Robert Lewandowski (left) of Bayern Munich vies with Borussia Dortmund’s Manuel Akanji (right).
Bayern Munich will welcome Borussia Dortmund to the Allianz Arena in a blockbuster Bundesliga clash on Saturday, April 23. The latest instalment of the famous Der Klassiker will see the two best teams in the German first division go head-to-head.
Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern Munich are cruising towards a record-extending tenth consecutive Bundesliga title. That would be the 31st league triumph in their storied history. With four games to go, Bayern have 72 points and are nine ahead of Marco Rose’s second-placed Borussia Dortmund.
How have Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund fared in the Bundesliga in recent weeks?
Bayern Munich are unbeaten in their last five Bundesliga games and are coming off a comfortable 3-0 win over 17th-placed Arminia Bielefeld in their previous fixture. Most importantly, a win in Saturday’s game will see Nagelsmann’s side clinch the 2021-22 Bundesliga title.
Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund thrashed Wolfsburg 6-1 in their last league game but are still reeling from a 4-1 thumping against RB Leipzig earlier this month. BVB are on a seven-game losing streak against the Bavarians, who hold a 66-34 advantage in the head-to-head record between the two clubs.
On that note, here are five players to watch out for in the upcoming Der Klassiker.
#5 Manuel Akanji (Borussia Dortmund)
Manuel Akanji (right, #16) will lead Dortmund’s defence in the absence of Mats Hummels (left).
Veteran defender Mats Hummels has been ruled out of the game with a thigh injury. In his absence, 26-year-old centre-back Manuel Akanji will marshall the Borussia Dortmund backline. The Swiss international has made 32 appearances across competitions this season, the most by any BVB defender.
Dortmund have conceded 43 league goals this season, and their recent defensive record isn’t too impressive. Rose’s men have kept clean sheets in just four of their last ten games across competitions, conceding 13 times. It will be interesting to see how they hold up against Bayern Munich’s free-scoring attack.
#4 Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich)
Serge Gnabry lines up for the Bavarians.
Reports in Germany earlier this week suggested Bayern Munich are unwilling to meet Serge Gnabry‘s demands regarding a pay raise. The German international is out of contract next year and is in his prime at 26.
The winger has scored 15 goals and provided ten assists in 41 appearances across competitions for the Bavarians this season. It has been nearly five years since he arrived at the club from Werder Bremen for a reported €8 million fee.
With 12 Bundesliga goals this campaign, Gnabry has already matched his best output in a single league season in a Bayern Munich jersey. A strong finish to the campaign could convince both parties to agree a new deal.
#3 Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich)
Dayot Upamecano carries the ball up the pitch.
When Julian Nagelsmann arrived at Bayern Munich from RB Leipzig last summer, he was joined by 23-year-old French centre-back Dayot Upamecano. The Bavarian giants paid €42.5 million to secure the highly rated defender’s services.
Upamecano’s debut season with the club has been a mixed bag. He has shown flashes of brilliance, especially in possession, and has made 35 appearances across competitions. Bayern also boast the best defensive record in the Bundesliga, conceding only 29 goals in 30 games so far.
However, the German giants have kept just four clean sheets in their last ten games and have been vulnerable to counterattacks. That weakness came back to haunt them in their recent UEFA Champions League quarterfinal exit to Villarreal, where they conceded in both legs.
Upamecano will go up against one of the best strikers in the world on Saturday and could have his work cut out, which brings us to…
#2 Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
Can Erling Haaland beat Bayern Munich for the first time in his career?
Norwegian sensation Erling Haaland has a very good record against the Bavarians, scoring five goals in six competitive meetings. Despite the 21-year-old’s strong individual displays, he has never finished on the winning side against Bayern Munich, with Borussia Dortmund losing all six of those games.
Injuries have hampered Haaland’s 2021-22 season, although he has delivered when available. The Norwegian has 25 goals in just 26 games this season, including 18 strikes from 20 Bundesliga fixtures.
Dortmund coach Marco Rose recently revealed that Haaland is playing through the pain barrier and has not completely recovered from an ankle issue. The striker scored twice in BVB’s previous game against Wolfsburg but was on a five-game goal drought in the league before that outing.
If Dortmund are to break their losing streak against Julian Nagelsmann’s men, they will need their talismanic striker to be at his very best.
#1 Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
Robert Lewandowski (#9) and Thomas Muller (#25) celebrate a goal against Borussia Dortmund.
Who else but former Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski? The Polish superstar has continued to bite the hand that once fed him, scoring 26 goals in 25 games against his previous employers.
His Bundesliga record against BVB, in particular, is terrific, with the striker netting 22 times in just 15 games. It has been nearly eight years since Lewandowski switched allegiances on a free transfer. At 32, he is showing no signs of slowing down and has scored 47 goals in 42 games across competitions this campaign.
With 32 league goals this season, Lewandowski is on the verge of winning the Bundesliga’s Golden Boot award for a seventh time. That would see him match the late Gerd Muller’s tally. It would not be a surprise to see Bayern’s main man secure yet another league title for the club on Saturday.