Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München will bring Germany to a standstill this Saturday.
Der Klassiker is the mother of all Bundesliga fixtures, and this weekend's SIGNAL IDUNA PARK clash is no exception. Indeed, the stakes have rarely been higher than they are on Matchday 25. Allow bundesliga.com to explain why.
Tuchel vs Guardiola
"He's a top, top, top, top coach – one of the best in the world," said Bayern coach Pep Guardiola of his Dortmund counterpart Thomas Tuchel. The superlatives underline the respect Guardiola has for a man who openly admits to have garnered much of his own coaching acumen from observing how the Catalan made FC Barcelona such a force to be reckoned with in European football. The respect is mutual, but their shared aspiration for glory will see handshakes exchanged only before and after kick-off, with tactical tinkering occupying their thoughts for 90-plus minutes when the two tactical geniuses try to outwit each other on the touchline.
Aubameyang vs Lewandowski
With 45 goals in 24 matches – more than any other two strikers in the history of the Bundesliga (together with Gerd Müller and Jupp Heynckes in 1973/74) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Robert Lewandowski are battling it out for the Torjägerkanone, with the crème de la crème of Bundesliga strikers on show at the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK. Aubameyang can equal a league record if he scores for the 11th home game in succession, and put the pressure on Lewandowski, whom he currently trails by one goal (22 to 23) in a prolific season. Indeed, combined they have scored more goals this season than every other Bundesliga club other than Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The title race
Guardiola is convinced that Der Klassiker will not determine the destiny of the Bundesliga title this season – win, lose or draw. "No matter what happens, the league title is not going to be decided until the final game of the season," he said. "The title won't be done and dusted if we win." Results on Matchday 24 nevertheless added a bit of spice to the title run-in and a Dortmund win, which would reduce the gap between the two sides to just two points, would set the stage for a dramatic final nine games of the season. "You wanted excitement – you're welcome!" added Guardiola.
Back to base
For Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski, Saturday's fixture is a return to their footballing roots. Both enjoyed the first major successes of their careers in Westphalia, helping Dortmund to back-to-back Bundesliga wins in 2011 and 2012, and a DFB Cup success in 2012. Götze swapped BVB for Bayern in 2013, before Lewandowski moved south one year later to bolster FCB's bid for subsequent Bundesliga crowns. Götze, 23, played 83 times in the Bundesliga for Borussia, scoring 22 goals. For Bayern, he has scored 20 in 66 appearances. Lewandowski's record for Bayern reads 40 goals in 54 games, after netting 74 in 131 matches for Dortmund.
The world will be watching
Over 81,300 fans will be packed into the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK this Saturday, but theirs will not be the only eyes glued to Der Klassiker. A global audience into the millions will tune in with the fixture being broadcast live in over 200 territories (click here to find your local broadcaster). Saturday's show-stopper has long since established its place as one of the most eagerly-anticipated games on the football calendar, and rarely has it failed to live up to expectations. With the destiny of the 2016 Bundesliga title largely to be determined by the outcome of this latest meeting, it is an event nobody will want to miss.