Goal.com looks ahead to the clash between Germany's biggest club and by far its best team, who have rattled the men from Munich.Wanting To Show Who Is Number One
Although some will claim a free week following a comfortable victory stroll on the domestic front is the ideal preparation for a crunch fixture against a team of the calibre of Borussia Dortmund, the Champions League fixture with Inter should have presented no such problems for Bayern Munich. Year after year, the ability to deal with fighting on multiple fronts and one big game after another have become ingrained in the club culture.
Bayern's form has unquestionably spiked upwards since the reunification of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery in Louis van Gaal's starting line-up. The Dutchman in particular is one of the world's finest players, even if his talents are not always appreciated by the wider footballing community due to his patchy fitness record.
Bolstered by their wonderful wingers, Bayern went some way to exacting revenge on Inter for last year's Champions League final defeat. Der Rekordmeister perhaps walked the tightrope on occasions, especially as Samuel Eto'o was in the mood. However, they found the perfect balance between defence and attack against an Inter side who have a reputation for not keeping clean sheets. Unsurprisingly, van Gaal believes that it will be a more difficult task this weekend:
"We can definitely still improve in possession. Inter have a very good team. We have made a good stride forward. It will be more difficult against Dortmund. We have this game in our legs and we have to play as early as Saturday."
This is probably a bigger game for Bayern than Dortmund although it promises to be a feisty encounter. In spite of Dortmund's mammoth advantage over Bayern, Christian Nerlinger believes that Bayern remain the premier club in the Bundesliga. The sporting director pointed out that the likes of Wolfsburg and Stuttgart had been surprise champions in recent years and neither had been able to maintain the consistency demanded of a top club. Given Dortmund's superior pedigree and incredible fanbase, as well as one of Europe's best stadia, the odds must be on der BVB providing a much greater threat to Bayern's status as king in the medium to long term.
Aus-sie Up To It?
Unlike their opponents, runaway league leaders Borussia Dortmund had no European adventure during the week however, that did not mean a lack of drama in the Ruhrpott. On Tuesday, Roman Weidenfeller, enjoying the best season of his career, suffered a knee injury after a collision with centre-half Mats Hummels. The 30-year-old, who recently signed a new contract to ward off interest from Aston Villa, now sees his ever-present status placed in great danger.
Of course, one man's misfortune is often another's opportunity and in this case, Dortmund's second choice goalie Mitchell Langerak stands to benefit. Langerak hails from Australia, who have produced a string of fine keepers over the years, including Ian Healy and Adam Gilchrist. And that's just in cricket! The 22-year-old Langerak is seen as their heir apparent in the Socceroos team to Mark Schwarzer and he has some pedigree, finishing runner-up in the A-League with his former side Melbourne Victory in 2010. Juergen Klopp remains unruffled.
"It's getting better and the pain is going down. We will leave the decision to the last moment. If he shakes the injury off, he will play. [If not], then one of the best Australian goalkeepers will deputise between the sticks for one of the best German keepers," he told the club's website.
On the pitch, Dortmund are ticking over nicely and whilst not quite at the level of their scintillating form of the Hinrunde, they displayed the ruthlessness of champions last week in their 2-0 victory over an in-form St Pauli. Lucas Barrios was on the scoresheet with a fine finish and he will relish the duel with the Bundesliga's sharpest shooter Mario Gomez. Crucially for the visitors, Neven Subotic is reunited with Mats Hummels. The Serb had a game to forget in Kaiserslautern two weeks ago and will need to be back to his imperious best if die Borussen are to put the final nail in Bayern's coffin.
Danijel Pranjic is a major doubt after coming off during Bayern's Champions League win in Milan with an adductor problem. Holger Badstuber would be the most likely deputy with Breno slotting in alongside Anatoliy Tymoschuk at the heart of the defence. Given his fine display in midweek, it seems likely that Luiz Gustavo will retain his midfield spot alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Probable Starting XI: Kraft - Lahm, Tymoschuk, Breno, Badstuber - Luiz Gustavo, Schweinsteiger - Robben, Mueller, Ribery - Gomez
As discussed above, it looks likely that Roman Weidenfeller's knee injury will rule him out although understandably, Dortmund will do everything possible to have him right for the Saturday teatime fixture. Should he not make it, Australian stopper Mitchell Langerak will deputise. Neven Subotic returns from suspension to partner Mats Hummels and Kuba should make his return on the right wing after injury. His compatriot Robert Lewandowski is on standby, and he would line up behind Barrios with Goetze moving out to the flank.
Probable Starting XI: Langerak - Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - Bender, Sahin - Blaszczykowski, Goetze, Grosskreutz - Barrios
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