Why Dortmund can upset Bundesliga leaders Bayern in Der Klassiker
Barrie White previes Der Klassiker as Borussia Dortmund look to kickstart their season against Bayern Munich
Picture the scene.
There’s a half-naked man hanging off the terraces at the Allianz Arena, spittle hanging off his perfectly-coiffured beard, covered in beer thrown from his fellow jubilant supporters.
That man is Jürgen Klopp.
His Borussia Dortmund side have inflicted the first home defeat on champions and never-ending nemesis Bayern Munich and, on the way, have kickstarted their own Bundesliga season.
Is it going to happen? Well, as said in the MD9 wrap, not for us to say, guv.
Der Klassiker is on Saturday, but with more of an edge for differing reasons than in previous years.
Dortmund head to Munich in relegation form, one place above the drop zone, but arguably not in relegation trouble…yet.
With four straight defeats, Klopp would have wanted some momentum from returning stars before a tilt at Pep Guardiola’s side, but as it is, the Yellow and Blacks will face Bayern with no win in six Bundesliga games.
But as any fans of Discworld will know – something regularly mentioned in these columns – all of those factors building against BVB amounts to a million-to-one shot…and that might just work!
There’s no reason why Dortmund can’t at least grab a draw on Saturday, provided they can bring their cup and European form into Bundesliga action.
So far, Klopp’s side have won every Champions League and DFB Pokal game and, it mustn’t be forgotten, are DFB SuperCup holders too.
In the league, however, things are very different.
Defeats by FC Köln, Hannover, Mainz and even Hamburg (and they lose to everyone), as well as having to fight back to claim a 2-2 draw with a poor Stuttgart side, means they face a fight to qualify for Europe. Yes this early.
In Europe, Dortmund are allowed to play their natural ‘Premier League in disguise’ game of high pressing meaning opposing back lines are swamped.
In the Bundesliga, they can’t do that as teams just let them push into their half but knock the ball past them in the air, or push up high meaning space is limited.
However, there wouldn’t be a problem if BVB’s confidence in front of goal would return, but sadly, that too has deserted them. Other teams have taken their chances against them.
On Saturday, there is potential for a result that could mark the end of Klopp’s career in Dortmund, which would obviously alert many in the Premier League.
However, there is a kindling of hope for BVB fans. The tactics that Klopp hasn’t budged from all season could beat Bayern.
Despite only signing just before the window closed, the Bavarians rely heavily on ex-Liverpool man Xabi Alonso, but a pressing game using Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marco Reus and Ciro Immobile, or with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Adrian Ramos will deny Bayern the space they need.
Get that right, and there’s a good chance Klopp will be naked on the pitch come 60 minutes.
As for Bayern, their route to victory will come from sheer ruthlessness. Not efficiency – they still play with great style – but the fact is for them, one chance equals one goal.
Since being held 0-0 by Hamburg on September 20, Bayern have scored 27 goals in eight games.
Quite simply, they take their chances, and with Mario Götze and Thomas Müller in fine form, they can afford to not have ex-BVB man Robert Lewandowski on form – though he has still found the net plenty of times.
One performance key to the result is Manuel Neuer. If, by the law of averages, every keeper is due a stinker, his is due.
Well, it was due 18 months ago, but still hasn’t turned up due to Germany’s number one being quite brilliant throughout.
His five saves against Gladbach on MD9 was a masterclass in skill, technique and concentration, considering he goes long spells without being worked.
Neuer is dominant in the air and while sweeper-keeper is a long-used term, somehow it feels it was invented for him.
Bayern warmed up for the Klassiker with an easy win over Hamburg in the DFB Pokal on Wednesday. At some point, Neuer dribbled it out 40 yards, past two opposing players before popping it off in the centre circle.
He likes to showboat. As a dyed-in-the-wool Schalke fan, Neuer may take the opportunity to rub Dortmund’s noses in it.
It could bite him on the bum at the same time if he tries something and it doesn’t come off.
As for predicting the winner, sheer logic says Bayern will stretch their lead at the top of the Bundesliga and leave Dortmund in real relegation fear.
But one can never rule out a repeat of 2013/14 and a 3-0 win for Dortmund because of Klopp and a siege mentality.
Dortmund know how to win and what better stage than in the Klassiker.