Reus eyes comeback in Bayern showdown
MARCO REUS’ possible comeback as well as Mario Goetze and Mats Hummels facing their former clubs are just some of the highlights around the latest Bundesliga duel between German top clubs Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich tomorrow.
And for extra spice, Munich could find themselves dethroned at the top of the table for the first time in 14 months at the final whistle – by impressive newcomers RB Leipzig.
Bayern have ranked constantly first since Sept 22, 2015, winning a record fourth straight title in May and also ahead from the outset in the current campaign.
But the transition from Pep Guardiola to new coach Carlo Ancelotti has not been quite as smooth as expected although they have won seven of their unbeaten 10 games so far.
That has however been matched by Leipzig who are hated by many traditionalists because of the heavy backing by Austrian energy drink firm Red Bull but have played impressive football thus far to match Bayern on 24 points.
Remaining unbeaten after Friday’s game at Bayer Leverkusen would make Leipzig the best-ever top flight team after promotion, and put them top for at least 22 hours.
Dortmund meanwhile are fifth, six points behind Bayern, after ending a spell of four games without victory before the international break.
They now aim to close the gap to three points with victory, and the return of Reus, who has not played since the German Cup final in May (against Bayern) and missed Euro 2016 owing to a nagging groin injury, could boost their morale.
Reus is not expected to start but could see a few minutes of action as coach Thomas Tuchel said recently: “It is delight to watch Marco in training.”
Goetze meanwhile will have something to prove after three mainly unsuccessful years at Bayern after his 2013 move from Dortmund, and like him midfielder Sebastian Rode also left Bayern for Dortmund in summer.
Germany centre-back Hummels meanwhile went the other way as he rejoined his childhood side Bayern after eight years in Dortmund, and will likely face a hostile reception from the majority of the 80,000 fans in the stadium.
“Football is emotional and I would have no problem if it is directed against me,” he told the Bild am Sonntag paper.
Hummels and the whole Bayern camp are well aware what is at stake for them in the German ‘Clasico’ which also gets worldwide attention.
“It is a very important game. Many teams including Dortmund would be very close to us again,” he warned.
Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said: “We need a top performance, and the players know it.”
The game also pits league joint top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored four of his 11 goals in the last game against SV Hamburg, against last season’s best marksman Robert Lewandowski, who left Dortmund for Munich two years ago.
Leipzig meanwhile aim to continue their fairytale story in Leverkusen, for which coach Ralph Hasenhuettl is upbeat but at the same time not getting carried away.
“We definitely want to take something back home and remain unbeaten,” he said.
If we get points the standings will show it. But it is no issue for us, neither to motivate the team nor to put pressure on ourselves.”
The other games features an explosive Rhine derby between struggling Borussia Moenchengladbach and sixth-placed Cologne.
Unbeaten Hoffenheim aim to follow up on their 1-1 draw at Bayern with victory against Hamburg, Darmstadt vs second-last Ingolstadt, who have a new coach in Maik Walpurgis, Wolfsburg vs Schalke, Mainz vs Freiburg, Augsburg vs Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen vs Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday. – dpa