Featuring an array of footballing superheroes whose on-field special powers are worthy of a Marvel Comics movie, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen’s Bundesliga battle this weekend looks set to be out of this world.
It’s not difficult to imagine the game’s famed three amigos, Marco Reus, Mario Götze and Andre Schürrle landing on the Signal Iduna Park pitch on Saturday, black-yellow capes fluttering in the spring breeze, eye masks on to guard their respective identities. On the opposing side, Leverkusen’s X-Men line-up featuring the Fantastic Four of Leon Bailey, Julian Brandt, Kai Havertz and Kevin Volland. Once the referee signals the start of this inter-planetary match-up, expect special effects aplenty.
Watch: Leverkusen's special free-kick challenge!
The last time these teams met under the gaze of the imposing Yellow Wall, Leverkusen not only lost the battle, they were practically run out of the solar system. A 6-2 win for BVB in 2017 just happened to fall on poor Bernd Leno’s 25th birthday, the goalkeeper shipping more Bundesliga goals on his special day than in any previous game.
And boy were there consequences for B04’s heaviest loss in six years, just ask former coach Roger Schmidt, who lost his job the following day.
Yet times have changed and with the planets aligning for Leverkusen under former Dortmund European Cup-winning striker Heiko Herrlich – who faces his former side for the second time in a coaching capacity – Saturday’s visitors currently hold the slimmest of advantages [on goal difference] over their opponents in the the top four of the standings.
Watch: Check out this selection of BVB vs. B04 goals!
The promised land of the UEFA Champions League awaits, but with four games remaining, nothing is yet guaranteed for the division’s third- and fourth-placed teams. What can almost be guaranteed at the Westfalenstadion this weekend, however, are goals.
The last time this fixture produced a 0-0 in Dortmund was in 1986! In fact, in the previous eight meetings between the sides, there has always been a winner, while the losing team in that run has only ever failed to score on one occasion.
Visiting tactician Herrlich will look to channel his inner Professor X in order to place the perfect tactical plan into the minds of his players in the hopes of improving Leverkusen’s recent record against Dortmund, which shows just one win in six games. Overall, Die Werkself have suffered more reverses at the home of BVB (19) than against any other team, while Dortmund can boast three wins in their last five matches with Bayer.
Could it be a case of BVB holding Leverkusen Kryptonite in a secret underground chamber below Signal Iduna Park? And if so, how would Dortmund’s masterminds get hold of such a devastating element? The prime suspects in any such fictional scenario would surely be Schürrle, Ömer Toprak and Gonzalo Castro, who between them chalked up a combined total of 505 Bundesliga appearances in the colours of their weekend opponents.
But that’s where Bailey [nine goals, six assists], Brandt [eight goals, five assists] and Havertz [three goals, nine assists] come to the fore, Leverkusen’s Guardians of the Galaxy immune to any such vulnerabilities, supernatural or otherwise.
Watch: A tactical look at Leon Bailey ...
A galaxy of stars ready to thwart them on the opposing side, this is a game that could be catalogued among the Bundesliga greats. So choose your side, settle back and soak up the sumptuous havoc that will be hoisted upon us by these extra-terrestrial talents.