There are those within the ranks of Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich who have yet to live and breathe the immensity of the Klassiker, yet as the clock ticks steadily towards one of world football's flagship fixtures, their wait for a taste of this iconic game is almost over.
The exciting summer signings that swelled the already talented squads of two of the Bundesliga's biggest teams have enjoyed a solid bedding-in period with their respective sides. With nine top-flight matchdays played, as well as further tests in Europe and the domestic cup undertaken, Der Klassiker's arrival seems perfectly timed.
bundesliga.com takes a look at the players who look set to grace the biggest of games for the first time this Saturday...
All eyes will be on superstar Kane – as they have been since his summer arrival from Tottenham Hotspur – when he lines up against Dortmund for the very first time in Bayern colours. During his Spurs stay, he found the back of the net on four occasions versus Die Schwarzgelben, and he will be eager to make his mark once more in the cauldron that is the Signal Iduna Park.
Despite the expectations placed on his shoulders, the England captain has lived up to the hype, scoring 14 times in his first 13 games for Die Roten in all competitions, including a stunning hat-trick on the eve of Kane's first meeting with BVB. While Robert Lewandowski left the Allianz Arena more than a year ago, Kane is the heir to the Poland international’s throne, and has already made the number nine shirt his own.
Bayern’s new talisman has turned goalscoring into an art form, but major trophies have evaded him throughout his career. It is clear the opportunity to compete on numerous fronts in Bavaria was a significant reason behind his decision to depart his homeland, as he explained during his unveiling. "It's hard to put a number on how many trophies you want to win but I have always said throughout my whole career I never want to retire and feel like I could have done more or I could have pushed myself a little bit more. Of course, I want to win every competition I play in."
Watch: Kane's hat-trick one week out from Der Klassiker
"That is the ultimate goal every season but when you finish your career, whenever that may be, you just want to make sure you've pushed yourself to your limits and that is what I'll continue to do."
Even after 11 consecutive Bundesliga titles, the competition at the top of the German football means Bayern cannot afford to rest on their laurels. A match-winning performance from the 30-year-old this weekend will only boost his side’s hopes of making it a dozen.
Niclas Füllkrug (Borussia Dortmund)
While Kane has long been amongst the world’s most formidable forwards, Füllkrug’s path to the summit has been less straightforward. By the age of 24, he had appeared just 23 times in the top flight, scoring two goals and, although he enjoyed relative personal success in the second tier, few would have predicted the rise he has since embarked on.
Fourteen Bundesliga strikes for Hannover in 2017/18 showed he could cut it amongst the elite, but it wasn’t until the 2021/22 campaign where he found consistency. By then on the books of Werder Bremen, Füllkrug struck on 19 occasions to earn promotion for Die Werderaner, and the following campaign he netted a further 16, enough to share the Torjägerkanone - the Bundesliga's top scorer's prize - with RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku.
Watch: Niclas Füllkrug and Harry Kane compared
His displays earned him a call-up to the Germany squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and, while Hansi Flick’s men were knocked out in the group stage, the centre-forward scored twice and was one of the players to leave Qatar with their heads held high.
Füllkrug came through the Bremen academy, but once Dortmund came calling, it was too good a move to turn down. He said upon his arrival: “At BVB I have the chance to develop as a player and gain new experiences. I'm really excited about the challenges ahead and I want to be as successful as possible with this team”.
In the Bundesliga, there aren’t any challenges greater than overcoming Bayern, but if Füllkrug’s journey so far is anything to go by, everything is possible.
Mathys Tel (Bayern Munich)
The presence of Kane means first-team minutes are hard to come by for Tel. However, he has made the most of every opportunity and, despite being just 18, has already made himself Thomas Tuchel’s go-to substitute to either give Bayern some extra impetus or help put games to bed.
In just 166 Bundesliga minutes this term, he has struck three times, amassing six goals in just two starts across all competitions. His speed and dribbling ability offer an alternative to Kane's playmaking profile, but has proven to be equally adept at beating opposing goalkeepers.
There has been a steady flow of praise directed towards the teenager – both Kane and Tuchel have made their admiration known – although not only his offensive ability has impressed his peers. Teammate and compatriot, Kingsley Coman, said: “Beyond the goals, the dynamic he has when he comes in, his mentality to work every day without ever complaining, to do everything for the team, it’s something that I admire and appreciate. We don’t often see that in young players. If he continues this way, I think he will reach the top.”
An injury kept Tel out of Bayern’s 4-2 victory over Dortmund in April last season, a triumph that went a long way to securing another Meisterschale. This time around, though, he is almost certain to be involved, and you wouldn’t bet against him having a telling impact.
Min-jae Kim (Bayern Munich)
Victor Osimhen may have hogged the headlines as Napoli won Serie A last term, but their defensive record was just as crucial. No side conceded fewer than their 28 goals in the Italian top flight, and Kim was a key component of the back four, featuring in all but three games.
With Bayern looking to boost their backline during the summer transfer window following Lucas Hernández’s switch to Paris Saint-Germain, the South Korea international was the standout choice. And, much like Kane, it hasn’t taken him long to settle into life in Bavaria. He has started all nine Bundesliga fixtures thus far, limiting opponents to just seven goals, and has formed a good understanding with both Dayot Upamecano and Matthijs de Ligt whenever they have partnered him at centre-back.
Watch: Min-jae Kim joins Bayern
Tuchel was immediately enamoured with his new arrival. As early as August, he gushed: “I love him, he is so calm, so straightforward — his expression, his awareness, his game. A pass is a pass. A pass is not fancy, it is a pass with his inside foot.”
Another start against Dortmund is all but a given, meaning Füllkrug and Co. will have to be at their very best to get the better of the 26-year-old.
Ramy Bensebaini (Borussia Dortmund)
Raphaël Guerreiro, who recently crossed the Klassiker divide when he became one of Bayern’s new recruits, will be not be available for the Rekordmeister, but his Dortmund replacement Bensebaini will be. The attacking full-back had long seemed set for a big transfer after shining on the left flank for Borussia Mönchengladbach and, while he continues to find his feet in the Ruhr, he has had a positive impact.
Besides a red card in the 3-1 victory over Hoffenheim, the Algerian has been close to flawless defensively. Admittedly, he is yet to show the full extent of his extensive ability, but with Dortmund unbeaten and picking up points, he has not yet needed to contribute too much in the final third. When that time does come, you can expect him to be ready and waiting.
When asked why he joined Dortmund, his response was emphatic: “That’s an easy one: because Dortmund are one of the biggest clubs in Germany and across the world. I had long conversations with sporting director Sebastian Kehl. He really sold the project well”.
It is that kind of confidence and conviction that made his acquisition a priority. Against Bayern, he has the chance to prove himself once more. He already has four goals in six competitive meetings with Bayern, as a Gladbach player.
Konrad Laimer (Bayern Munich)
Bayern got a taste of Laimer's influence when Leipzig almost derailed their title challenge at the Allianz Arena in May. The Austrian produced a fantastic showing to help Die Roten Bullen prevail 3-1, even getting himself on the scoresheet courtesy of a well-taken effort following a lightning-quick counter. Goals are not a major part of his game, but this is a player who has many strings to his bow.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” he said when his transfer, one of the worst-kept secrets in the Bundesliga, was finally confirmed in June. “FC Bayern is one of the biggest clubs in the world. I will give everything for the club and the fans. FC Bayern always has the highest goals — just like me. I’m in the right place here. I’m only capable of giving 100 per cent, and that’s what I’ll put into every training session from day one. I can hardly wait.”
Watch: A closer look at Bayern's summer signings
An understated signing statement, perhaps, but don’t be fooled – Laimer’s tenacity and perseverance means he is not to be taken lightly, as Dortmund are likely to find out once more on Saturday.
Felix Nmecha (Borussia Dortmund)
Signed to replace the instrumental Jude Bellingham, Nmecha is beginning to find his feet at Dortmund, with two Bundesliga assists and a UEFA Champions League winner against Newcastle United.
A standout talent in Manchester City’s youth teams, the 23-year-old made the bold decision to leave Pep Guardiola and the Etihad Stadium behind by moving to Wolfsburg in 2021, where he was joined by brother Lukas. After a bit-part involvement during 2021/22, he became a first-team regular the following term, scoring three goals and creating a further five.
A Germany call-up soon followed, as did Dortmund’s interest, and his performance against Bremen during Matchday 8 earned him special praise from Kehl, who said: “I would have liked to see Felix Nmecha score a goal. He came very close, had good moments in transition and also helped out at the back. He has shown really good development. Now you can understand why we absolutely wanted to sign this player.”
Nmecha had featured in all of his new club's league up until a muscular injury ruled him out of the draw with Eintracht Frankfurt on week nine and is a slight doubt to feature. If he can revoer in time for the meeting with Bayern, there would be no better way to fully announce himself to the Dortmund support than with a first goal for the club against their perennial title rivals.
Frans Krätzig (Bayern Munich)
Tel isn’t the only youngster for whom Bayern have high hopes. Krätzig’s 25-minute came in the 7-0 hammering of Bochum was well-received by Tuchel. “He did very well, I didn’t expect anything else because he also shows the things in training. I’m happy for him," the boss said after the full-time whistle.
It was just the latest positive moment it was has been a quick rise to the first-team squad. A strong pre-season, which included a goal - and a stunning one at that - against European powerhouse Liverpool, convinced those in charge that he had what it takes, and his strike in the first round of the DFB Cup against Preußen Münster showed he could perform in a competitive setting, too.
Considering the strength in depth ahead of him in the pecking order, Krätzig is unlikely to play a role against Dortmund but he earned a third substitute appearance in the Bundesliga this term with a 24-minute cameo in the win over Darmstadt last weekend. If he does feature, and impress, it wouldn’t be the first time we have seen a youngster make an impact on the biggest stage, and Tuchel’s comments suggest he will not hesitate to call upon the 20-year-old if needed.
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