Julian Brandt, Erling Haaland, Jude Bellingham and Marco Reus (l.-r.) are the men who can make the difference for Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich in Der Klassiker. - © /
Julian Brandt, Erling Haaland, Jude Bellingham and Marco Reus (l.-r.) are the men who can make the difference for Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich in Der Klassiker. - © /
bundesliga

Der Klassiker: Borussia Dortmund's key protagonists

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Thanks to a 6-1 win over Wolfsburg, Borussia Dortmund head into the latest Klassiker with a spring in their step, and several players in top form – just at the right time to beat Bayern Munich.

bundesliga.com outlines which Dortmund players are positively skipping into Der Klassiker, and ready to make the difference for the Black & Yellows.

Marco Reus

Bayern would be wise to identify in Reus one of Dortmund's greatest threats. He is, after all, the most prolific goalscorer still playing in the Bundesliga behind Robert Lewandowski, with 144 goals in 336 games, including nine this season – one more than his haul for the whole of last term. Yet as impressive as his goalscoring record is, ranking him 17th in the all-time Bundesliga scoring charts, Reus is equally effective at setting up goals for his teammates, with 10 assists so far in 2021/22.

In his past seven outings, Reus has had a direct hand in 11 goals (five scored, six assisted), while on Matchday 23, he had a hand in Dortmund's first five goals in a 6-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach. He is a player who requires particular attention right from the get-go, with 58 of his Bundesliga goals putting Dortmund 1-0 up. Yet getting that attention right is never easy against such a talented individual who has the ability to create something out of nothing; Reus boasts a sharp eye for goal or for a better-placed teammate, which have made him one of Dortmund's most effective outlets for the past 10 years.

Jude Bellingham

Only Bellingham has made more appearances for Dortmund this season than Reus, underlining how highly he is rated by Marco Rose. His statistics back up his coach's belief in and reliance on him too, with the box-to-box midfielder emerging as a true leader of this team; his mere presence has a positive influence on his teammates, while the Englishman leaves everything he's got on the field, endearing himself to the club's fans. His 736 challenges are a team high, and he has won half of them, while he likes nothing more than getting his head down and running at his opponents, making a team-leading 58 dribbles and succeeding with two thirds of them – no wonder the fans love him.

Watch: Bellingham, Haaland and Co. - Dortmund back on track in 2022

The same cannot be said for opposition players, though, with the England international proving to be a true thorn in their side. He has set up seven goals already this season and scored three himself, even if scoring is not a necessary part of his modus operandi. This is already more than double his return of goals and assists compared to his first season in the Bundesliga, and by following that trajectory, an already important individual for Dortmund – evidenced also by the fact he is their most fouled player, unfairly stopped 78 times – looks set to cement his reputation as BVB's beating heart.

Erling Haaland

After ending a 422-minute long drought – an eternity for a player of such standing – in Dortmund's 6-1 win over Wolfsburg, Bayern had better be on alert: Haaland's floodgates have just opened again. It is perhaps partly Haaland's fault that he has been judged on his goals – he has, after all, boasted near goal-per-game statistics since arriving in Westphalia. Yet what he showed against Wolfsburg was how he can influence his team's success even without getting his own name on the scoresheet, though he was naturally relieved to do that again also. His movement and link-up play with Reus and Julian Brandt appears to have evolved, with more of an emphasis placed on interactivity on and off the ball. Against Wolfsburg, Haaland was more than just a classic, predatory No9, and he has two assists in his past two outings.

Scoring goals will nevertheless remain the Norwegian's superordinate task and with 18 in 20 games this season, at a rate at one every 87 minutes, he can be expected to find the back of the net also at the Allianz Arena. In fact, he has scored four in four previous games against Bayern with the only element of those statistics he would like to improve on being the fact that he still ended up on the losing team each time. It took him just nine minutes to score in Munich last season and, with his brace against the Wolves to build on, he can be expected to be immediately on the prowl in this latest Klassiker.

Julian Brandt

Another vital member of Dortmund's exciting attacking football is Brandt, who may leave most of the headline-hoarding to the likes of Reus and Haaland, but goes about his own job in an accomplished manner. The 25-year-old has eight assists this season – just two fewer than Reus – and he has looked particularly sharp in recent weeks, from the moment he leapt from the bench as a sixth-minute substitute for the injured Gio Reyna against Stuttgart and steered in two goals, to his two assists against Wolfsburg. His season has been characterised by such spurts, with three goals and as many assists coming between Matchdays 13 and 17, including the goal which put Dortmund 1-0 up in the reverse Klassiker in Dortmund.

Julian Brandt has quietly gone about being one of Borussia Dortmund’s best players this season- - IMAGO/Frank Hoermann / SVEN SIMON/IMAGO/Sven Simon

"I think Jule's having a really decent season," said Rose to the Ruhr Nachrichten. "He's the kind of player who can ignite a stadium with a backheel flick." Credit here must also go to Rose for ironing out some of the inconsistencies that had blotted Brandt's career to date. "He's come through that period in which he'd lost his mojo," added Rose, who is reaping the rewards. Brandt's deft touches have been multiplying and his ability to spot and execute the kind of passes few others could even imagine looks to have been refined - just in time to steal the headlines for once in Der Klassiker.