Bundesliga: Borussia Dortmund aim to close gap on leaders Bayern Munich in potential title decider
The defending champions travel to the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday with a four-point lead over their rivals.by AFP
Bayern Munich aim to continue the Bundesliga’s current trend of teams winning on the road behind closed doors when they face Borussia Dortmund in a potential title decider on Tuesday.
Leaders Bayern arrive at second-placed Dortmund four points clear and on course for an eighth straight title.
“For us this is a very decisive week,” insisted Bayern forward Thomas Muller.
“We’ve clearly set ourselves the goal of three victories this week and taking a giant step forward” towards the league title.
Bayern warmed-up by beating Eintracht Frankfurt 5-2 at the weekend and also host relegation-threatened Fortuna Duesseldorf this Saturday.
Since the Bundesliga resumed ten days ago, behind locked doors due to the coronavirus, home advantage has counted for little with 10 of the 18 games played won by the away team.
Bayern and Dortmund are among only three clubs – the other being Hertha Berlin who thrashed neighbours FC Union 4-0 on Friday – to have won at home since the restart.
Hansi Flick’s Bayern are eager to continue the trend and again assert their dominance over Dortmund, who they routed 4-0 in Munich last November.
“We’re looking forward to Tuesday - I hope that we can show what makes us strong and leave Dortmund’s stadium with a smile,” added Muller.
Signal Iduna Park would normally be packed with 82,000 fans for a visit of Bayern, but the terraces will remain empty on Tuesday.
“It will still be a hard day’s work,” Muller added.
“We’re marching, Dortmund is marching.”
Dortmund winger Raphael Guerreiro is in form with three goals in his last two games and was on the scoresheet in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Wolfsburg.
The Portugal star also netted twice in the 4-0 rout of arch-rivals Schalke the previous weekend in the Ruhr derby.
Dortmund are waiting on the fitness of key defender Mats Hummels, who injured his Achilles’ tendon at Wolfsburg.
In the Bayern camp, midfielder Thiago Alcantara has a groin strain while centre-back Jerome Boateng picked up a leg knock on Saturday.
Having beaten Bayern 2-0 at home in the pre-season Super Cup match last August and 3-2 in the league in November 2018, Dortmund are eager to again send the Bavarians home disappointed.
“I hope we can get the next victory,” said Dortmund’s Swiss centre-back Manuel Akanji.
“Since I’ve been here, we’ve always lost to Bayern away, but won at home. I want to keep this series going.”
Tuesday’s showdown will also pit the league’s top-scorer Robert Lewandowski, 31, who has scored 27 goals in 25 games for Bayern, against his former club.
For the hosts, Norwegian sensation Erling Braut Haaland, 19, has scored ten goals in as many league games since joining Dortmund in January from Salzburg.
Haaland and Lewandowski have exactly the same record - 41 goals from 35 games in all competitions this season.
England winger Jadon Sancho came off the bench to set up Achrif Hakimi for the second goal in Wolfsburg.
Dortmund coach Lucien Favre has hinted the 20-year-old could start against Bayern.
On Wednesday, third-placed RB Leipzig host Hertha Berlin in the day’s key game.
Germany striker Timo Werner warmed up with a hat-trick in Sunday’s 5-0 thumping of Mainz.
He had also scored a hat-trick in an 8-0 mauling of Mainz last November.
Borussia Dortmund v Bayern München (1630 GMT), Bayer Leverkusen v VfL Wolfsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Werder Bremen v Bor. Moenchengladbach (1830 GMT)
RB Leipzig v Hertha Berlin (1630 GMT), Hoffenheim v Cologne, Fortuna Duesseldorf v Schalke 04, Augsburg v Paderborn, Union Berlin v Mainz 05 (1830 GMT)