"Every football fan in Germany is looking forward to this match." The 125th competitive meeting between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich will take place early on Tuesday evening (18:30 CET) – and BVB sporting director Michael Zorc is not the only one eagerly anticipating kick-off.
"It's always special to play against Bayern," said coach Lucien Favre, who is targeting his third home win in a row against the men from Munich following the league triumph last season and the 2-0 Super Cup victory. "We want to keep going in this respect." Michael Zorc admitted that any other result would mean a premature end to the title race – to the detriment of second-placed Dortmund and in favour of the record champions from Munich. You don't need to be a great prophet to recognise that "if we want to compete for the title, we should win the match. There will only be six matches left to play afterwards. In that sense it's simple – but very difficult to put it into practice because Bayern have a great team."
"The two best teams are playing against each other"
The league leaders have been the best team since the winter break with 28 points from 10 matches – narrowly ahead of BVB, who have 27 points. "The two best teams are playing against each other," said Zorc, who is monitoring not only the action at the summit but also the competitors for a place in the UEFA Champions League directly beneath them. "We need to beware of Leipzig, Gladbach and Leverkusen". Zorc spoke of a "high concentration of quality at the top of the table", adding: "We haven't had that for a long time, and it's good thing for German football."
Lucien Favre has scrutinised the opponent ("Every team has their strengths and their weaknesses") and is delighted to have another one of his key men returning to the fold: following Emre Can's 45-minute appearance in Wolfsburg, Axel Witsel could be the latest player to make his comeback from the bench ("That's very good for us and for him"). "He started to train with the team yesterday. He might be included in the squad." And Jadon Sancho, who has one goal, one assist and two wins in his five matches against Bayern, is also "slowly but surely getting back to his level" after having been lacking match fitness.
"We can always score goals against them"
That will provide the coach with the opportunity to bring some fresh legs into the team three days after the victory in Wolfsburg. Thomas Delaney has started both of the last two matches following a seven-month injury-enforced absence. Could Can replace him in the team? Will Mo Dahoud, who put in an outstanding performance in the 3-2 home win over Bayern in 2018/19 (kicker rating 2), keep his place? Favre was naturally unwilling to answer those questions. But he did reveal that Mats Hummels will "99 percent" feature.
"We must believe in ourselves," urged Zorc. "And not make any cheap mistakes in possession. It will come down to the qualities that we have displayed well on the pitch in our last two matches. The team was really on their game." He added: "We need to ride out the spells in which Bayern are dominant. We'll need to defend very well together as a team." And "be aware of our own qualities going forward. We can always score goals against them. And we can beat them!"