Matthijs de Ligt and Nico Schlotterbeck (l-r.) hold things together for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund respectively. - © /
Matthijs de Ligt and Nico Schlotterbeck (l-r.) hold things together for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund respectively. - © /

Matthijs de Ligt vs. Nico Schlotterbeck: How do the Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund defenders compare?


Matthijs de Ligt and Nico Schlotterbeck are the glue which holds everything together in the Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund defences, so how do they compare ahead of Der Klassiker? finds out...

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Matthijs de Ligt

De Ligt joined Bayern from Juventus in the summer after three solid seasons in Serie A, during which he strengthened a glowing reputation he had started forging as a 17-year-old captain of Ajax. With the Dutch club, de Ligt rose to prominence during an impressive run to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League in 2018/19, which included an eye-catching 4-1 win at Real Madrid and elimination of Juventus - convincing the Old Lady to sign him up the following summer.

Watch: Der Klassiker - time to get real!

He has kicked on with Bayern and, after an initial bedding-in phase, has started nine of Bayern’s 10 Bundesliga fixtures since the turn of the year, delivering the statistics to prove his credentials as one of the league’s leading centre-backs. A good indication of his progress can be gained from his foul figures: in his past 15 Bundesliga games, he has committed just eight fouls, compared with 10 in his first seven league outings, while he has won more tackles (63 percent) than any other Bayern player.

De Ligt’s not just a reliable tackler, though. When he has the ball, he rarely loses it, delivering 94 percent of his passes to their intended targets. Across the Bundesliga, only Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Nico Elvedi boasts a better pass success rate. He has also already proven to be effective in the opposition’s penalty area, scoring two goals this term to add to the eight he plundered in Italy and 12 in the Netherlands.

De Ligt has been at the heart of Bayern's defensive efforts this season. - Daniel Kopatsch/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

The fact he first pulled on the captain’s armband for Ajax when he was just 17 speaks volumes about his sense of responsibility and strength of character, and he showed no nerves on his Klassiker debut in the reverse fixture, winning 67 percent of tackles and delivering a phenomenal pass success rate of 98 percent. He did pick up an early yellow card, though, and was withdrawn after just over an hour, with Bayern squandering the two-goal lead they had with de Ligt on the field only to draw 2-2.

Nico Schlotterbeck

Schlotterbeck also made a move in the summer, joining Dortmund from Freiburg off the back of a highly impressive 2021/22 campaign which led to him making his Germany debut against Israel. He has become a regular for his country since, and is the only Dortmund player to have started every single one of their Bundesliga fixtures this season, being substituted only twice.

Watch: The best of Nico Schlotterbeck

If de Ligt’s tackling statistics looked good, they pale in comparison to Schlotterbeck’s league-leading 68 percent tackle success rate, while he is more involved in Dortmund’s play than any other player, averaging 88 phases of possession per 90 minutes. And like de Ligt, the 6'2" centre-half can be a threat at the other end of the field, with four goals and four assists already to his name – the sort of statistics even a midfielder or forward would not turn their nose up at. Indeed, it's a league-leading goal contribution among central defenders.

Schlotterbeck also impressed in his first ever Klassiker, setting up the dramatic last-gasp Anthony Modeste equaliser as Dortmund took a point against their arch rivals for the first time since November 2018. As has become customary, Schlotterbeck was on the ball more than any of his teammates (68 times) and had the best tackling success rate (78 percent) of all the players on the field that day. Will he be able to deliver similar statistics in the latest Klassiker?

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With eight goal contributions, Schlotterbeck has contributed as much to the Dortmund attack as he has to their defence. - INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images