Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are set to play their 120th matchup on Saturday with the Bundesliga title on the line. But it’s more than just that. These two clubs have dominated Germany for the last decade and have even met in a Champions League final in 2013. They’ve shared 21 of the last 24 Bundesliga titles and although there it’s not a derby based on location, it’s instead one based on a power struggle between the two teams over the last few decades. Players have gone from Dortmund to Bayern seeking the bigger club’s lifestyle and titles, while others have stayed true to the yellow and black for their whole careers. They’re utterly different in nature as Bayern’s fans have a sense of ‘Hollywood’ while Dortmund’s fans come from a working class mining town. It’s Bavaria v. North Rhine, blue collar v. white collar, champions v. runners-up… you get the point.
Now they will add add a new chapter as Bayern look to climb back to the top of the table and Dortmund look to cement their first title in seven years, breaking Bayern’s run of seven straight titles.
Der Klassiker, 12:30 pm EST
Borussia Dortmund @ Bayern Munich (TV: FOX) – The last time these two met, Dortmund came back from being down a goal twice to win 3-2 at home. Going into this past weekend, Bayern got up to -350 (350 to win 100) to win the Bundesliga until they shockingly drew to Freiburg 1-1 and Dortmund scored two stoppage time goals to beat Wolfsburg. Dortmund quickly went from being tied on points to having a two point lead. Bayern still remain favorites at -175 as Vegas expects them to win here while Dortmund sit at +140. Things then went from bad to worse for Bayern as they barely squeaked past Heidenheim of the 2nd division in the domestic cup quarterfinals on Wednesday. They started mostly their full squad and will likely be tired after having to fight for a win, while Dortmund will be rested and in good form. If you told me we’d be where we are a week ago, there’s no way I’d believe you.
Both teams have several crucial players who have missed some time recently, but Bayern look set to return star goalie Manuel Neuer and outside back/all-purpose David Alaba. I expect them both to provide an immediate boost to a poor run of form. Dortmund will be missing outside back Hakimi and winger Pulisic due to more serious injuries that they suffered recently, limiting their depthf or this match and the rest of their run for the title.
I think the most crucial thing for this match is whether or not Dortmund will play too timid, or if they can balance a sense of carefulness with a calculated attack whether that be on the counter or not. If Dortmund allow Bayern too much space and time to push forward it could be trouble, but if Bayern let Dortmund counter (what they do best) then they could be at risk of completely bottling the league. I think Dortmund will try to make it a game immediately, not allowing Bayern to set that tempo early. If they can do that for the first 15-20 minutes and then try to hit Bayern on the counter, it will disrupt any sort of flow Bayern will have. It will be a chess match and I think if anyone gets an early goal, it will flip the entire game on it’s head.
Since Dortmund only need a point, are in better form and will have the fresher legs, I love them as underdogs on a one-goal spread. Basically I’m betting against Bayern running away with the match. I also like the one-goal spread because Dortmund know they will be fine with a draw, allowing them to not overextend themselves if instead they needed to win. It should be an absolute cracker of a match on bigtime FOX and I recommend everyone try to watch at least a portion of what will feel like a Final. Borussia Dortmund (+1, +105).