Strik­ers square off as Dort­mund host Bay­ern

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Robert Le­wandowski be­gan the sea­son with a hat trick, Pier­reEm­er­ick Aubameyang had a brace. From round one, the two most pro­lific Bun­desliga strik­ers have been seek­ing to outdo each other.

They picked up right where they left off - Le­wandowski topped the Bun­desliga last sea­son with 30 goals and helped Bay­ern win an un­prece­dented fourth con­sec­u­tive ti­tle. Aubameyang fin­ished with 25 goals for Borus­sia Dort­mund.

They will square off again on tomorrow, when Dort­mund hosts Bay­ern in one of the high­light matches of the sea­son that some are call­ing the Bun­desliga “clas­sico,” bor­row­ing its name from the Real Madrid-Barcelona show­downs in Spain.

“Play­ing in Dort­mund is the best game in the Bun­desliga,” Bay­ern for­ward Thomas Mueller said. “It’s the tough­est match to win.”

Le­wandowski and Aubameyang ap­pear friendly, al­though they could not be more dif­fer­ent, at least in looks. The clean-cut Le­wandowski is all about un­der­state­ment, while the flam­boy­ant Aubameyang is clearly en­joy­ing money and fame, with his clothes at­tract­ing as many head­lines as his goals. They swap friendly mes­sages on Twit­ter and em­brace warmly be­fore matches. On the pitch, they share the same hunger for goals.

The two played to­gether on the 2013-14 Dort­mund squad and com­bined for 31 goals, be­fore Le­wandowski moved to Bay­ern. Since then, Le­wandowski has scored four goals against his old team and is un­beaten in the league. In 204 Bun­desliga matches, he has 128 goals.

Aubameyang, one of the speed­i­est for­wards in the Bun­desliga, has 65 goals in 105 matches.

Be­fore the in­ter­na­tional break, Aubameyang trumped Le­wandowski by scor­ing four goals against Ham­burg for a share of the league lead with 11 goals. Le­wandowski has seven.

The huge per­for­mance came after Aubameyang had been sus­pended by his club for an unau­tho­rized pri­vate trip to Milan be­fore a Cham­pi­ons League match against Sport­ing. Aubameyang sat out that match and then re­turned in a big way, em­brac­ing with coach Thomas Tuchel after scor­ing.

The match pro­vides many story lines: the re­turn of de­fender Mats Hum­mels to Dort­mund for the first time since his move to Bay­ern; the first match of Mario Goetze against Bay­ern since his re­turn to Dort­mund after three un­re­mark­able sea­sons in Mu­nich; Bay­ern’s Re­nato Sanches pos­si­bly play­ing against Raphael Guer­reiro, his team­mate from Por­tu­gal’s squad that won the European Cham­pi­onship in France this sum­mer.

Bay­ern drew its last match, against Hof­fen­heim, and has been caught on points by new­comer Leipzig.

Bay­ern coach Carlo Ancelotti is hop­ing to have winger Franck Ribery back from in­jury, while Tuchel can count again on for­ward Marco Reuss, who has been out since May with a groin in­jury.

After sign­ing eight new play­ers and re­leas­ing five, Dort­mund was al­ways go­ing to be in a tran­si­tion sea­son with a young squad. It can rely on Aubameyang’s goals and has scored a league-high 25 but the de­fense has been in­con­sis­tent. Dort­mund, how­ever, is un­beaten in 26 home matches.

A Bay­ern de­feat would not only be a loss of pres­tige, but could also mean fall­ing be­hind surg­ing Leipzig, which has won five straight.

The game be­tween B. Dort­mund and Bay­ern Mu­nich al­ways proves to be in­ter­est­ing Photo: AP

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