Bayern Munich's Alphonso Davies vs. Borussia Dortmund's Gio Reyna: A North American Klassiker duel


Canada’s Alphonso Davies eating up the ground to pick the pockets of Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland are among the enduring images of recent meetings between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Can the USA’s Gio Reyna leave his own indelible mark on Der Klassiker this weekend?

Davies won’t be outshone easily. On his full Klassiker debut in Munich last season, he stopped Sancho in his tracks - quite literally. The Englishman - who had orchestrated BVB’s Supercup triumph over the record champions three months earlier - was hooked after 36 minutes, having failed to lay a glove on his rapid-fire tormentor.

In what was a coming-of-age performance from the ex-Vancouver Whitecaps sensation, Bayern ran out comfortable 4-0 winners.

Davies (r.) bossed a battle he was tipped to lose against Jadon Sancho (c) in last season's Klassiker. - Alexander Scheuber/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

The return fixture was a much tighter affair, shaded by a quite brilliant solo goal from Joshua Kimmich. The result effectively decided the title in Bayern’s favour, though they may have been made to wait a touch longer but for Davies’ incendiary powers of recovery. The now 20-year-old defied the laws of physics to deny Haaland when through on goal with the score at 0-0.

Indeed, Davies took the habitual honour of being the fastest player on the pitch at the Signal Iduna Park (21.9mph), whilst making the most sprints (42). As well as attempting (36) and winning (19) the most tackles, he also enjoyed 84 touches of the ball - more than all but three of his teammates. Setting the bar comes quite naturally for a man who could just as easily have become an elite-level track and field athlete.

"Alphonso is a player with a lot of heart and a lot of power, extreme power," said Thomas Müller after the game. "Sometimes maybe he does not have the best position on the field, but he gets the opponent feeling 'I have time, I have time', but then: 'meep meep, meep meep!' The Bayern roadrunner comes ahead and steals the ball."

Watch: Alphonso Davies under the tactical microscope

Davies won more than the ball in the 2020/21 Supercup. He also provided the cross for Bayern’s second goal in a pulsating 3-2 victory. An ankle ligament injury forced him to miss the league win by the same scoreline in November, but he’s barely been out of the side since returning to action prior to the winter break, starting 10 of league leaders Bayern’s last 13 league matches. And with good reason.

Davies clocked a season-high speed of 22.3mph in the Matchday 22 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt; he heads the charts for most sprints per 90 minutes among Bayern players (36) and ranks among the top eight at the club for challenges won. And while his aforementioned Supercup effort remains his only assist in 23 competitive outings this term, the Canada international's lone goal salvaged a hugely important point in the context of the title race in the 3-3 draw with promoted Arminia Bielefeld on Matchday 21.

Head coach Hansi Flick’s overdog tendencies suggest Davies will retain his place at left-back for the visit of Dortmund ahead of 2018 FIFA World Cup winner Lucas Hernandez.

Opposite number Edin Terzic could do worse than field Reyna against a team with the third most porous defence in the top half of the pre-Matchday 24 standings: Bayern have shipped 32 goals in 23 league games.

Reyna is a year behind Davies in his professional development, albeit 24 months his fellow North American’s junior. Although the former New York City FC academy starlet made his Bundesliga debut in January 2020, around about the same time Davies celebrated his one-year anniversary at Bayern, he's doing a fine job of playing catch-up.

Reyna scored his first Bundesliga goal on Matchday 1 of the 2020/21 season. - Lars Baron/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

After making 13 of his 15 Bundesliga appearances during the second half of 2019/20 as a substitute, Reyna has started 16 of 22 league outings in 2020/21, missing out altogether only once through illness. By the time he turned 18 on 13 November 2020 - the day after he made his USMNT debut no less - the England-born playmaker had contributed eight Bundesliga goals (three goals, five assists).

End product is not the only measure of Reyna’s talent, either. He’s among Dortmund’s top six for pass completion (82.6 percent) and third for challenges won (214), and is doing everything in his power to end a run of 11 Bundesliga matches without a goal. No BVB player has been fouled more often this season (38 times).

Watch: Gio Reyna, like father - and mother - like son

Reyna has made it to 50 senior appearances for Dortmund when most players his age are still trying to make in-roads at youth level. He’s featured against Bayern twice - as a 72nd-minute substitute in last season’s 1-0 home defeat, and lasted 69 minutes on Matchday 11 of the current campaign.

Star-spangled predecessor Christian Pulisic scored his only goal in seven meetings with Bayern in the 2017/18 Supercup, but a US strike in a Bundesliga Klassiker remains as slippery as Davies at full pelt.

Hailed by Haaland as "the American Dream", Reyna has proved a veritable nightmare for the likes of RB Leipzig, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Eintracht Frankfurt and Paris Saint-Germain.

A game-changing display against sextuple winners Bayern would represent his most significant notch yet - but if the Dortmund teen is to boldly go where no American has gone before on the Bundesliga stage, he’ll have to get past 'Kid Canada' first.

Chris Mayer-Lodge