Donyell Malen, Mats Hummels, Jude Bellingham and Marco Reus of Borussia Dortmund as well as Robert Lewandowski, Jamal Musiala, Serge Gnabry and Thomas Müller of Bayern Munich are just some of the stars on on show in Der Klassiker. - © DFL
Donyell Malen, Mats Hummels, Jude Bellingham and Marco Reus of Borussia Dortmund as well as Robert Lewandowski, Jamal Musiala, Serge Gnabry and Thomas Müller of Bayern Munich are just some of the stars on on show in Der Klassiker. - © DFL

How do Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund compare?


Both have unstoppable strikers, unplayable providers and midfield warriors, but who has the edge as Bayern Munich take on Borussia Dortmund in the next installment of Der Klassiker this Saturday? takes a closer look…

The star men: Erling Haaland vs. Robert Lewandowski

At the age of 33, Lewandowski is continuing to grab the headlines with not just the quantity but the quality of his goals. The man who once scored five times in nine minutes during a Bundesliga game got a single-season record of 41 in the 2020/21 campaign.

This term the reigning world player of the year and European Golden Shoe winner has picked up where he left off, netting nine times in five UEFA Champions League matches including a hat-trick on his 100th appearance in the competition. His latest strike in Europe - an outrageous overhead kick in a 2-1 win over Dynamo Kyiv - shows that he is almost impossible to stop.

Lewandowski, of course, was once a Dortmund favourite. He got five of his 103 goals for the club against Bayern, including a crucial effort during the 2011/12 title race and a treble in the DFB Cup final that same season.

Watch: Lewandowski's 41 goals in 2020/21

Unfortunately for the home side, the Poland captain has been devastating in Klassiker fixtures since switching sides in July 2014. The veteran - who has examined all aspects of his life to develop an edge - has 24 goals in as many matches against Dortmund.

He's been on the winning team in 17 of those encounters, including when he struck twice in the DFL Supercup in August.

"I believe that Lewy can achieve a lot - also at an older age - because of his physique, lifestyle, and the way he lives as a footballer," Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann said recently.

"He will continue to be the best forward in the world because he does everything to keep it that way."

A pretender to that particular crown is Dortmund striker Haaland. BVB's title challenge was tested by an injury to their Norwegian talisman and - while they kept in touch with Bayern without him - there is no doubting he makes them a better team.

Watch: How do Lewandowski and Haaland score so often? 

As if any further proof were needed, he returned from his injury lay-off to secure all three points in the Matchday 13 win over Wolfsburg. The former Salzburg striker needed only eight minutes to make his mark off the bench, and in so doing became the youngset and quickest player to reach 50 Bundesliga goals. 

Like Lewandowski, Haaland is on an 11-man shortlist for The Best FIFA Men's Player award for 2021. It's easy to see why. The 21-year-old got an incredible 27 league goals in his first full season in German football, and had nine goals in six Bundesliga matches in 2021/22 before his recent injury.

Described previously as "a rocket", "a machine" and "unique", Haaland has the ability to be Dortmund's difference maker in the Klassiker. He has four goals in five games against Bayern so far, but has been beaten every time. That's sure to needle away at him and - despite coming up against the best goalkeeper in the world in Manuel Neuer - it's probably only a matter of time before that record improves.

The wily attackers: Marco Reus vs. Thomas Müller

Reus has been Dortmund captain since the 2018/19 season, and his first Klassiker as skipper was one to remember. On a thrilling November night in 2018, he produced two great finishes - including one from the penalty spot - as his side came from behind to win 3-2 at home.

Dortmund are once again shaping up to be involved in another title race with Bayern, and - along with Mats Hummels - Reus is a senior figure that many in the squad can turn to for guidance. He has, after all, faced the defending champions 31 times in his career.

Watch: Reus under the tactical microscope

"He's our captain and he plays and acts like one," Dortmund coach Marco Rose said in October 2021. "I can rely on him 100 per cent… he is an outstanding footballer who puts the team first and is in good shape. That's the most important thing for me - he's in really good from."

On Matchday 1 of the 2021/22 season, Reus netted in a 5-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt to become the fifth player in history to hit 100 Bundesliga goals for the club. In his side's last home game, meanwhile, the Germany attacker was on hand to tap in a crucial winning goal against VfB Stuttgart with only five minutes left. It was his fourth strike in the league to go with as many assists again.

Reus had played a devastating part in that counter attack before providing the finishing touch, too, something he has done so often in almost a decade in black and yellow. Possessing a priceless ability to dart through spaces or play the ball into them for a teammate, he is proving as important as ever to his local club.

"I am 32 years old, but I still feel at the height of my powers," Reus, who won a penalty at Wolfsburg, told espnfc earlier this season.

Watch: Müller is Mr Bayern

That statement could easily have been uttered by Bayern legend Müller. The one-club man has now made over 600 appearances for the six-time European champions, and he too is showing no signs of slowing down.

"Thomas is like having a player-assistant coach," Nagelsmann said in September 2021. "He understands everything."

The undisputed assist king in the Bundesliga, Müller set the single-season record with 21 in 2019/20 and has finished top of that ranking in each of the last two campaigns. Not surprisingly, he leads the way again this year, having laid on 10 goals so far in the league.

Another player famed for finding space in the opposition defence, Müller has a habit of coming up with big performances in big games. He has won 22 of the 38 matches he's played against Dortmund, for example, scoring 12 goals and making seven more against BVB over the course of his career.

This season the Germany attacker has already netted against Dortmund in Dortmund, scoring in Bayern's 3-1 DFL Supercup success.

Watch: Bayern won 3-2 at Dortmund in 2020/21

Midfield marvels: Jude Bellingham v Leon Goretzka

Two in-form midfielders will come face-to-face when the top two meet, with Dortmund's English teenager already every bit as influential as his counterpart has been for Bayern. Recently praised by both Hummels and England teammate Jordan Henderson for his maturity and talent, Bellingham has been a huge figure for Dortmund throughout 2021/22.

He got an important Champions League goal against Besiktas in Turkey before clinching the Bundesliga Goal of the Month prize for October after his incredible solo effort in the 3-1 win over Arminia Bielefeld. He currently has two goals and three assists in the league.

The 18-year-old is up for the physical battle too, with his willingness to mix it with the strongest of midfield enforcers being one of the most striking parts of his game. The former Birmingham City youngster is one of the top three players for duels won and intensive runs across the league, lies in the top 10 for sprints and is in the top 15 for distance covered per game.

"Jude's an outstanding lad," Rose said after the Bielefeld game. "He's in a great frame of mind and gives us so much. He never stops running and just plays so well."

Watch: Jude Bellingham is maturing quickly 

Goretzka, meanwhile, provides plenty of punch in the Bayern engine room. Like Bellingham, he broke through as a teenager and made the game look easy. Powering from box-to-box with comfort has been a trademark of his game, with the former Schalke player chipping in with plenty of key challenges and key goals already this season.

"That was a top game - they are there to be won," the 26-year-old declared after his second league goal of the campaign helped see off early-season high flyers Freiburg on Matchday 11.

It was no surprise that Bayern were so keen to tie the Germany international down to a new long-term contract, which he duly signed in September 2021.

"He has great technique and dynamism and is a particularly dangerous midfielder who can decide games," said Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic after securing Goretzka's signature.

Defensive stalwarts: Mats Hummels vs. Dayot Upamecano

A man who knows both clubs inside out, Hummels is hoping to lead Dortmund to a win over his former team on Matchday 14. He'll need to show his full array of talents to do so, with his lived experience now adding to the precise passing and well-judged challenges that marked him out from an early age.

The central defender is in his third season back at Dortmund after winning three league titles in three years with Bayern between 2016 and 2019. Having twice become a German champion under Jürgen Klopp during his first spell with BVB, the 32-year-old knows just how decisive this fixture can be.

For Bayern, Hummels scored twice against Dortmund and had an overall record of six wins in nine matches across all competitions. His record for Dortmund against Bayern is less impressive - three goals and only eight wins in 26 matches - but there is time to improve on that.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup winner is certainly capable of making a difference at both ends of the pitch, having registered five Bundesliga goals in 2020/21 and scored a wonder goal against Bielefeld on Matchday 9.

Upamecano, meanwhile, is a newcomer to the Klassiker this season. The French defender only won one of his nine Bundesliga matches for RB Leipzig against BVB, and also endured a painful night against them in the 2020/21 DFB Cup final.

Bayern Munich defender Dayot Upamecano could have a big say in who takes victory in the Klassiker against Borussia Dortmund. - Markus Fischer via images/Passion2Press

The rugged and rapid centre-back was on the winning side in his first match for Bayern against Dortmund, however, looking assured alongside Niklas Süle in the DFL Supercup victory.

"Niki and Upa were incredibly stable at the back," said Nagelsmann after the game. "That's not easy against this kind of attacking power."

With Jerome Boateng and David Alaba leaving over the summer, it was always going to take time for Bayern's defence to settle. There have been a couple of bumps along the road, but Upamecano has been a regular in a side that once again tops the table and has won five games from five in the Champions League.

Like Hummels, the 23-year-old is classy and comfortable on the ball. And like the former Dortmund captain, he can be useful in opposition territory too. During the Matchday 10 game at Union Berlin, for example, Upamecano got himself an assist with a mazy dribble forward in the 5-2 win.

Thorgan Hazard has often pointed the way for Borussia Dortmund in 2021/22 - can the Belgian come up with the goods against Bayern Munich too? - Jan Huebner via images/Jan Huebner

Dortmund's dribblers vs. Bayern's speedsters

Particularly since Haaland got injured, Dortmund have needed to find goals from elsewhere. Raphael Guerreiro has chipped in with three, while Julian Brandt, Thorgan Hazard and Donyell Malen have weighed in too.

Both left sider Guerreiro and attacking midfielder Brandt scored in wins over Bayer Leverkusen and Augsburg, while Belgian attacker Hazard has four goals in all competitions including strikes in Bundesliga victories over Eintracht and Cologne. Malen had a slow start on his arrival from PSV, but he got his first league goal on Matchday 12 against Stuttgart and followed up against Sporting in the Champions League by hitting the post, having a shot cleared off the line, and scoring.

As usual, goalscoring has rarely been an issue for Bayern. Serge Gnabry is their second topscorer in the league with six so far, while a rejuvenated Leroy Sane has an impressive haul of nine goals and 10 assists in all competitions.

“He was incredible I thought,” Nagelsmann said after the former Manchester City winger helped himself to a goal and an assist in the 5-2 drubbing of Benfica on 2 November. “He had many great moments."

Backing those players up will be Canada international Alphonso Davies - the fastest player in Bundesliga history - and 18-year-old Germany cap Jamal Musiala - who has scored twice and made three more goals in the Bundesliga this term.

Put it this way: with so many threats on both sides, it's hard to see this game finishing 0-0.