Huge points in the 2023/24 Bundesliga title race are up for grabs when Borussia Dortmund host Bayern Munich on Saturday. bundesliga.com explains why Der Klassiker will go the way of last season's runners-up...
1) Form of champions
Fourth-placed Dortmund conceded three goals in Frankfurt last weekend, but they fought back each time to rescue a hard-earned point that keeps them unbeaten after nine games, and within two of second-in-the-table Bayern. It was also the fourth match in nine in which they've come from behind to get a result.
Edin Terzić has sacrificed a measure of pizzazz, swapping in a good dose of pragmatism, making BVB incredibly difficult to beat. And as the saying goes, winning when not playing well is the hallmark of champions - as Bayern proved by pipping the Black-Yellows to the post on goal difference last term.
Vote: Who will win Der Klassiker?
2) Signal Iduna Park fortress
No less than 81,365 fans will be in attendance at the Signal Iduna Park for Der Klassiker, predominantly of a Dortmund persuasion.
Some of the most passionate in the business, the BVB supporters have played their part in an on-going 20-match unbeaten home run in the Bundesliga, dating back to Matchday 2 of last season (a 3-2 loss to Werder Bremen from 2-0 up that should never have been).
Seventeen have ended in maximum points, with the remaining three all 2-2 draws - including the most recent Klassiker on Dortmund soil. Terzic's men trailed 2-0 with under an hour gone in that one, but roared back courtesy of late goals from Youssoufa Moukoko and Anthony Modeste.
It's no coincidence, either, that Dortmund's last Klassiker win against Bayern fell in front of their own fans - a 3-2 triumph from 1-0 and 2-1 down. Nowhere does football's 12th man better.
Watch: Dortmund won a thrilling Klassiker in 2018/19
3) Midfield muscle
From vocal muscle to midfield brawn, Dortmund are going to take some beating in their own backyard.
For starters, Bayern are without midfield heartbeat Joshua Kimmich through suspension - and potentially his preferred partner Leon Goretzka. No matter who lines up in the double pivot - likely Konrad Laimer, plus one - it'll be a patchwork job.
Terzić, on the other hand, has some serious options. Salih Özcan and ex-Bayern man Marcel Sabitzer started against Frankfurt, but it's the respective steel and silk of captain Emre Can and fellow Germany international Felix Nmecha that should get the nod on Matchday 10.
In an area of the pitch where football matches are so often won or lost, Dortmund boast a sizeable advantage this weekend.
4) Brandt's burning desire
There was a time when Julian Brandt was part of the central-midfield equation, but there can be little doubt he's found his true calling in the attacking portion of the field.
Brandt's scored or assisted in his last eight Bundesliga appearances in a row, recovering from a calf injury to make a timely impact as a substitute against Frankfurt. With four goals and four provisions in nine games, he's Dortmund's biggest attacking threat so far this Bundesliga season.
Leroy Sané is the only non-striker in the division with a greater combined hand in that time (eight goals, two assists), though the Bayern No.10 plays a fair bit closer to Harry Kane than Brandt does to Dortmund centre-forward Niclas Füllkrug.
Brandt also proved last season that he doesn't need the world's, or Germany's, best striker to burn bright, with nine goals and eight assists across 32 league games. It's the 27-year-old's best return yet for a single Bundesliga campaign, but probably not for much longer.
5) The Füllkrug factor
On the subject of superlatives, Füllkrug moved to Dortmund in the summer as the 2022/23 season's joint-leading Bundesliga goalscorer.
The 30-year-old has since added a further two Bundesliga efforts to his 16 for Werder Bremen last term, whilst producing a couple of assists across seven outings for BVB. He's also underlined his status as Germany's leading man with nine strikes in his first 11 internationals.
Watch: Niclas Füllkrug and Harry Kane compared
Although Bayern head to Dortmund with the joint-stingiest defence in the league (seven goals conceded), they have only kept one clean sheet in four away games. What's more, they conceded twice in draws against title candidates Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig.
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