 100th time in the Bundesliga on Saturday evening (18:30 CET). League leaders BVB will head to the Bavarian capital with a two-point lead over their hosts, a scenario which will make for a real top-of-the-table clash as both clubs gear up for the season run-in.
There was a real party atmosphere when the Black & Yellows wrested back top spot from their rivals last weekend. And the BVB management believe that returning to the summit will give them vital momentum heading into Saturday's game. "We've already shown in the reverse fixture that we're capable of beating them. And that we can always find our way back into a game. Nonetheless, we're going to need a top performance to win," said sporting director Michael Zorc.
"The table situation means it'll be a special game"
Lucien Favre and Michael Zorc were all laughs and smiles in a well-attended media room at Signal Iduna Park on Thursday. The head coach, who was his usual optimistic and focused self, said: "The table situation means it'll be a special game. It's Bayern against Dortmund, but there are seven games remaining in total. We'll need to produce a perfect performance if we're going to win."
Favre knows what he is talking about. He has not lost any of his last three meetings with the Bavarians. Nonetheless, he remains wary. "They have weaknesses, but not many. On the flip side, they have many strengths." Meanwhile, his charges have claimed three wins on the bounce to return to the Bundesliga summit. "We're obviously delighted we'll be heading there as league leaders," added Zorc. (Flashback: Black & Yellows moments to remember in Munich).
Personnel situation: Alcácer, Diallo & Piszczek doubtful
It remains unclear which players will be on board the plane to Munich on Friday afternoon. "At present, it's difficult to say for certain who'll miss out and who won't. We'll see after our training session tomorrow," said Favre. It is equally unclear whether striker Paco Alcácer, who has 16 goals this term, can play on Saturday. The Spaniard has notched a goal every 60 minutes this season – the best average across Europe's top five leagues. The coach is hopeful. "There's a chance he'll be involved on Saturday." Alcácer certainly has happy memories of this fixture, having scored the winning goal in a 3-2 victory in November.
Another player whose involvement remains doubtful is Diallo (Favre: "He only did running today."). Meanwhile, vice-captain Lukasz Piszczek is back in full training, but the coach wants to see how the final training session goes. Among the definitive absentees is Achraf Hakimi, who broke his foot in the match against VfL Wolfsburg. The 20-year-old Morocco international has already undergone successful surgery in Madrid and will miss the remainder of the season. (Here's how they might line up).
The meeting between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will be broadcast live in over 200 countries. (peck)