Lothar Matthäus knows all about Der Klassiker between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. - © DFL
Lothar Matthäus knows all about Der Klassiker between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. - © DFL

Lothar Matthäus on Der Klassiker between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, Robert Lewandowski, Erling Haaland and more


Lothar Matthäus faced Borussia Dortmund 21 times in all competitions as a Bayern Munich player across the 1980s and 90s. bundesliga.com caught up with the Bundesliga legend ahead of the latest edition of Der Klassiker, featuring "the best No.9s in the world", Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland...

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bundesliga.com: Lothar Matthäus, let's get the toughest question out of the way. Who's going to win Der Klassiker?

Lothar Matthäus: "I think it'll be an open game. Bayern have won their last six competitive meetings with Dortmund, but they're missing a key player in Joshua Kimmich, and Leon Goretzka is a doubt. It's a massive loss when you're without your preferred central midfield pairing. For Dortmund, it's important to have Erling Haaland available again. With him in the starting line-up, it'll be a close call, but Bayern are still the favourites."

bundesliga.com: What can the fans expect from the game?

Matthäus: "It's going to be a tight game. I really don't see one team running out clear winners. Bayern often dominate these games at the Allianz Arena, but the games in Dortmund are a lot tighter and more of a fight. Neither team will go all-out attack. They'll want to impose themselves physically and command respect in the tackle. Both teams are really well equipped in attack - they don't just rely on Haaland and Robert Lewandowski - but I don't think it'll benefit either side to throw six or seven players forward."

Watch: Der Klassiker - a rich history, starring Lothar Matthäus

bundesliga.com: It'll be the first Bundesliga Klassiker for the two coaches and some of the players. What can they expect, what makes the game so special?

Matthäus: "It's a global spectacle, which is what makes it really special. Around 200 countries will be following the game. It's also a huge game: Dortmund can go top of the table with a win. For the game in Dortmund, it's important the fans create a good atmosphere. Even though the stadium can't be a sell-out, the 12th man can really spur BVB on."

bundesliga.com: Dortmund have a lot of players returning from injury and are almost at full strength. Are Dortmund on a par with Bayern?

Matthäus: "No. Bayern are the most dominant team in Germany and one of the foremost teams in Europe. You've seen that in the Champions League, where they've won every group game. In games against Bayern, Dortmund always have chances to win, but Bayern win probably seven out of 10 times."

bundesliga.com: Bayern have to do without Joshua Kimmich, who's often such a decisive player in Der Klassiker. How big of a loss is he?

Matthäus: "It's not only Kimmich's passion that makes him so important; he's a quality player. He's decided past games against Dortmund. For me, he's on the same level as Lewandowski, Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller. Bayern didn't extend his deal for nothing. When Neuer retires, I'm sure he'll inherit the captain's armband for club and country. He'll guarantee Bayern further success, even when other pillars of the team move on."

bundesliga.com: What do you like best about Haaland and Lewandowski?

Matthäus: "There's not much to say about there two that hasn't been said before. We're really running out of superlatives. For me, they're the best classic No.9s in the world, alongside Real Madrid's Karim Benzema. Lewandowski's top of the pile, and Haaland will succeed him at some point. Both are incredibly important for their teams. Whevever they're on the pitch, you get the impression the other players feel they can score out of nothing."

bundesliga.com: Robert Lewandowski has just been named Striker of the Year, and finished second in the Ballon d'Or vote. Do you think Haaland will be as successful one day?

Matthäus: "For me, Lewandowski is the real winner of this year's Ballon d'Or, and Haaland will succeed him at some point. I've got no doubt that Haaland will be the best striker in the world. He's already further along in his development than Lewandowski was at 21. If he keeps both feet on the ground, he'll have a similar career to Lewandowski's."

Watch: All Lewandowski and Haaland goals so far this Bundesliga season

bundesliga.com: Bayern have already scored a Bundesliga record 102 calendar year goals. Bayern have always ben good, but appear to have got even better. How do you explain that?

Matthäus: "One-hundred-and-two goals is unparalleled, sensational - and there are still four games of the year to go. Bayern are set up to attack - they were even more attack-minded under Hansi Flick than Julian Nagelsmann. They have players with pace, who can dribble and are full of tricks. I don't want to single anyone out because that applies to pretty much all of their attackers. There's real quality on the bench, they all feel like regulars. With their ingenuity, they always create goal-scoring chances. Lewandowski profits from that, too. Without his teammates, he wouldn't have gone into the history books. It's always about the team first."

bundesliga.com: Do you expect an entertaining game between Dortmund and Bayern?

Matthäus: "That's what we all want. Bayern have had one or two wobbles already this season. They'll be hoping their most important players don't miss out. Bayern are the favourites, but Dortmund aren't far behind. BVB have been able to grind out wins in tight games, which wasn't always the case in prevous years. It's good for the Bundesliga that Dortmund are taking the fight to Bayern. Even as a former Bayern player, I hope the title race goes down to the final day of the season."