FC Bayern and Borussia Dortmund have crossed swords in 94 Bundesliga fixtures so far, and Bayern fans have fond memories
of quite a few of the meetings. Saturday marks the next highlight for the German footballing family as the teams who have won all seven of the last German championship titles face off in Dortmund (Live in English from 18.30 CET in our Live Ticker and FCBayern.tv Web Radio
"It's an important match," declared Philipp Lahm. "The German footballing family are looking forward to a top clash, a meeting between the two best teams of the last few years. Players and fans alike are looking forward to it." Manuel Neuer too is fired up for the duel with last season's Bundesliga runners-up, as are his team-mates: "Everyone gives it everything and wants to play, you can tell from training," according to the World's Best Goalkeeper. "The matches have always been tight. We're in for fierce contest in Dortmund."
Fortunately, Carlo Ancelotti has Franck Ribéry at his disposal again. The Frenchman was sidelined with a thigh injury for the last eight matches, but has been featuring in the squad programme for almost two weeks now. "He's ready," the Bayern coach declared before the final training session, where Ancelotti will observe Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa in particular. The FCB duo only returned from international duty on Thursday. "They're tired," said the Italian, unwilling to "take any risks." Ancelotti is definitely without Arjen Robben ("He still has slight problems"), Javi Martínez and Kingsley Coman.'Otherwise we won't win'
Ancelotti has fond memories of Dortmund. He won his first official title as Bayern coach at Signal Iduna Park, where the Bavarians beat the Ruhr Valley outfit 2-0 in the Supercup, the Italian's first competitive fixture in August. However, the pre-season showdown will have no impact on the next Bundesliga encounter, according to Ancelotti: "It's going to be a different match tomorrow." Lahm recalled the last meeting: "We saw in the Supercup how tight it is. We need a top performance!"
Neuer is in no doubt as to the significance of the prestige duel: "Dortmund are our number one competitors for the championship title. It's crucial not to lose." In case of a disappointing result the Bavarians would only be three points clear of the Black and Yellows, cautioned Lahm: "The team have been warned." Ancelotti demanded commitment: "We have to give it 100 percent on Saturday, otherwise we won't win."
Borussia coach Thomas Tuchel had been looking forward to Marco Reus's comeback, but the forward misses out with a heel problem. "We don't want to take any risks after a very long injury spell," the club announced on Friday. The Germany international made his last appearance in the cup final in Berlin 182 days ago, when FC Bayern prevailed on penalties. "He's a fantastic player," praised Ancelotti, "but Dortmund have other options." However, Tuchel is also without Sven Bender, Eric Durm, Neven Subotic and former FCB pro Sebastian Rode, with Raphael Guerreiro rated doubtful.