Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund: The Bundesliga's top two braced for title race six-pointer in Der Klassiker


Borussia Dortmund hold a one-point lead over defending champions Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga after 25 rounds of fixtures. Can they make the ultimate statement by winning Der Klassiker in Munich, when the action resumes after the March international break?

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The case for Dortmund...

Dortmund ended a full round of Bundesliga fixtures on pole for the first time since August 2019 after extending their unbeaten start to 2023 to 10 league matches (W9, D1) with a 6-1 rout of Cologne - a result that fell 24 hours before Bayern's 2-1 loss at Bayer Leverkusen. It all adds up to 10 more points than Bayern in the same period for a BVB team that were down in sixth prior to the 2022 World Cup break.

Dortmund's table-topping turnaround has been helped by a huge upswing in front of goal. They've scored a league-high 30 times in 2023, outdoing their Expected Goals (xG) by 10.4 - another gold standard since the turn of the year. You might point to their vast attacking riches, but it's still no mean feat given they were bottom feeders in the same category at the end of 2022, along with relegation-threatened Schalke (-3.9).

Watch: Dortmund hit Cologne for six on Matchday 25

In short, Dortmund head to the Allianz Arena in control of their own destiny. Win their remaining nine fixtures, and they will be parading the Meisterschale through the city's Borsigplatz once again, after 10 years of Bayern dominance. A handful of other factors may also play into Terzic & Co.'s hands.

Eliminated from the Champions League at the last-16 stage, BVB only have the distraction of one-legged DFB Cup ties - they face holders RB Leipzig in the quarter-finals four days after Der Klassiker, with the semis slated for 2-3 May - and have a reasonably favourable run-in against teams with an average standing of ninth. The fact they came from 2-0 down to draw the first Klassiker of the current campaign is an additional psychological boost.

Remaining fixtures: Bayern (a), Leipzig (a - DFB Cup), Union Berlin (h), VfB Stuttgart (a), Eintracht Frankfurt (h), Bochum (a), Wolfsburg (h), Borussia Mönchengladbach (h), Augsburg (a), Mainz (h)

Watch: Dortmund produced a stunning comeback to draw with Bayern on Matchday 9

The case for Bayern...

Although Bayern have already dropped more points in 10 matches in 2023 (12) than they did in 15 before the winter break (11), the record champions have history on their side. Aside from being 10-in-a-row champions, the last time they weren't top this late in a season, the red machine hit five without reply past Dortmund (Matchday 27, 2018/19) to redress the balance and ultimately take the crown by two points.

The result was in keeping with Bayern's natural tendency to find another gear in meetings with BVB. The 31-time Bundesliga champions have not lost a single one of the eight match-ups when the two German giants have been first and second in the league standings (W7, D1), and have won the last eight Klassikers in front of their own fans by an aggregate score of 33-6.

Watch: Yann Sommer looks ahead to Der Klassiker after Bayern's defeat in Leverkusen

Should Bayern be pushed all the way in their pursuit of a record-extending 11th successive Bundesliga title, they have goal difference on their side. With a league-high 72 goals scored and a division-low 27 conceded, Bayern - with new coach Thomas Tuchel at the helm - are streaks ahead of the opposition on +45, compared to Dortmund's +24. What's more, they're top dogs across the season for xG (57), finishing (+15), xG against (27.9), goal attempts (473), challenges won (55 percent) and possession (61 percent).

Bayern have already recorded wins over six of their eight remaining opponents after Dortmund, drawing with the other two - Leipzig and Cologne - earlier this year. BVB, by contrast, claimed five fewer points in their final eight fixtures of the Hinrunde, losing to Union Berlin, Wolfsburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach.

As the Bundesliga's last man standing in the 2023/23 UEFA Champions League, Bayern have two more games to play than Dortmund in April, followed by another two in the second and third week of May, if they reach the last four. On paper, Bayern's extra workload should be a boon for the Black-Yellows, but the defending champions' continental treble exploits of 2012/13 and 2019/20 suggest otherwise.

Remaining fixtures: Dortmund (h), Freiburg (h - DFB Cup), Freiburg (a), Man City (a - Champions League), Hoffenheim (h), Man City (h - Champions League), Mainz (a), Hertha (a), Werder Bremen (a), Schalke (h), Leipzig (h), Cologne (a)