Munich - FC Bayern München boss Pep Guardiola insists that his side will not take their league encounter with second-placed Borussia Dortmund lightly ahead of Matchday 30’s Klassiker at the Allianz Arena this Saturday (kick-off 16.30 GMT / 18.30 CEST).
Wary of the Klopp factor
Bayern host BVB having sealed the Bundesliga title almost three weeks ago and while they have a DFB Cup semi-final against Bundesliga 2 side 1. FC Kaiserslautern on Wednesday, Guardiola insisted that “this is the game we’re focused on now, not Kaiserslautern and not Real Madrid”.
At his pre-match press conference, the 43-year-old expressed his “excitement at the challenge” of a UEFA Champions League semi-final against the nine-time kings of Europe, but his focus quickly shifted to the immediate hurdle of hosting a Borussia Dortmund side that in his opinion are, along with Real Madrid, “the best counter-attacking side in the world”.
“They have lots of quick players and are a very strong team," Guardiola continued. “We can’t just assume that because we’re champions that we’ll beat them easily. When you play against a Jürgen Klopp team, you have to be careful.” Indeed, the first league meeting between these two sides this term ended in a comfortable win for the Reds, but it was also only their first Bundesliga win in seven attempts against die Schwarz-Gelben.
Dortmund themselves are coming into the game with their chests firmly puffed out. On Tuesday night they exited the Champions League against Madrid, but did so with their heads held high after a brilliant team performance and a 2-0 win that was sadly not enough to prevent a 3-2 aggregate defeat. “I wasn’t surprised that they beat Real,” admitted the Reds’ Spanish international Javi Martinez. “They’re a dangerous team and it’s very tough to play them.”
Klopp revealed on Wednesday that the defeat to Madrid “hasn’t affected our confidence” ahead of the trip to the Bavarian capital, and the general mood at the club will be all the more optimistic after two important developments off the pitch this week: the agreement of deals to sign Nuri Sahin (whose loan from Real will be made permanent), and Adrian Ramos from Hertha Berlin.
Nevertheless, like Bayern, Klopp will also have one eye on next week, as BVB have their own DFB Cup semi-final to look forward to at home to VfL Wolfsburg. “We’ll go there with the mentality of giving them a game and taking something back with us,” said CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, while striker Robert Lewandowski, soon to be a Bayern player, has targeted the match as an "important game" in the race for second place, as well as for his own personal target of finishing as top scorer this season.
One thing that is certain, though, is that this will be a contest which both will be determined to win. From Lewandowski’s opportunity to give his future employers a taste of what to expect next season to Mario Götze’s reunion with the Dortmund fans that once adored him, and the hosts’ desire to end a two-match domestic winless run: there is plenty to keep fans glued to their screens for this one.
Bayern: Neuer - Lahm, Martinez, Dante, Alaba - Lahm - Ribery, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Müller,- Pizarro
Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Friedrich, Sokratis, Durm - Kirch, Jojic - Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, Hofmann- Lewandowski
Check out the ten best goals to have been scored by FC Bayern players against Dortmund on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: