Cologne - Every game between FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund comes with its own particular sub-plot or three and the Matchday 10 meeting of the Bundesliga's two flagship clubs is no exception. Apart from the glaring disparity in their recent form – in the Bundesliga, at any rate, with both going great guns in the UEFA Champions League – one of the most fascinating aspects of Saturday's early-evening encounter at the Allianz Arena in Munich promises to be the tussle between the visitors' defence and two members of Bayern's mighty frontline with whom they are best acquainted.
Götze's star on the rise again
Together, and have accounted for ten of the defending champions' division-best 21 goals to date. Götze, with six of them, sits joint top of the individual scoring chart after nine matchdays alongside Eintracht Frankfurt's Alex Meier. Germany's FIFA World Cup final hero and Poland's world-class centre-forward make for an attacking combination to send a shiver down the collective spine of any opposition back row. And until the season before last, of course, they were doing just that on a regular basis for Borussia Dortmund.
Lewandowski's switch of allegiance this summer was the object of exponentially less venom on the part of many a Dortmund supporter than that of his once-and-future team-mate the season before. In part, at least, that can likely be put down to the Warsaw native's departure being the chronicle of a transfer foretold, while Götze's intention to move south to their arch-rivals came pretty much out of the blue to fans and management in like measure.
His response to the hostile reception awaiting him on his first return to the Signal Iduna Park in a Bayern shirt has already earned its own niche in the Bundesliga annals. Just minutes after coming off the bench in the second half, Götze poked a delicate finish past BVB custodian Roman Weidenfeller to set Bayern on the road to an eventual 3-0 victory. At that juncture, he was still finding his feet in a team in the process of being remoulded by their equally new head coach, Pep Guardiola. A year down the line, he is getting back to his scintillating best and firmly established as a first-team regular, insofar as that term can be applied to any attacking player in the record champions' all-star ensemble.
Lewandowski in the fast lane
By comparison, Lewandowski's settling-in process in his debut season in Munich has been singularly fast-tracked. Like Götze, the 25-year-old striker has started seven of Bayern's opening nine league games and come on once as a sub. As well as netting four goals himself with his trusty right peg, he has laid on a couple more and carved out 45 chances all-told. His own desire to try his luck with Germany's (generally) undisputed top club was an open secret long before the deal was officially sealed during the last winter break.
Lewandowski was at pains to stress he would remain fully committed to Dortmund through to the end of the season, a pledge he fulfilled by finishing the campaign as Bundesliga top scorer for the first time, on 20 goals. Much more than a 'mere' dispatcher, however, his outstanding technique, stamina and match intelligence make him widely regarded as perhaps the most complete central striker anywhere in the game at the moment.
Never being content to rest on his laurels is one of the attributes that has earned Lewandowski such an elevated perch and in that vein, he has cited the desire to “improve further” as a central motivating force behind his move to Munich – as well, it need hardly be said, as the opportunity to add substantially to an already impressive trophy collection from his four years at Dortmund.
Asked, before the serious action got under way this season, about the imminent prospect of linking up again with Götze, he told the tabloid Bild it would be “a lot, lot better for both myself and Mario when we can play together again”. Not so good for the rest of the Bundesliga, though, and Dortmund, without a clean sheet to their name in nine outings so far, will have to up their domestic game considerably on Saturday to maintain any semblance of a grip on the Bayern offensive spearheaded by their own former star duo.