Munich - Former France international Bixente Lizarazu played 183 Bundesliga matches for FC Bayern München, including a fair share against Borussia Dortmund.
Both FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund are battling injuries, but here's what might have happened had Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer and Franck Ribery been fit for Saturday'sKlassiker. All this and much more on theofficial Bundesliga YouTube channel!
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the left-back-turned-pundit looks forward to this weekend's clash between his former employers and arch rivals BVB.
bundesliga.com: Mr Lizarazu, how much are you looking forward to the top-of-the-table clash between Dortmund and Bayern?
Bixente Lizarazu: Of course I'm looking forward to it, it's going to be a classic. This game has now become as attractive as the games between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF.
bundesliga.com: Why is that?
Lizarazu: FC Bayern are currently the best team in Europe and Dortmund are now one of Europe's best, too. BVB are the team who in the past two or three years have taken the biggest leap forward in Europe. It's sensational when you think back to how close this club was to extinction just eight years ago.
bundesliga.com: What kind of a game are you expecting at the Signal Iduna Park?
Lizarazu: Both teams like to attack and place a lot of emphasis on playing spectacular football. There's also a degree of revenge in it for Dortmund after the Champions League final. Bayern were the better team in the end at Wembley because they were more experienced and also because they were able to deal with their emotions for such a big occasion better. Dortmund have become a serious rival to Bayern domestically, like SV Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 would always put them under pressure in the past, although they never really challenged them for such a long time. Now Dortmund have got to be taken seriously. They did not win the Bundesliga in 2011 and 2012 by chance, nor did they reach the Champions League final by fluke.
bundesliga.com: This top clash takes place in Dortmund. Is that an advantage for BVB?
Lizarazu: Of course there's a special kind of atmosphere there and these games are always incredibly intense. The players are professionals, though, and they know how to deal with such games. This is the clash of the titans, and Dortmund don't lose all that often in front of their Gelbe Wand.
bundesliga.com:Mario Götze could lay a key role. As an ex-Dortmund player, it's certainly not going to be an easy return for him, don't you think?
Lizarazu: That's what you've got to expect. It's going to be uncomfortable for him. I think that the decisive players are going to be the likes of Franck Ribery, Thomas Müller, Arjen Robben and Mario Mandzukic for Bayern, or Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Marco Reus for Dortmund.
bundesliga.com: What do you make of Lewandowski?
Lizarazu: He's just carrying on from where he left off last season. He's very consistent and is one of the best strikers in the world. He's the real deal.
bundesliga.com: How do you see the game going?
Lizarazu: I think we're going to see an even battle. Both teams know each other inside out. Dortmund have played a decent season so far and they carry on playing exciting football. What surprises me the most about them is their consistency. They are there or thereabouts every single year without showing any signs of weakness. It's tough to play against BVB because they simply never let up and they carry on pressing deep. Jürgen Klopp's doing a great job. It's incredible what he's done so far. In my eyes, his biggest strength is how he always manages to get the best out of his players. His squad may not have the same level of quality as Bayern's, but Dortmund are always dangerous. I really expect that to be the case for many years to come.
Interview by Alexis Menuge