The 2019/20 curtain-raising Supercup sees defending Bundesliga and DFB Cup champions Bayern Munich face 2018/19 league runners-up Borussia Dortmund, but where will the battle be won and lost at the Signal Iduna Park on 3 August?
bundesliga.com takes a closer look at the men who could decide the first Klassiker of the season…
While Dortmund spread their Bundesliga goals around last term – Paco Alcacer bagged 18, Marco Reus 17 and Jadon Sancho 12 – Bayern’s flowed through the usual channel of Lewandowski.
The Poland international became a four-time winner of the Torjägerkanone and replaced Claudio Pizarro as the highest-scoring non-German player in Bundesliga history – he boasts 202 goals and counting – and has been the scourge of his former club, with an incredible 16 goals in 17 appearances against them since his move to Munich from Dortmund back in 2014. Last year was no different, the 30-year-old scoring a brace in each of the league meetings with his previous employers.
Watch: All 22 of Lewandowski's goals last season!
Bundesliga defenders up and down the country have been scratching their heads, pondering how to stop Lewandowski ever since he arrived on German soil in 2010 and if there’s one player who could have the answer, it’s Hummels. After all, the centre-half has the inside track on a man he called his teammate for four years at Dortmund and a further three years at Bayern, picking up multiple Bundesliga (five), DFB Cup (two) and Supercup (four) trophies in the process.
Hummels returned to Dortmund this summer and the Supercup will mark the first time the two have taken to the pitch as club opponents since Hummels captained Dortmund in the 2016 DFB Cup final penalty shoot-out defeat to Bayern. It was the 70-time Germany international’s last appearance for the club before joining their conquerors on the day. Insider’s knowledge works both ways, however, and Lewandowski has scored five goals in six appearances for Bayern against Hummels in Black and Yellow.
Watch: Every Klassiker Supercup goal since 2010
Looking at Dortmund’s forward options, it’s hard to venture beyond Jadon Sancho as BVB’s most direct attacking threat. The English teenager had a breakout 2018/19, built on a fearless willingness to run at defenders all season long, an approach that reaped him rich rewards. Those included a league-leading 14 assists to go with 12 goals across 34 Bundesliga appearances, as well as firmly establishing his place in the England senior squad: all while turning just 19.
One of the London-born winger’s many gifts is his self-belief to continue attempting dribbles, even when the first two or three individual battles in a match may not go his way, and that persistence makes his joust with Bayern's Alaba a truly thrilling prospect. The Austrian has been one of world football’s best left-backs for a number of years, but of more importance than his reputation are his physical attributes and his likeness to the man he’ll be up against.
This contest is pace versus pace, a clash between a rapid forward who loves nothing more than taking on his man and a defender that loves to attack. Can one push the other back and limit his influence on proceedings? The ebb and flow between these two on their side of the pitch and the results it produces will be critical to either side’s success.
Watch: Jadon Sancho's Bundesliga Mixtape!
Pick out the single most significant player on a team’s success last season and you’d struggle to find one more fitting that the man wearing the armband for Dortmund. Quite simply, Reus is Borussia Dortmund.
A local lad-turned-club-captain who has been to hell and back with countless career-threatening injuries, his presence in Lucien Favre’s side last year made his teammates raise their performance levels by an extra ten per cent. He is the brains behind most of Dortmund’s attacking play, he leads from the front, and his tally of 17 goals last year was his second-most productive Bundesliga return, behind only his 18 strikes with Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2011/12.
Stop Reus, it seems, and you can go a long way to stopping Dortmund. Javi Martinez's battering-ram qualities would ordinarily make him a guaranteed starter here, but the Spaniard has been ruled out through injury. Leon Goretzka is an option to play alongside Thiago in midfield, but he is more attack-minded than Tolisso and is likely to play further up the pitch.
Tolisso was restricted to just two Bundesliga appearances last term due to a long-term injury, but has regained full fitness and has featured heavily in pre-season friendlies. Tactically disciplined, with excellent positioning and never one to shy away from a tackle, the 2018 FIFA World Cup winner could hold the keys to keeping Reus, and Dortmund, at bay.
Watch: How Reus dominated the last Klassiker played in Dortmund!
Serge Gnabry would likely have started for Bayern in a wide attacking position on the right, but muscular complaints mean he has stayed in Munich. Kingsley Coman is a doubt and prefers the left flank anyway, so Müller is odds on to begin, moving out wide from a more central position behind Lewandowski.
Müller is not blessed with terrifying pace, nor is he known as a dribbler, but if you think Schulz will therefore be in for an easy ride, think again. The 29-year-old's clever, elusive movement is arguably his greatest asset, helping him produce nine assists and six goals in the Bundesliga last term. His crosses from the right can also be lethal - it was from the wing that he set up Alphonso Davies to equalise against Tottenham Hotspur recently.
That will provide a stern first test in Dortmund colours for summer signing Schulz, who is more accustomed to dealing with nimble-footed, tricky wingers.
He has played against Müller and Bayern eight times for Hertha Berlin, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Hoffenheim, losing seven and winning just one. The left-back likes to get forward himself, though, so his pace could make attack the best form of defence.
These two will know each other well having played for Germany together a few times and on Saturday we will likely witness the pair go head-to-head across the full 90 minutes in what promises to be a ding-dong battle. And whoever can make the other do the majority of running back towards their own goal will likely have a major say on bringing about a positive outcome in their favour.
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