Expected to be front and centre as they seek to repel some of the Bundesliga’s most lethal attackers, goalkeepers Yann Sommer of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dormund’s Greogor Kobel both have what it takes to tame Der Klassiker.
Ahead of Saturday’s showcase fixture in Germany’s top division, bundesliga.com outlines the key numbers these Swiss shot stoppers bring into a game that could turn the season in their respective team’s favour.
The man the record champions hated to face, it’s little wonder Bayern opted to sign the flying custodian from Borussia Mönchengladbach last January as cover for the injured Manuel Neuer. Standing at an even 6’0”, Sommer may be the Bundesliga’s shortest goalkeeper, but he is also the division’s most efficient, the 34-year-old boasting an outstanding Keeper Efficiency of +8.4. That means he has made over eight saves more than statistically expected by his xSaves value.
Gladbach’s No. 1 for eight and a half incredible years, the Vaud native is still first choice for Switzerland and brought his tally up to 82 senior caps when keeping two clean sheets in the recent international break.
Watch: Sommer lovin' - when Yann touched down at Bayern
Now the third non-German goalkeeper to play for Bayern after Jean-Marie Pfaff and Pepe Reina, Sommer is also on top of the pile in the Bundesliga as the all-time leading foreign goalkeeper with 282 top-flight matches and counting.
“I'm basically satisfied, but I always want to improve; I want to be a top goalkeeper for Bayern Munich, that's what I aspire to," Sommer said in an interview with Kicker. And he is doing just that. No other goalkeeper can compete with Sommer’s astonishing 78 percent of shots saved stat this term and of the 14 goals that have gone past him since he has signed for the defending Bundesliga champions, none can be directly attributed to him.
Indeed, you need to go back to some 77 games and to November 2020 in an encounter against Bayer Leverkusen to find when Sommer was last at fault for a goal. Asked what is the secret to his success, the former Basel youth explained, "In general, I always prepare extremely meticulously for all attacking players.
"[I study] how they move, what their preferred finish is, how they react under pressure,” the keeper said, adding that he also notes information on how forwards behave at “free-kicks and corners."
Dortmund will know what they’re up against on Saturday as they try to conjure a way past one of the Bundesliga’s best in position. A jaw-dropping performance against Bayern for Gladbach earlier this season saw Sommer pull off a record-breaking 19 saves to earn his team a point at the Allianz Arena.
Watch: All 19 of Sommer's saves against Bayern
Unlikely to face such an intense onslaught now protected by Bayern’s immense defence, the Swiss shot-stopper will nonetheless be primed for whatever flies his way during his first Der Klassiker.
“Of course, it's a really important game the next one at home against Dortmund,” Sommer recently told bundesliga.com. “It will be a tough game with a lot of pressure [but] we want to take back first place.”
“I'm fit and available again [but] in the end we must see what the coach decides.” There was music to BVB fans’ ears this week as the Black-and-Yellows’ first-choice goalkeeper declared himself ready for selection after recovering from a thigh complaint that has kept him sidelined for his side’s last three games.
Now in his second full season with Dortmund following a switch from VfB Stuttgart back in 2021, Kobel has been steadily improving and at just 25, looks to have all of the attributes required to help his team maintain a title push. With Dortmund excelling in a thus far unbeaten 2023 in the Bundesliga, Kobel has saved 23 of the 25 shots he has faced (or 92 percent) since the turn of the year.
Overall in 2022/23, the ex-Hoffenheim goalie has managed to save 77 percent of the shots he has faced, the second highest rating in the league among goalkeepers who have played more than five games.
Trailing only Freiburg’s Mark Flekken and Koen Casteels of Wolfsburg in terms of clean sheets, Kobel’s eight shutouts combined with a Keeper Efficiency of +5.4 mark him out as one of the Bundesliga’s best goalkeepers right now.
“I'm still relatively young [and] I always try to keep working on myself,” Kobel said in an interview with Sky Germany recently. “I always try to improve myself by watching games, watching training sessions and just taking the next step. The daily work, including the lifestyle with sleep, nutrition and training is fun for me; that's part of it too,” the Zurich-born custodian continued.
Watch: Cool-hands Kobel at your service
Kobel has now amassed 65 games in all competitions for Dortmund and, along with Stuttgart and Hoffenheim, has also gained German top-flight experience during a loan spell with Augsburg back in 2018/19. Having come all the way up through the Swiss youth ranks, he made his senior Switzerland bow in 2021 and – as part of his four caps – enjoyed game time at the recent FIFA World Cup.
With the return to domestic action, and his own return to fitness, focus turns to Saturday’s colossal Klassiker encounter in Munich, a game Dortmund go into as Bundesliga leaders. "When you play for Dortmund, the title is always a thing,” Kobel said.
“In the end, football is just so nice because you never know what might happen. The games that are coming up are the games that players look forward to and are the most exciting for the fans.”
Watch: Explaining Keeper Efficiency, the new Bundesliga Match Fact
Fan excitement is all but guaranteed at the Allianz Arena this Saturday and with two of the Bundesliga’s best goalkeepers ready to bookend the action in Bavaria, this swashbuckling fixture has even more enticing elements stacked in its favour.
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