Der Klassiker between Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Munich is likely to be decided by Niclas Füllkrug (l.) or Harry Kane (r.). - © DFL
Der Klassiker between Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Munich is likely to be decided by Niclas Füllkrug (l.) or Harry Kane (r.). - © DFL

Niclas Füllkrug vs. Harry Kane: how do Borussia Dortmund's and Bayern Munich's strikers compare?


Niclas Füllkrug and Harry Kane will be at the point of the respective attacks when Borussia Dortmund take on Bayern Munich in Der Klassiker. How do the two sharpshooters compare?

Dortmund and Bayern both boast a new No.9 heading into the first Klassiker of the season - even if the Füllkrug wears the No.14, with Sébastien Haller already in possession of the traditional striker's number when he arrived from Werder Bremen.

Füllkrug joined Dortmund three games into the season, having shared last year's Torjägerkanone with RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku, now of Chelsea. Also now Germany's first choice in attack, excitement around his arrival was understandably high. 

While Nkunku left for the Premier League earlier in the summer, Kane arrived from it, as Tottenham Hotspur and England's record goalscorer, and he has, perhaps unsurprisingly, lit up the Bundesliga so far.

Tourist routes to the top

Füllkrug only made his Germany debut at 29, but is now their first-choice striker. - AFP via Getty Images

Kane may now be the more established of the two, but both players had to cut their teeth down the divisions before going on to star for club and country.

Füllkrug has only been a Germany international since last year, but to say his relatively late call-up has worked out would be a gross understatement, with the former Bremen man now up to nine goals in 11 games for his country.

Two years ago he was in Bundesliga 2 with Werder - even if he did hit 19 goals in their promotion campaign - while Kane was well on the way to surpassing Jimmy Greave's all-time record at Tottenham.

But it wasn't always clear that Kane would be a top-flight player, either. Released by Arsenal as a youngster, he later had loan spells at Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich City and Leicester City before finally being given his chance in North London.

"It helped me a lot," Kane later told Rio Ferdinand on his YouTube channel FIVE of his time out on loan from Spurs. "Just playing men's football - it was an experience…" 

Now at the peak

Kane (r.) has made a quick impression at Bayern, on Leroy Sané (No.10) in particular. - AFP via Getty Images

Both Füllkrug and Kane are now 30, and long since proving that they are supreme goalscorers.

Adding to his 16 in the Bundesliga last season - and the five assists that gave him 21 goal-involvements - Füllkrug has now taken just 451 minutes of Bundesliga football for Dortmund to score two and lay on two more, with Haller now relegated to the bench.

Watch: All Füllkrug's Bundesliga goals in 2022/23

"Niclas is a playmaking attacker, very strong with his head, physically impressive, convincing in one-on-one duels and unpleasant for his opponents," BVB sporting director Sebastian Kehl said of his club's new signing, and so it has proved.

If Füllkrug has hit the ground running, Kane has broken the land speed record since signing for Bayern. The Englishman has 12 goals and five assists in the Bundesliga so far, from just nine games. He also has two in each column from three UEFA Champions League outings.

"I've played against him many times when I was at Manchester City," Leroy Sané, who has enjoyed five Kane assists in all competitions this season, reflected recently. "…there's no doubt that Harry has been one of the best strikers in the world in the past decade and in a league full of other world-class strikers."

A tactical difference?

Watch: Harry Kane - Dream Goal & Next Milestone

That both are at the top of their game is beyond question, but how they perform now they are there is also broadly similar.

Both Füllkrug and Kane are around the 6'2" mark, although the former uses his frame to win more aerial duels than the latter, averaging more than five per 90 minutes over the last year compared to the latter's two - but that is also testament to the fact he drops deep less often than Kane. 

Kane's progressive passes and expected assists are among the highest in Europe over the last year - a large part of the reason for Sané's recent goal glut - but Füllkrug is still more than capable of flicking ball around the corner of the last defender, something Donyell Malen gladly capitalised on as BVB beat Freiburg 4-2 on Matchday 4.

Matchday 10 will pit Dortmund against Bayern, Füllkrug against Kane and Germany's No.9 against England's. Who will win Der Klassiker will likely rest on which striker has the better game. Both have hit heights few would have predicted, but it would now take a brave observer to bet against either.

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