Borussia Dortmund can gatecrash former boss Thomas Tuchel’s unveiling party at Bayern Munich on Saturday and take another step closer to thwarting the Bavarian giants’ bid for an 11th consecutive Bundesliga title.
Dortmund sit one point clear of Bayern but face their title rivals at Munich’s Allianz Arena, which has been a graveyard for their aspirations in the post-Jurgen Klopp era.
Winning nine of 10 league matches in 2023, Dortmund come into the match in blistering form.
Bayern have won five from 10 in that period, leading to the dismissal last week of manager Julian Nagelsmann for former Dortmund boss Tuchel.
Dortmund’s last league win in Munich came in 2014 under Klopp with the title race well and truly decided in Bayern’s favour.
Since then, Bayern have chalked up eight ‘Der Klassiker’ victories in a row, scoring 33 goals and conceding just six.
“It’s a huge game for all of us. It’s a matter of building confidence and anticipation,” said Tuchel.
“There’s no bigger challenge than starting my time here with a game against Dortmund. It’s the biggest game in German football, and has an added element to it, given the current state of the league table.”
In 2018-19, the last time Dortmund headed to Munich in first place late in the season, the visitors were handed a footballing lesson.
Thrashed 5-0 after being down 4-0 at halftime, Dortmund would ultimately lose the title to Bayern by two points.
Even Tuchel, the most successful Dortmund coach of the post-Klopp era, could not manage a league win in Munich.
He was however in the hot seat the last time Dortmund won at the Allianz, a 3-2 comeback victory in the semis of the 2016-17 German Cup.
While a draw would preserve Dortmund’s one-point lead with eight games remaining, midfielder Emre Can said this week “we’re going there to win.”
“It’s going to be extremely difficult, but we believe in ourselves.”
Leon Goretzka, who was subbed off early for Can in Germany’s 3-2 loss in a friendly against Belgium in Cologne on Tuesday with an ankle complaint, looks set to take the field.
“I feel good. I twisted my ankle but it should be fine for Saturday,” said Goretzka, who came to Bayern from Dortmund’s arch derby rivals Schalke in 2018.
One to watch: Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich)
Since arriving from Manchester City in the summer of 2020, Leroy Sane’s inconsistency has frustrated Bayern Munich fans — because of how brilliant he can occasionally be.
Now 27, the former Schalke forward should be entering the prime of his career but his form has dipped so much that Sane was left out of Germany’s squad for recent friendlies against Peru and Belgium.
Former managers Hansi Flick and Julian Nagelsmann were unable to get Sane to replicate his Man City form consistently, something Tuchel will hope to rectify.
Tuchel addressed the expectations in his first Bayern training session, giving smiling Sane a playful kick up the behind.
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