Joshua Kimmich and Jude Bellingham are two of the finest midfielders on the planet, but how do the Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund maestros compare ahead of Der Klassiker? bundesliga.com finds out...
Kimmich has established himself as one of the world’s greatest No.6s, moulding the holding midfielder role in his own special way to become almost a hybrid No.8, though his formative years hardly hinted at such a forward-thinking progression. Indeed, Kimmich was thrown in at the deep end by former Bayern coach Pep Guardiola, who put him at the heart of his defence. More accustomed to playing as a full-back, Kimmich was gradually moved by Jupp Heynckes into the midfield, where he has been pulling the strings ever since.
Watch: The best of Kimmich and Bellingham
Always keen to be involved, Kimmich has played in 24 out of Bayern’s 25 Bundesliga games so far this season, wearing the captain’s armband six times. The one game he missed was due to the first red card of his career, though even without that game, he has played more minutes (2039) than any other Bayern player this term. Furthermore, with an average of 99 phases of possession per 90 minutes, he has been on the ball more than any other player in the league this season.
When Kimmich has the ball, Bayern’s play generally shifts from defence to attack. Comfortable driving forward, Kimmich has set up six goals this season coming from deep, while only Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Jonas Hofmann has set up more shooting opportunities for teammates than Kimmich’s 54. His dead-ball deliveries are deadly, with eight leading to goals, five of which were Kimmich corners – more than any other team in the league this season.
It is on the biggest stage that Kimmich excels, though, and he has won 10 of his 14 Bundesliga Klassikers, leaving on the losing side just twice. His two Klassiker goals to date were decisive: a spectacular lob to earn Bayern a 1-0 victory in Dortmund at the business end of the 2019/20 Bundesliga campaign and the winner in the Supercup later that year. The stand-in Germany skipper also has three assists in previous meetings with Dortmund.
A living definition of a box-to-box midfielder, meanwhile, Bellingham certainly prefers to be closer to the opposition penalty area than his own, taking more shots on goal (45) than all of his Dortmund teammates this season, bar Julian Brandt.
Watch: All of Bellingham's goals and assists
Like Kimmich, Bellingham has missed just one game this season, allowing him to produce some of his best career stats yet, including four goals and a league-leading 380 challenges won. Given he has quickly become one of the first names on the Dortmund team sheet, the England international has inevitably broken a string of records since arriving in Germany from Birmingham City, where he had made his debut as a 16 year old.
He reached the landmark of 75 Bundesliga appearances at the tender age of 19 years and 132 days (a league record), and he became the youngest captain in Dortmund's history when he led out BVB for their game with Cologne on Matchday 8. More recently, his 81st of 85 Bundesliga games marked his 50th win, making him the youngest player ever to reach half a century of victories, unseating Bayern’s Jamal Musiala from that particular throne.
Watch: Der Klassiker - time to get real!
Where Bellingham does still have some room for improvement is in Der Klassiker, however. He has been on the losing side four times and left the field with a draw once. A maiden win in the fixture will be his target this weekend, and you would not bet against Dortmund's midfield general succeeding.
Read more of our Klassiker comparisons here:
How will Germany line up at Euro 2024?
Toni Kroos has been tempted out of international retirement ahead of Euro '24. How will Julian Nagelsmann's Germany line up with Real Madrid star back in their ranks?
Grillitsch wins 2023 Goal of the Year!
The Hoffenheim midfielder's brilliant effort from the halfway line against Cologne in September beat the likes of Harry Kane and 11 other strikes to the award.
How do Bayern replace Kimmich against Dortmund?
The 28-year-old's red card against Darmstadt means Thomas Tuchel has a decision to make as the Klassiker looms...