Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann said on Friday his team needs to show “a more controlled game” to beat opponent Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.
Munich travels to Dortmund having won the last nine clashes between the two clubs, but Nagelsmann said Dortmund under manager Edin Terzic has shed the unpredictability of recent years.
“There’s a lot of reporting about Dortmund showing ‘fluctuating performances’ within recent games. I don’t think it’s that dramatic,” Nagelsmann said.
“I think they’re having a good season and will be a top opponent tomorrow.”
Bayern and Dortmund go into the clash level on 15 points in third and fourth places, respectively. It is the first time in 13 years that one of the teams is not in the top spot when it met the other.
In addition to Munich’s recent dominance in the fixture, ‘Der Klassiker’ has also been a rich source of goals.
Only once in the past 12 matches between the sides has fewer than four goals been scored, which is perhaps a testament to the quality of the sides’ strikers in recent years - Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland - both of which have now departed.
While Bayern Munich has a league-high 23 goals, Dortmund’s total of 11 goals is among the lowest in the league, showing it is struggling more than its Bavarian rival with the departure of its top goal scorer.
Nagelsmann however said the hole left by the big Norwegian makes Dortmund less predictable.
“I’m not sure yet who will play up front,” Nagelsmann said.
“They create a lot of ‘give and go’ situations with a lot of good footballers who sprint behind the lines and receive good passes.
“They are a very good team... especially when they defend deeply - it always creates a strong danger when they counter.”
Two fixtures of recent clashes - Bayern’s Thomas Mueller and Dortmund captain Marco Reus - have been ruled out of the clash, with illness and injury respectively.
Bayern will however be boosted by the return of French winger Kingsley Coman, while Dortmund welcomes back Mats Hummels, Gregor Kobel, Marius Wolf and Gio Reyna.