There are few more exhilarating sights in world football than that of the red shirts of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund's famous black-and-yellow kits mixing it up inside a packed, passion-filled arena: Der Klassiker vibes are here again and the stakes couldn't be higher.
The Bundesliga behemoths have battled it out in a Champions League showpiece and DFB Cup finals but never before have two of the game's elite teams tussled on a day when the top-flight title is up for grabs, as Bayern and BVB will do at a sold-out Allianz Arena on Saturday. Added to the fact that both teams have hit top form ahead of this Matchday 31 spectacular, means we're all set for on-field fireworks in the sides' latest bout in a rivalry that has been nothing short of show-stopping these past decades.
The tale of the tape is simple: a Bayern win would bring an unprecedented 10th consecutive Bundesliga title to Munich, at home, and against none other than the team with whom they have formed a crunching rivalry that has gained the Der Klassiker moniker. For Dortmund, the immense challenge will be to deprive Julian Nagelsmann's league leaders from getting their hands on the Meisterschale, at least for one more week.
There may currently be nine points between the sides in the standings, but the sense of unpredictability in terms of the outcome of the game is huge, adding to the intrigue for all who will witness this Saturday's spectacular (kick-off: 17:30 CET).
Watch: A recent history of Der Klassiker
"We definitely want to win the title against Dortmund at home; this is a special game for us and for the whole Bundesliga," Bayern's Joshua Kimmich explained ahead of this weekend's game, Bayern's No. 6 adding, "to get the championship trophy, that's clearly the ultimate goal." Dortmund's Emre Can was equally determined, saying, "If we want to be successful there, we have to be courageous, step on the gas right from the start and play like we did against Wolfsburg in the first half."
Die Schwarzgelben's overwhelming 6-1 win against the Wolves last weekend came just at the right time for Marco Rose's men, the result and performance instilling huge belief and confidence into a team that hasn't always hit the heights expected of them this season. Of added importance in last Saturday's triumph was the return to the scoresheet of Erling Haaland, whose striking battle with Bayern's goal king Robert Lewandowski will be one of the many fascinating facets of Der Klassiker.
Watch: BVB warm up for Klassiker with Wolfsburg win
Haaland's Wolfsburg double ended a drought of five games, or 421 minutes, without scoring and brought his Bundesliga tally up to 58 goals in 63 Bundesliga games, making him faster than any other player to reach that total. The Norwegian now has his sights set on becoming the first player since Ulf Kirsten to score in four consecutive games against the title favourites. Yet it won't be just Haaland who needs to be on fire at the Allianz Arena should BVB wish to spoil the hosts' party. As coach Marco Rose put it, an "excellent team performance," just like that against Wolfsburg, when BVB scored five goals inside 14 first-half minutes, will clearly be needed by the visitors on Saturday.
For their part, Bayern's goal this weekend couldn't be clearer: to gain the three points that would help them to the championship in a game against Dortmund for the first time ever. "You don't always have that chance," Bayern's coach Nagelsmann said following his team's 3-0 win against Arminia Bielefeld last weekend.
Watch: Bayern hit three against Bielefeld last weekend
"We will have to play a bit better against Dortmund [than we did against Bielefeld]," the tactician added. [Sunday's] was a deserved win and important that we now have the chance to seal the title against Dortmund. That's a rare coincidence."
Despite the Klassiker opponents having an identical record in the second-half of the season - 29 points, nine wins, two draws and two defeats - recent history between the sides marks Bayern out as favourites to lift their 10th league title in a row. Bayern have won nine of the last 10 Bundesliga games against BVB, including the last six.
"You don't have that situation often enough, to win the championship against your direct rivals in a home game," Thomas Müller said. Müller will become the only player to win the Bundesliga 11 times should his team prevail on Saturday, but it is the home fans that the 32-year-old would be more happy for if his side do the business. "We can still create something historic, so we're really excited about it; we want to offer [that] to the supporters," he said.
If Saturday may bring an 11th Meisterschale for Müller, it would be a tenth for Lewandowski - more than any other non-German player has managed. The Polish marksman famously lifted two Bundesliga titles with Dortmund in 2011 and 2012 but has scored 13 times in his last seven league meetings against his former side and will be keen to add to his championship leading 32 goals so far this term when the teams meet again. Indeed, should any Bayern player find the net in Der Klassiker, it would extend the Bavarians' record of scoring in consecutive Bundesliga games to 78 matches.
"That would be the script," Müller added of the stars possibly aligning at the Allianz Arena. "It could be another great experience for us as a team, together with the fans. In the end it's all about the great moments, about teasing out emotions in us and arousing emotions in them spectators," the Space Invader continued.
But Bayern will know not to take Dortmund for granted, especially in a one-off Klassiker and with the Black-and-Yellows not out of the title race themselves. So get set for an occasion that is certain to be filled with drama, tension and high-octane Bundesliga entertainment. And what's more, you can follow all of the colour of the Klassiker with our big-match build-up right through to the final whistle and beyond here on bundesliga.com and across our social media channels.
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