Bayern v. Dortmund; A Der Klassiker for a Title?

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).

Who Will Win the Bundesliga? The Case for Borussia Dortmund

The last time a team won the Bundesliga that wasn’t named Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund was in 2008-2009 when Wolfsburg triumphed atop the German table. This year will be no different as the two clubs are tied atop the Bundesliga table, eleven points ahead of third place Leipzig. Luckily for Bayern they have a seven point lead on the goal differential tally, the tie-breaker if both clubs are tied on points, but a lot can change over the next two months especially when these two clubs face each other on April 6th.

I’m going to go into who has the better shot at winning the league title with their respective paths to the finish. In this piece I will go over Dortmund, following with a piece for Bayern’s chances.

The Case for Borussia Dortmund

Dortmund were on top of the table for most of the season until their bad run of form in February and early March, where they went five matches with only one win in the league and eight matches with one win in all competitions. They crashed out of the Champions League, DFB Pokal and lost their grip atop the Bundesliga table, allowing Bayern to take the top spot. Bayern’s outstanding form has also attributed to this as they have had only one league loss since away at Dortmund back in November. But Dortmund began to turn things around a bit with back to back wins before the international break and should come out of the break feeling good. Another thing that will help their title chase is that they will be playing less matches than their rivals Bayern, as the Bavarians will be playing in the DFB Pokal, the German domestic cup. They are expected to go far in the league cup, possibly chopping up their focus on the Bundesliga title.

Let’s see what Dortmund’s road ahead looks like and if they can gain enough points to top Bayern.

HOME v. Wolfsburg – Dortmund haven’t lost to Wolfsburg at home in the league since 2012 but they haven’t been beating them comfortably recently either. Their last two matches were 0-0 at home last January and a 1-0 win for Dortmund at Wolfsburg this past November. Wolfsburg are also on the cusp of a Europa League spot as they sit four points off of a guaranteed place in European competition and are tied with Leverkusen for the Europa League playoff spot. This has the makings of a trap game for Dortmund, and could well be a draw. But for the sake of this hypothetical let’s say they take the three points at home where they have yet to lose this season.(3 pts).

AWAY v. Bayern Munich – Ahhh the big one. If someone can grab the three points here they will surely be the favorites to win the league. The bad news for Dortmund is that they haven’t taken points away at Bayern in the league in five years and Bayern have won seven straight home games this year scoring 24 goals and conceding only 2. It will be a very tough task for Dortmund to come in and they may even try to settle for the draw. I think that will doom them and I expect Bayern to take this one. (0 pts).

HOME v. Mainz – They shouldn’t have trouble with a Mainz side who have been poor this season especially away from home where they have collected only 11 points from 13 matches. (3 pts).

AWAY v. Freiburg – Freiburg haven’t been bad at home this season, ranking mid-table in that juncture but they just aren’t strong enough to beat this Dortmund team. They haven’t beaten Dortmund since May of 2010 and I see that trend continuing. (3 pts).

HOME v. Schalke – What’s really tricky about this match for Dortmund is that Schalke could be facing a relegation battle at this stage in the season and are historically always up for this derby. They’ve split the last two and the previous four encounters resulted in draws. If Schalke are fighting for their lives I think another draw is likely here in what is always a very tightly contested match. (1 pt).

AWAY v. Werder Bremen – Another trap game here for Dortmund as they face a Werder team who has troubled them not only in this season but in recent years as well. Their DFB Pokal match earlier in the year went to penalties with Werder prevailing, their league match in December was very tight going 2-1 to Dortmund and the last time these two met at Werder they drew 1-1. I think Dortmund slip up again here and drop points in a very tough away match. (1 pt).

HOME v. Fortuna Dusseldorf – As of 3/25 Dusseldorf sit in 12th place and although they’ve been good against top opposition this year, I don’t see them waltzing into Signal Iduna Park in May and getting points. This will be Dortmund’s easiest chance at three points and I expect them to take full advantage.. (3 pts).

AWAY v. Mochengladbach – If the league is still up for grabs on the last day of the season here, expect an all-timer between these two clubs. Gladbach have been brilliant this season sitting in 4th place and have been more than capable at home. They could be likely fighting for a Champions League spot and I have a hard time envisioning Dortmund coming out of this one with all three points. If both teams are fighting for something, I see this one being a draw. (1 pt).

With that point tally Dortmund would finish with 75 points, which would very rarely win you the Bundesliga. But with this seasons lower-than-normal point total you never know and if they can pick up form during this stretch then anything can happen. Their odds to win the Bundesliga currently sit at (+225) which has value, but their path does looks grim as they’d need to win two derbies and a tough match on the last day of the year to win the league. They’d also likely have to finish above Bayern instead of tying them as they are behind on goal differential, another obstacle for the yellow and black.

As I said before, their price to win the league does have value based on the positive odds, but the reality of their race to the top is that they’d likely need a miracle run to win it. I wouldn’t buy into Dortmund right now but I also wouldn’t completely rule out their chances to make things interesting, especially if they can grab points against Bayern. But with that being unlikely and due to them being behind on goal differential, I don’t see Dortmund coming out of this season crowned champions.

Keep an eye out for Bayern Munich’s case for the Bundesliga coming soon.

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo
Facebook: Can I Kick It

Champions League R16 Leg 2 3/12-3/13

With Arsenal’s six-point swing over United, Chelsea’s dropped points against Wolves and Spurs’ blown lead to Southampton we now officially have two races at the top of the table. City and Liverpool still remain a point apart at the top of the table but it’s now third through sixth that will be fought for over the next two months as well. Here’s how the top 6 shapes out:


This Season’s Record: 161-140-38 (+0.2 Units)
Matchweek 30 Record: 6-3-1 (+3.0 Units)

The footy rolls on as we close out the Round of 16 in the Champions League this week with only one of the matchups really being out of reach and the rest still up in the air. Let’s get to it.

Tuesday, March 12th
4:00 pm EST

Atletico Madrid (2) @ Juventus (0) (TNT) – Atletico got two crucial goals in the first leg and will be in damage control mode in the second leg here as they know if they bag a goal they should be good to go through. Sitting back actually suits Madrid since they’re known as defensive stalwarts, but they’ll be facing a fresh and rested Juve side who have been unbeatable at home this season. In their 4-1 win on Friday they rested Ronaldo, Chiellini, Dyabala and Mandzukic in preparation for this match compared to Atletico who played on Saturday and started a few more starters in their 1-0 win over Leganes. Juve know they need to score goals which is what they’ve done all year at home and with Ronaldo’s Champions League track record, I love Juve to win this game at the least. We’ll see if they advance but I like them as slight favorites in this match. Juventus (-0.5, -130).

FC Schalke (2) @ Manchester City (3) – There are a couple huge warning signs for Schalke going into this match. The first being they will likely need to score three goals to overcome the aggregate score and the away goal difference (assuming City get a goal in this game). The second one being the rumors that they might not put out a lot of their first team due to injuries and due to their fight to stay in the Bundesliga as they’re only four points from safety. And third, they are 1-2-6 in their last nine matches with each of their last three matches being multiple-goal losses. Yes, City haven’t been their normal self recently, will be without Fernandinho, De Bruyne and Otamendi and have been shaky in the Champions League this season but this is their chance to right the ship in an advantageous position against a vulnerable opponent. They showed signs on Saturday that they are slowly finding their goal-scoring abilities and this will be their first back to back home match since early January. I think City will run through Schalke here and get a few early goals to put the nail in the coffin. Manchester City (-2.5, -105).

Wednesday, March 13th
4:00 pm EST

Lyon (0) @ FC Barcelona (0) – Lyon did a wonderful job keeping Barcelona at bay in the first leg but they now have to go to the Camp Nou and win, or at least keep a clean sheet long enough to put into penalties. I don’t think that will happen. But what I do think will happen is them keeping Barcelona at bay again, enough to cover or at least push the two-goal spread. Lyon have gone undefeated in the Champions League this season, beating City once, drawing City another time and now drawing Barcelona in the first leg. This is a team that has lost by more than two goals once this season, away at PSG a long time ago, and one that figured out how to limit Barca’s effectiveness in front of goal in the first leg. They allowed Barca to go at them, but stayed stout in and around the box keeping everyone behind the ball rather than getting beaten when Barca advanced the ball forward. Although this tactic often can’t last for a whole match, it can last for just long enough to cover a two-goal spread. Lyon also rested many of their starters and key players in preparation for this match over the weekend while Barca still had to start most of their main core. Barcelona will advance don’t get me wrong, but this is a Lyon team that will make that very hard on them and subsequently I’ll take the points. Lyon (+2. -120).

Liverpool (0) @ Bayern Munich (0) (TNT) – This is probably the best match overall of the week when considering the matchup and the aggregate score. Two European titans battle it out in the second leg with everything to play for after going 0-0 in the first? Sign me up. Much of this match is up in the air on paper as it could go either way. Liverpool’s defensive ability and Bayern’s offensive prowess match up so well it’s almost impossible to pick who will come out on top. But there are two things that stick out in this match that I think give Bayern an edge. First thing that jumps off the page is that Bayern will have an extra day of rest since the Premier League didn’t let Liverpool change their Sunday match against Burnley where they won 4-2. The next thing is form. Bayern has one loss since November 10th, are 6-1-0 in their last seven and during that span they have a goal differential of +12 (19 goals scored and 7 goals conceded). Liverpool meanwhile are 3-5-0 in their last eight with draws against Bayern, United and Everton. It’s not that they’re playing poorly but more that they’re not playing to the standard they will need to go to Munich and beat a red hot Bayern side. I like Bayern to win the match in the 90 minutes and advance to the Quarterfinals. Bayern Munich (-0.5, +110).

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo
Facebook: Can I Kick It

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