Some are saying this Saturday’s version of Die Klassiker won’t have a lot of lustre. Bayern Munich has a 10-point lead in the Bundesliga table, is without several key players, and is facing a Borussia Dortmund team further down the table than is usually the case.
Even BVB’s Mats Hummels claimed that it won’t be “a season highlight” for him or his 10th place side, still concerned a little with relegation despite now being close to fifth than 16th.
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But Bayern is giving lip service to the test at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion, and Manuel Neuer is prepping for an emotive match.
“We benchmark ourselves against the best. This fixture always feels like a final,” said Manuel Neuer on Thursday… “Everyone looks forward to this match, there’s always a fantastic atmosphere at the stadium. And it’s been comfortably the biggest game in German football in recent years.”
And Mario Gotze is ready to face his old mates:
“Let’s see what happens, but I don’t think much will have changed,” said the 22-year-old, as the reaction of the Dortmund faithful has been nothing short of hostile so far. It’s not a problem, the player insisted: “You have to live with it. I’ve already been through it a couple of times. It’s normal.”
The Bavarians will be without Arjen Robben, David Alaba, Javi Martínez and Franck Ribéry for the match.
Dortmund’s supporters should hope Hummels’ approach is more indicative of his recently-speculative nature than a sign of their team’s motivations for Saturday. A win could continue their major turnaround from a near season-long relegation battle, and launch them into within shouting distance of European qualification for 2015/16.