Not much doubt on this score, as Saturday's late kick-off at the Allianz Arena sees Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund lock horns for the first time in the Bundesliga in 2012/13. The two current undisputed top dogs of the German game did have a curtain-raising encounter in the Supercup, where Bayern's 2-1 victory on home turf ended a sequence of five straight losses to Jürgen Klopp's Yellow-Blacks - most recently a 5-2 mauling in the DFB Cup final at the end of last season. This time around, with home advantage and already assured of top spot in the standings over the winter break , the men from Munich go into the game as slight favourites. But given that was also the case in the majority of their meetings over the past couple of years, and Dortmund's own recent form above all against top European opposition, Bayern know that tag needs to be taken with a champion-size pinch of salt.
With FC Bayern Munich sending one Bundesliga record after another tumbling this term, many were beginning to think this season's title race would be a rare one-horse affair. However, after a stuttering start, Borussia Dortmund have reemerged ahead of Saturday's much-anticipated clash in Munich with the message that at the very least they will not be giving up their crown without a fight. Dortmund's improved form has coincided with that of striker , who has muscled his way in amongst the frontrunners for this season's top scorer's award with some deadly displays of late. Last April it was Lewandowski's goal which separated the sides in dramatic style in Dortmund, contributing considerably to the Yellow-Blacks’ second successive title. Now coach Jürgen Klopp and his precocious ensemble are hoping their prolific Pole comes up trumps once again - this time in the Bavarian capital.
Amidst all the headlines being garnered by the new crop of Japanese talents emerging in the wake of former Dortmund star Shinji Kagawa - now at Manchester United - it can easily be forgotten that played a title-winning role in the Bundesliga the year before Kagawa arrived on the scene. An all-rounder for the middle of the park most often deployed in a defensive role, Hasebe does not perhaps have the high-profile attacking flair of some of his younger contemporaries. His tireless work rate, efficiency and dependability have nonetheless ensured that the 50-time Japan international has, for all the upheaval since the crowning glory of 2009, retained his place on the Wolfsburg personnel carousel - and remains a valued member of the set-up as the Wolves bid to climb the table under caretaker coach Lorenz-Günther Köstner.
3 Minutes with...
...Mame Diouf. Signed from Manchester United, by way of a season and a half on loan at Blackburn Rovers, Diouf made an instant impact both at home and abroad after joining Hannover 96 at the start of 2012. The exciting Senegalese forward talent netted six goals in the Bundesliga and four more in the 96ers' run to the last eight of the Europa League, before an ankle injury picked up on Matchday 30 prematurely ended his season. In the current campaign, Diouf has had to take his turn in a rotating forward line, while still getting a taste of the action more often than not - and continuing to chip in with vital goals as well.
All this and more in the latest edition of GOAL! The Bundesliga Magazine.