It doesn't get much bigger than playing at the Allianz Arena in Der Klassiker. bundesliga.com looks at which Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund players could have the opportunity to do just that for the very first time this weekend...
Dayot Upamecano has already experienced the full impact of a Klassiker twice since he arrived at Bayern from RB Leipzig last July. The central defender played the full 90 minutes when Bayern beat BVB 3-1 to lift the Super Cup in August and was there again for his team's 3-2 Bundesliga win at Signal Iduna Park in early December.
Yet - if selected on Saturday - Upamecano will be playing in his first home Klassiker and in front of a full house of 75,000 fanatical supporters, the majority of whom will be hoping the hosts can gain the victory that would guarantee a 10th straight Bundesliga title.
Watch: Bayern win this season's first Bundesliga Klassiker
The 23-year-old has appeared in 25 Bundesliga games for Bayern this term, scoring once and providing five assists, whilst winning more challenges than any Bayern defender (256). His presence against Dortmund could prove crucial as he attempts to thwart a thirsty visiting attacking line that conjured six goals in their last outing against Wolfsburg. But challenging against the very best and at the highest level is exactly what Upamecano was aiming for when he arrived at Säbener Straße.
"Frankly, when you come to one of the best clubs in the world, you tell yourself the competition is tough," the centre-back said recently. "I will fight; that was always my attitude, no matter where I've been. I play for one of the best teams in the world [and] I'm proud of that," the Evreux native continued, before adding, "I fight for this shirt; I want to give the maximum."
Another of those who will be looking to give their maximum is Dortmund's super shot stopper, Gregor Kobel. The Switzerland international goalkeeper has been one of Die Schwarzgelben's standout talents this term, excelling since signing from VfB Stuttgart last summer. In 29 top-flight games, Kobel has kept eight clean sheets and with the possibility of playing in front of a full house this weekend, the 24-year-old will be eager to frustrate Robert Lewandowski and Co. as they look to fire Bayern to top honours.
" When the roaring comes from all sides, that gives me an extra push," the 'keeper said of playing in front of packed stadiums once again this season.
Kobel also featured in this season's previous two Klassikers and so, aside from his first appearance at the Allianz Arena with Dortmund, the 6'4" custodian wants another personal first between the BVB posts, a win against Bayern Munich. Also previously on the books of Hoffenheim and Augsburg, Kobel has made 81 saves with Die Schwarzgelben and is expected to be a big part of the club's future.
"It does something to you when you come to Dortmund; you notice immediately what and for whom you are playing here," he said. The next step in the Zurich-born goalkeeper's career awaits on Saturday.
That very same step could be taken by BVB forward Donyell Malen, should the forward recover in time from the muscular injury that has kept him sidelined for his team's last two league games. The 23-year-old lined out at some of Europe's most emblematic grounds with his former team PSV Eindhoven, like Barcelona's Camp Nou and the San Siro in Milan, but he has yet to grace the Allianz Arena on Klassiker day.
Having netted five goals and laid on three assists in his 27 Bundesliga games to date, Malen would love nothing more than to quieten the home crowd in Munich with an outstanding performance this coming Saturday that would cement his improvement in 2021/22.
"He's playing with a lot more confidence, asking for the ball more, demonstrating his flair and chipping in in front of goal. Now we have to work to make sure he can keep it up," Dortmund coach Marco Rose said of the Dutch goal-getter, with Malen himself adding, "I know I have qualities that can help me take Borussia Dortmund forward."
If Malen is still sweating on his fitness ahead of Saturday's Matchday 31 meeting, one player who is available to Dortmund's opponents is Bouna Sarr, the Senegalese full back who was on the bench when Bayern beat Dortmund at the Allianz last season, but who is yet to enjoy his first on-field Klassiker participation at FCB's home ground. Ever-present for Senegal during their successful Africa Cup of Nations win recently, Sarr has shaken off a knee injury in time to give coach Julian Nagelsmann one more option in his big-game plans.
And what of Dortmund's newest teen sensation, Tom Rothe? Could the 17-year-old - who burst onto the senior scene with a sensational debut goal against Wolfsburg last weekend - be thrown into the Klassiker mix after his fearless showing last time out? Rose will certainly have no qualms about fielding the left-sided full-back in his first Klassiker, should the need arise.
"Due to our injury situation, it was time to give the kid his chance today," Rose said of Rothe's appearance in the starting XI last Saturday. "He settled into the game straight away and wasn't overawed. His confidence grew with the goal [and] he played a very solid game," the tactician continued.
"I'd never have thought it would go like that after just 20 minutes; I had goosebumps," Rothe said of scoring on his first senior appearance for the Black-Yellows. There could yet be more goosebumps for him and others hoping to make their very first Klassiker appearance at the Allianz Arena this weekend.
Tom Rothe: MD30's Man of the Matchday
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Bouna Sarr: Bayern's Africa Cup of Nations hero
Buoyed by continental glory with Senegal, could Bouna Sarr use the success as a springboard to make the breakthrough at Bayern?
Dortmund's young guns take aim at leaders Bayern
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