Marco Reus (r.) and Co. will be hoping to avoid back-to-back defeats to FC Bayern München
Marco Reus (r.) and Co. will be hoping to avoid back-to-back defeats to FC Bayern München

Dortmund aiming to lay down a waymarker in Munich

Dortmund - It is a match-up of the top two teams in the Bundesliga, both by general consent and in terms of the actuality in the standings and while the immediate stakes have undoubtedly been higher in a good few of their other encounters of recent years, FC Bayern München against Borussia Dortmund will nonetheless be the unrivalled centrepiece of the league programme this weekend.

More than pride

Over and above the self-explanatory prestige factor there is, of course, the hard currency of points to be earned and here, Dortmund's need is, on balance, probably the more pressing.

They go into Matchday 30 three points clear of Ruhr district neighbours FC Schalke 04 in the race for second place and, most importantly, ten to the good on Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer 04 Leverkusen, the two sides posing the most immediate threat to their prospects of a top-three finish and the accompanying berth in the group stage of next season's UEFA Champions League.

For Bayern meanwhile, the big incentive on the statistical front is that in the wake of a home draw with 1899 Hoffenheim and an even more unexpected follow-up defeat at FC Augsburg, they now need to win all five remaining matches to best their own record 91-point haul from just last season.

Class of their own?

Spiking that specific attempt is unlikely to be high on the visitors' priority list at the Allianz Arena in Saturday's late kick-off. On top of maintaining their grip on second place, though, Jürgen Klopp's troops have the opportunity to lay down a marker for times yet to come, heading down the final straight of a campaign dominated like no other by a single team virtually from the off.

The charismatic BVB head coach's at best half-joking prophecy this time last year that the Bundesliga could develop into a one-horse race given the talent and resources at FC Bayern's disposal does have an unarguable truth to it. The Munich giants have after all just set a record for the earliest title wrap for the second season running, managing it by Matchday 27 this time around. A victory in the champions' backyard would send out the unequivocal message that a repeat command performance is by no means the inevitable outcome for 2014/15.

Open-ended omens

The signs are far from unfavourable for Dortmund, either. For one thing, there is that mini FC Bayern form slump; a draw and a loss in their last two outings hardly constitues a meltdown and is the norm on occasion for even the best of the rest, but how unsettling might it prove to a team who have not experienced its like on the home front for the best part of two years?

At any rate, the battle-hardened Ruhr district visitors are unlikely to be relying on a crisis of confidence in the champions' camp to come to the aid of their own cause. What they can certainly take solace from however is the fact that they are unbeaten on their last three trips to Munich on Bundesliga business, having chalked up memorable victories in each of their own title-winning campaigns before earning a share of the spoils there last season, when Bayern were otherwise pretty much steamrollering all and sundry.

Dortmund with more than a fighting chance

In fact, the 3-0 victory at the Signal Iduna Park last November was Bayern's first league success against Borussia, home or away, in four seasons. Mario Götze, who scored the equaliser for Klopp's Schwarz-Gelben on their last trip to the Bavarian capital, marked his uneasy return to Dortmund for the first time in a Bayern top by coming off the bench to score the opener in a contest far tighter than the final score might suggest.

It was a pivotal victory, helping Guardiola's side pull clear of an injury-plagued BVB team scratching around at the time to find four fit defenders. The Ruhr district side's form and fortunes remained on the wane for the rest of 2013, but things have been distinctly on the up since the resumption of league action after the winter break.

Top of the charts

They go into the big game in Munich having battled from behind to beat first Stuttgart then Wolfsburg and if the football is not yet consistently back to their exhilarating best, the team spirit is unquestionably intact. That on its own of course will not be enough to overcome a Bayern side who are top of the Bundesliga class not only in the standings but also in one sub-category after another, from dominance of possession through to perhaps less anticipated areas such as one-on-one duels.

When it comes to pass completion rates, though, it is little surprise to see a team coached by Guardiola well ahead of the competition. Last weekend, for example, just under 85 percent of Bayern's passes found a team-mate, as usual a division best. Dortmund, by contrast, had a pass accuracy of less than 62 percent, the third lowest of the matchday. Then again, it didn't prevent them beating Wolfsburg - while Bayern were coming up short at Augsburg. In football, as in life, statistics will only get you so far.

Check out this nightmare miss from yesteryear on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: