Coming up this week on GOAL!...
A clash of the Bundesliga's top two it may be but with 20 points separating them and only 15 still up for grabs, the stakes will be relatively low by their own recent standards when FC Bayern München play host to Borussia Dortmund on Saturday. That said, while there is no silverware directly or effectively on the line this time out, this meeting in the Bavarian capital is about far more than mere prestige. A home draw with Hoffenheim and an even less expected follow-up loss at Augsburg, ending their record 53-game unbeaten run in the top flight, leaves Bayern in the long-forgotten position of chasing their first win in three games and Jürgen Klopp's charges will be hoping to capitalise on that – again very relative – mini form slump to ensure they remain firmly in the driving seat in the race for second place, where they have opened up a three-point gap on Ruhr district neighbours Schalke. The men from Munich meanwhile have the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the qualities which made them champions in record-quick time this season – with a 3-0 victory at Dortmund, rung in by former BVB shooting star Mario Götze, one of the landmark successes along the way.
3 Minutes with...
...Thomas Helmer. At his peak perhaps one of the best central defenders in Europe, Helmer matured to international class at Borussia Dortmund and took his game up a further notch after switching to FC Bayern for a then-record Bundesliga fee in 1992. These days, the three-time German champion and Euro 96 winner with the national team is a high-profile TV pundit, making him the ideal man to ask which way this particular encounter between the country's top two might swing.
The history of FC Schalke 04 is inextricably intertwined with that of the eponymous coalmining village incorporated into the rapidly-growing city of Gelsenkirchen in 1903, a year before the current Bundesliga heavyweights were founded in their earliest incarnation. Few clubs have remained truer to their roots down the years, and that historical context is part of the basic education for every Schalke player. Two of the Royal Blues' latest generation of young guns, Leon Goretzka and Kaan Ayhan, are already well acquainted with the background. Midfield ace Goretzka hails from nearby Bochum, while defensive talent and fellow 19-year-old Ayhan is Gelsenkirchen born-and-bred. GOAL! accompanied the pair on a visit to the carefully preserved remnants of Zeche Hugo, a seriously impressive former coal mine which finally ran out of steam in 2000.
Team of the Season Vote
Up this week it's the defenders, with a twelve-man shortlist for your perusal. Given their miserly concession rate – all of 17 goals at the time of writing – it's no surprise to find FC Bayern well represented by Dante, Alaba et al., but there are plenty more quality contenders in the mix. Check them all out, then cast your vote on the website and have your say on the ultimate Bundesliga class of 2013/14!