The match we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. Bayern will take on Dortmund in Saturday's late kickoff in the Bundesliga.
Recently Sotiris Kyrgiakos took it upon himself to ensure Neven Subotic's absence in one of the biggest matches, if not the biggest match of his team this season. His elbow broke quite a few bones in the Serbian's face, ruling him out for six weeks. Thus, Dortmund will be devoid of an important team player just like Bayern.
Bastian Schweinsteiger, the most important part of Bayern's engine room, will have to be satisfied with either a spot on the couch or a spot in the stands.Schweinsteiger and Subotic will both be unavailable until at least January.
To move on to worse news for BVB and better news about Bayern, let's talk about Marcel Schmelzer and the oft-injured Arjen Robben. Schmelzer is facing a race against time to be fit for the clash on Saturday. So, for now, we can assume that Chris Lowe will be starting for BVB in the left-back slot.
Felipe Santana will start in place of Subotic. Meanwhile, a face who has not really been missed but is required at the moment will be seen on the Bayern bench again. Robben has been passed fit for this one after overcoming what according to him is the most painful injury he has ever had.
That spot which belongs to Schweinsteiger in the Bayern team will be heading to...David Alaba. Jupp Heynckes has apparently confirmed that Alaba will start in that role even though neither the official Bayern website nor the official Bundesliga website have confirmed this yet. That means Heynckes spent his time doing something else rather than watching Germany's international matches this week. If he had watched, he would have seen just how phenomenal Kroos was in that role both against Ukraine (3-3) and the Netherlands (3-0).
If BVB grabs an early goal and Bayern have to push up more and more, expect Alaba to go off, Robben to come on, Thomas Mueller to switch to the hole behind Mario Gomez and Kroos to shift into defensive midfield.
Luiz Gustavo is guaranteed to start in defensive midfield as Anatoliy Tymoshchuk has been handed a three-match ban. The reason behind this ban is a foul in the final minutes in the win over Augsburg prior to the international break.
Going back to the Augsburg match, Bayern looked to be missing something with a pairing of Tymo-Alaba in defensive midfield. They almost lacked a spark but took a 0-2 lead nonetheless. When Augsburg scored in the second half, the team looked in shambles. They held out thanks to a glorious save from Manuel Neuer.
With Gustavo back into the side, Bayern won't exactly get a spark—what they will get is much-needed defensive stability. Also, Gustavo was Bayern's only goal scorer in last season's loss to BVB at the Allianz Arena.
Dortmund's form has been excellent—in their last six matches in the Bundesliga, they have recorded five wins and a draw. They hammered Wolfsburg in their last match.
The key to stopping BVB is really to make sure their front men Robert Lewandowski and Mario Goetze don't see the ball too many times. Goetze is the player who really makes Dortmund tick, and Dortmund has become quite reliant on him this season. That being said, Dortmund is solid from back to front, even though the defence has looked vulnerable at times this season.
BVB has a knack of wasting too many chances, and the Bayern back-line has improved enough to keep out Lewandowski. Another interesting decision is whether Heynckes will go with Rafinha at the back. Very often, Heynckes has decided to leave out the attack-minded Rafinha in important games. The problem with that is Daniel Van Buyten is played in defence. Holger Badstuber needs a good central defender next to him, and Jerome Boateng is that figure. Van Buyten hasn't done badly this season; Boateng is just a younger, better and smarter option.
Also, Kevin Grosskreutz will be most likely featuring for BVB on the left-wing. Grosskreutz's form hasn't been great, and starting Rafinha in the right-back slot would be the right idea. All the same, Heynckes knows best, and his decision to go with Boateng in that slot in big matches hasn't exactly back-fired.One player to keep an eye out for will be BVB's Moritz Leitner. Leitner has impressed whenever he has been handed a starting role.
These are probably going to be the lineups:
Pizczek- Santana- Hummels- Lowe
Goetze- Kagawa- Grosskreutz (Perisic)
The pre-match buildup has been a lot of fun with BVB chief Hans-Joachim Watzke visiting Munich and eating food cooked by Bayern's team chef Alfon Schuhbeck. He informed Uli Hoeness of his visit, though. Juergen Klopp stirred the pot slightly, saying that Bayern has dominated but is yet to play his team. Mats Hummels feels that BVB can win whereas Schweinsteiger feels that Bayern has enough quality to put the match to bed, especially with Robben's return.
Christian Nerlinger believes that Dortmund is Bayern's main rival for the title while Karl Heinz Rummenigge has been praising how BVB has worked in all sectors to bring the club back from the brink of bankruptcy into the spotlight of German football. Despite believing in his side's qualities, Klopp still feels Bayern is the hot favourite for every title, and no team would relish a trip to the Allianz Arena.
Bayern lost both the encounters between the two teams last season by a combined score of 5-1. Jupp Heynckes incidentally was the coach of the only team that was able to beat BVB in the Westfalen Stadium last season—Bayer Leverkusen. The final result was 2-0.
Dortmund has to come at Bayern in this match. Bayern has a five-point lead at the top of the table over Dortmund in second. No matter what happens, Bayern will remain at the top of the table come next weekend.
As the saying goes, "Revenge is a dish best served cold." Will Bayern take revenge for the two defeats last season? I would like to hear your thoughts.