As if Der Klassiker against Borussia Dortmund was not already big enough, the fixture just took on an extra dimension for FC Bayern München.
Newly-promoted RB Leipzig drew level on points at the top on Matchday 10 and Dortmund signaled their intent with a 5-2 win in Hamburg. Defeat in Dortmund would see Bayern’s lead over their rivals shrink to three points. Preparations for the big game have started in earnest.
Despite the upcoming international break, Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski switched his attention to the meeting with his former club immediately after his side’s 1-1 draw at home to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. "We have the game against Dortmund coming up and it's important for us to pick up points," he said following the record champions’ third draw of the campaign so far. "Every season is different and we can’t have a ten-point lead all the time. There are two or three teams battling for top spot this time round."
Watch: Lewandowski anaylses the Bundesliga season so far:
Ribery on comeback trail
After returning to training last week following a thigh operation, Franck Ribery is set for a return to first-team action in Dortmund. The Frenchman would inject pace on the flanks that has been missing in recent weeks.
There was cause for optimism at the back too, as Jerome Boating remains hopeful of shaking off a knee injury before the trip to the Signal Iduna Park despite pulling out of the Germany squad this week. "We want to show we’re in good form and can beat Dortmund in Dortmund," said World Cup-winning defender. "We need to work hard on our game and against Hoffenheim we showed deficits on the counter-attack and lacked aggression. We made too many mistakes."
Watch: Highlights of Bayern's Matchday 10 draw at home to Hoffenheim:
Rummenigge encourages Müller
In the closing stages of the Hoffenheim game, Thomas Müller hit the post from a promising position as his goal drought in the Bundesliga continued. However, he found encouragement from the very top. Club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Müller that, "even as European Footballer of the Year, I went ten games without scoring. You just need to keep working hard and then you’ll get three some time. And I can promise him that he will."
Müller did find the net in his last outing in Dortmund to seal a 2-0 victory for Bayern in the Supercup at the start of the season. His strike partner Lewandowski has also enjoyed a prolific streak against his former club. Leaving the goalless draw last time round aside, Lewandowski has scored in every game against his former side since moving to Munich in 2014. "I hope we hit the ground running after the international break," said Lewandowski in the hope that Bayern will keep at least one of their closest challengers at arm’s length.