Who will come out on top in Der Klassiker's key confrontations?
Who will come out on top in Der Klassiker's key confrontations?

Der Klassiker: key duels

Bundesliga heavyweights Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München are set to face off in what is certain to be another closely contested encounter to enthral football purists the world over.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang vs. Mats Hummels

bundesliga.com looks at some of the key battles that may prove crucial to the outcome of the latest episode in the Der Klassiker saga.

Germany defender Mats Hummels won this battle the last time around, his astute tackling helping to keep his former side Dortmund – and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – at bay during Bayern's 2-0 Supercup victory at SIGNAL IDUNA PARK. The 27-year-old central defender has since made nine Bundesliga appearances, featuring in Bayern's five shutouts, as he eases back into life with the Bavarian giants...not that there will be anything easy about facing the division's leading sprinter on Saturday.

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Sokratis Papastathopoulos vs. Robert Lewandowski

The Polish goalscoring machine that is Robert Lewandowski has six fewer Bundesliga goals to his name compared to the same stage last season and he also failed to find the net when Bayern enjoyed a successful Supercup visit to the Westfalenstadion in August. Yet Lewy has form against the team with whom he plied his trade between 2010 and 2014, scoring six times in eight appearances against BVB as a Bayern player.

If there is one defender who knows all about Lewandowski, however, it's Sokratis Papastathopoulos. Ever since the pair came face-to-face for the first time when Greece lost 2-0 to Poland in a friendly in 2009, the duo have since crossed paths on a further eleven occasions at club level. Lewandowski has scored six times against the former SV Werder Bremen defender, a player with whom he shared the Dortmund dressing-room in 2013-14.

Julian Weigl vs. Xabi Alonso

The 21-year-old Julian Weigl famously snatched a Bundesliga milestone from his midfield counterpart Xabi Alonso at the end of last season. With 216 touches during Dortmund's 2-2 draw at home to 1. FC Köln, Weigl broke the Spaniard's previous Bundesliga best of 213 touches in a single game.

Watch: Borussia Dortmund's best moments in Der Klassiker

The two will once again look to take control of this encounter's midfield battle – having already stood on opposing sides during August's Supercup. Yet, for Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti, there are few who can outclass his man when it comes to controlling a game. "He is one of the best around at moving the ball quickly," the Italian tactician said of Alonso recently.

Weigl's 64 career games to date may dwarf that of Alonso's 686 while in terms of trophies, there is little competition with the Spain international a FIFA World Cup and multiple UEFA EURO and UEFA Champions League winner. But regardless of who boasts the greater trophy cabinet, Weigl’s young promise against Alonso's vast experience is certain to represent another fascinating facet in Saturday's Klassiker.

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Ousmane Dembele vs. Philipp Lahm

Philipp Lahm has dealt with many of the game's greats at this stage of his career, but in facing 19-year-old Ousmane Dembele, the FIFA World Cup winner with Germany knows he will need to be at his commanding best. Dembele's rapid progress continues to mirror his mesmerising pace down the flank, with the ex-Stade Rennais F.C. attacker having only made his senior bow a little over a year ago.

Watch: FC Bayern München's best moments in Der Klassiker

Last season's French Young Player of the Year has provided two goals and four assists for Thomas Tuchel's team this term but facing Lahm, knows opportunities to create will be scarce. Former Bayern coach Pep Guardiola described the recently-turned 33-year-old as, "the most intelligent footballer I have ever worked with," while Lahm himself admitted he continues to, "…want to be able to measure myself at the highest level." The young and hungry Dembele will certainly provide a telling test.

Arjen Robben vs. Marcel Schmelzer

The sight of these two Bundesliga stalwarts doing battle down the right flank has become a feature of recent Klassikers. Indeed, Arjen Robben and Marcel Schmelzer have faced each other 12 times at club level since the Dutchman's debut campaign in Germany in 2009/10. During those meetings, Robben has scored six times and he will be eager to get the better of his Dortmund rival when the teams meet again on Saturday.

Thiago Alcantara vs. Mario Götze

Another of those facing their former teams in Der Klassiker is Germany's 2014 FIFA World Cup winning hero Mario Götze and the 24-year-old's midfield trickery could provide a telling asset for Dortmund against Saturday's visitors. Götze swapped BVB for Bayern – where he scored 22 goals in 73 Bundesliga appearances – in 2013 but returned ahead of the current campaign and now believes he is beginning to find his groove. "I'm giving my absolute all in training and am beginning to access my full potential," he said.