Always a fixture to savour, the first Klassiker of the season is just days away. Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho and Co. will take on Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on Saturday in a game that so often has a big say on who lifts the Bundesliga title come Matchday 34.
bundesliga.com looks at five reasons why Dortmund can defeat their rivals from Bavaria.
1) Heroic Hummels
Dortmund wasted no time in strengthening their squad in the summer as Lucien Favre immediately sought to build on narrowly missing out on the Bundesliga title last season. Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt and Nico Schulz were superb investments but bringing Mats Hummels back to the club after three seasons helping Bayern run rampant was possibly Dortmund's best bit of business.
Just ask Robert Lewandowski, who spoke of his "regret" over Hummels' Dortmund return. Having played with him for a combined seven seasons on both sides of the Klassiker divide, Lewandowski knows as well as anyone how much the six-time Bundesliga winner would be missed in Munich. Bayern's loss is Dortmund's gain, though, and Hummels has been in inspired form since returning to the Signal Iduna Park.
His Klassiker record is actually better at Dortmund, where he enjoys a win percentage of 66.7 per cent, compared to 35.7 per cent in red. And while Lewandowski has three Bundesliga wins and a draw as well as four goals against Hummels' Dortmund, if anyone has the inside track on how to stop the Bundesliga's record foreign goalscorer, it's the 70-cap German.
2) Supercup lessons
Hummels' arrival helped Favre lay down an instant marker ahead of the new campaign in the form of DFL Supercup glory over Bayern. The traditional curtain-raiser for the new season saw Dortmund triumph 2-0 back in August, putting their rivals on notice as BVB go in search of a sixth Bundesliga title and attempt to end Bayern's run of seven in a row.
The foundation of that victory was a stellar defensive performance that ended a run of eight matches without a clean sheet against Bayern dating back to November 2016. Favre will hope his side can once again shut out the reigning champions as he sets about ending a sequence of five successive league defeats at the Allianz Arena for Dortmund. That run has seen Bayern emerge victorious courtesy of a dispiriting sequence of results: 5-0, 6-0, 4-1, 5-1 and 2-1.
Watch: Dortmund seal 2019 DFB Supercup glory over Bayern
There was also immense encouragement for Jadon Sancho in the Supercup, with the England international setting up the opener for Paco Alcacer before adding the second himself. Both goals were the result of the 19-year-old coming out on top in his battle with David Alaba. Sancho attacked the Austrian left-back with pace and trickery for the opener, and he then caught the Bayern man out of position with a devastating solo effort from a clinical Dortmund counter to kill the game off.
3) The Alcacer factor
Speaking of Alcacer, the Spaniard has an immensely important role to play this weekend. The 26-year-old is back to full fitness, having missed five matches before making the bench as an unused substitute in the DFB Cup win over Borussia Mönchengladbach. Without Alcacer in the side Dortmund have found goals hard to come by, so the former Barcelona man's return will add much-needed firepower for Favre's front line.
Alcacer, who hit 18 goals in his first season at Dortmund, started the 2019/20 campaign with a bang. He notched 10 goals in 11 appearances for club and country prior to picking up the calf injury that sidelined him for a month.
His record against Bayern, meanwhile, may have a small sample size but it is a highly impressive one. In his first Klassiker back in November 2018, the Spaniard endeared himself to the Yellow Wall with a 73rd minute winner – just 14 minutes after coming off the bench – as Dortmund came from behind to beat Bayern 3-2 at home.
He missed April's 5-0 loss through injury before taking on Bayern for a second time in the Supercup, again played out on home soil. His goal just after half time turned the game on its head and put Dortmund into a lead that they would only build on. It seems he is a man that relishes the big occasions, and there are few bigger than this.
Watch: Dortmund's 10 best Klassiker goals
4) Captain fantastic
"It's always been my dream to win the league with this club, to stand on a truck on Borsigplatz and celebrate with 500,000 people. League champions in your home city, what could be better?"
Reus came so close to making that dream a reality last year and few people around the club or in the city will have felt the heartache more than their hometown captain. The 30-year-old led from the front, his 17 goals and 11 assists the best return of his seven years at Dortmund and the second-best of his entire career. He has picked up where he left off, too, hitting five goals in 2019/20 so far.
Reus, who says he "belongs" at Dortmund, relishes Klassikers. He scored the last time Dortmund won a league game in Munich back in April 2014, as well as in their most recent cup win over Bayern in the 2017 DFB Cup semi-final. Reus got the opening goal in a 3-2 win in Munich before his team went on to beat Eintracht Frankfurt in the final.
In total, Reus has contributed 10 goals and six assists against Bayern, and he clearly enjoys playing against Germany teammate Manuel Neuer. Reus has beaten Neuer six times in the German top flight, more than any other player in Bundesliga history and level with Stefan Kießling for the most strikes beyond one of the best keepers of his generation.
5) A happy hunting ground
While Dortmund's recent trips to Bayern have been miserable ones, historically it is a journey they have enjoyed. After all, Dortmund inflicted Bayern's first-ever Bundesliga home defeat with a 2-0 victory at the Grünwalder Stadion way back in 1965. Their nine wins on their travels to the record league winners cannot be bettered by any other side in history and is only matched by Cologne.
Watch: A recent history of Der Klassiker
Despite their recent maulings at the Allianz Arena, Dortmund, along with Borussia Mönchengladbach, are the only two teams to record three Bundesliga wins at the Allianz since the Bavarians' new home opened in 2005.
Their last two successes in Munich have come in the guise of DFB Cup semi-finals – in 2017 and 2015 – which begs the question as to whether Dortmund need to approach these matches like a knockout round. Like the business end of cup competitions, they go into these games knowing they will be met by a raucous atmosphere – tempers flaring and passion high – where victory can have a significant impact on the remainder of their campaign.
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