Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund meet third-placed Bayern Munich in ‘Der Klassiker’ on Saturday.
Dortmund hold a four-point advantage over reigning champions Bayern heading into the Signal Iduna Park clash.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at some of the main talking points ahead of the match.
New coach Lucien Favre has hit the ground running in Dortmund with his side unbeaten after 10 matches. Dortmund can equal the club record of 11 Bundesliga games without defeat, set at the start of the 2002-03 season. Bayern have been inconsistent compared to their usual high standards as new coach Niko Kovac has found it tough adjusting to the demands of the job. Bayern’s difficulties suggest they can no longer demolish Bundesliga teams at will.
Paco packs a punch
Spain striker Paco Alcacer is back to boost Dortmund after injury. Alcacer has been one of the form strikers in Europe since joining Dortmund on loan from Barcelona. The 25-year-old has chiefly been used as a substitute and scored seven goals in his first four games, at an incredible ratio of one every 33 minutes. Alcacer was briefly slowed by a thigh injury, but his return to full fitness spells danger for Bayern.
If there is one player who loves this fixture more than any other, it is Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski. The free-scoring Poland international has made a habit of scoring in ‘Der Klassiker’. Lewandowski hit a hat-trick when Dortmund thrashed Bayern 5-2 in the 2012 German Cup final, a feat he repeated in the Bavarians’ 6-0 win against his old club in March. Dortmund know stopping Lewandowski is key to claiming a first win over their great rivals in five attempts.
Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel has had a huge impact at Dortmund this season. Witsel moved to Germany in August after a curious seven-month stay at Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian, and has weighed in with three goals as well as being Dortmund’s midfield enforcer. How Witsel and Thomas Delaney fare against Bayern rivals Javi Martinez and Leon Goretzka in the midfield battle will go a long way to shaping the outcome of the contest.
– Press Association