Reus eyes come­back in Bay­ern show­down

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

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

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