Munich - The 59th Bundesliga edition of the Bavarian derby between FC Bayern Munich and 1. FC Nürnberg promises to be a rousing contest as the two rivals prepare to face off against one another in the Allianz Arena on Saturday (kick-off 15.30 CET).
Die Münchener haven’t lost a home fixture to their local rivals since 1992, but Nürnberg have a coach in Michael Wiesinger who knows what it takes to win this derby. In his pre-match press conference, the 40-year-old, who played for both clubs, referred to a game against the Reds in the 1993/94 season, when his Nürnberg team upset the odds and “dominated Bayern for 90 minutes” to win. “Sometimes the weaker side comes out on top,” he said.
And not many would doubt that his team are the weaker of the two. Bayern come into the game after a perfect start, with two wins from their opening two games. They have now gone 27 Bundesliga games unbeaten, setting a new club record in the process and seemed to rectify the tactical errors on show during week one against 3-1 success against Borussia Mönchengladbach after the clinical 1-0 win against Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 2.
They can also hope to finally see Mario Götze in action. The 21-year-old was an unused substitute in Frankfurt but is set to retain his place in the squad this weekend, while there could also be a place for Javi Martinez, who boosted an already formidable midfield by returning to training this week. Arjen Robben, for one, shared the team’s positivity ahead of the derby. “We’re certainly heading in the right direction.” One man whose participation is in doubt is Franck Ribery. The Frenchman is recovering from an ankle knock but Bayern may want him involved in any case, as he has helped his team to win their last 17 games when on the pitch, a record only equalled by Roy Makaay.
Nürnberg’s strength lies in their resilience, a quality that has been especially evident since Wiesinger took charge. They have fought back twice to claim a point in their opening two games, against 1899 Hoffenheim on the opening day and then at home to Hertha Berlin last week, the latter courtesy of a sublime Hiroshi Kiyotake free-kick. Moreover, they have lost just five of their 19 games with Wiesinger at the helm.
Wiesinger is himself boosted by the news that “Per Nilsson is fit again and Markus Feulner got through training”, meaning the Franconians have a full squad to choose from, discounting midfielder Timo Gebhart (adductor). The Burghausen-native bigged up the derby atmosphere, highlighting the game as “important for the whole region” and despite conceding that last season’s Champions were favourites, hopes his side can players can rise to the occasion. “It will be a difficult game but it’s something really special”, he added.
FC Bayern captain Philipp Lahm told bundesliga.com this week that the match certainly held “special significance for me as a Bavarian” and that he expected a “good atmosphere”. He also added that Nürnberg would be “more motivated and better-organised defensively”, but said that Pep Guardiola was well aware of the potential threat.
His team-mate Thomas Müller described Saturday’s opposition as “always uncomfortable” but reminded everyone that there were “few problems in the Allianz last year [when Bayern won 4-0], so let’s hope it’s the same this time round”. This season’s derby could well be a much closer affair, however.
Bayern: Neuer - Lahm, van Buyten, Dante, Alaba - Schweinsteiger - Robben, T. Müller, Thiago, Ribery - Mandzukic
Nürnberg: R. Schäfer - Feulner, Nilsson, Pogatetz, Pinola - Staek, Balitsch - Kiyotake, Mak, Drmic - Ginczek