The champions host the nation's most successful club, the leaders play the team in second, the best attack in the league (Bayern with 69 goals) faces the second best (Dortmund with 66 goals), and the best team in the first half of the season is visiting the best of the second half. It is the clash the whole Bundesliga has been waiting for, and it takes place on Wednesday evening (Live in English from 8 PM CET on FCB.tv Web Radio) when Bayern play away to Borussia Dortmund. “It's a clash of the titans, between teams totally on a par with each other," declared Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, “we'll throw everything we have into the match."
For the fifth to last fixture of term, Signal Iduna Park will be packed to its 80,720 capacity, although BVB received more than 450,000 requests for tickets. If Bayern win, they will move level with Dortmund on points and go top on goal difference. A draw would leave Munich within striking distance, but defeat would “probably settle the title race," Rummenigge conceded. “No-one can afford any mistakes and it will take total concentration. It'll be a tough 90 minutes for both teams."
“In my opinion, the title won't be decided until the last day," advised Jupp Heynckes, subtly conveying his conviction that his team is not destined to lose in Dortmund. On the contrary: “We have to play to win," the boss continued, calling for “not just a courageous display, but an absolutely peak performance." In the light of nine straight victories, there is no doubting FCB's current good form. “We're very confident and optimistic as we travel to Dortmund," stated Christian Nerlinger.
Wary of champions Dortmund
Heynckes reckons the key to success on Wednesday night will be for his team to play as a compact unit. “At the end of the day, I think the collective will make the difference. Every player has to produce a top individual display within a team structure. That will be decisive," the Munich coach opined. “I'm optimistic, because we've been very stable for many weeks now, we're playing football to a very high standard again, and we've recovered the rhythm which made us so strong before Christmas. And our best players, who have the ability to win matches on their own, are back on peak form."
However, champions BVB are also in exceptional form. The leaders are undefeated in their last 23 Bundesliga matches, and received a boost on Tuesday with the news that Wunderkind Mario Götze could return to the squad after months out with a pelvic injury. “We know we're up against a very agile, robust, hard running and aggressive team who'll be urged on by the crowd. Dortmund are set up to attack," Heynckes summarised. Given the situation in the standings, BVB have “a slight edge, but they're under just as much pressure as we are."
Heynckes: It'll be a great game
Dortmund have won their last three matches against Bayern, “and that's irritating. We want to put things right tomorrow, and we’ll give everything we have to bring three points home with us to Munich," said club captain Philipp Lahm, “it's not just the fans and reporters looking forward to this match, it's the players too."
Viewers in more than 200 countries will be glued to their screens when FCB step out at Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday evening. “It's a meeting between two teams who play top-class football, so the fans at the ground and watching on TV can expect a great match," said Heynckes, “it's certainly not your run of the mill Bundesliga fixture."