With Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé out of the way, Bayern Munich can now switch focus to getting the edge on German league rival Borussia Dortmund.
The “Klassiker” between Bayern and Dortmund isn’t until April 1, but the two teams are even on points at the top of the Bundesliga and each has a potentially tricky game against a local rival this weekend.
Augsburg may not seem to be much of a challenge for a Bayern team which beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-0 on aggregate in the Champions League. However, Augsburg has won two of its last four games against Bayern and has a history of taking points off its larger Bavarian neighbor at inconvenient times.
Besides the morale boost of beating PSG, Wednesday’s game in Munich brought some encouraging signs for Bayern and coach Julian Nagelsmann ahead of Saturday’s game against Augsburg.
Josip Stanišić in particular did well in defense to contain Mbappé in place of the suspended Benjamin Pavard, but may be expected to give up his place against Augsburg.
Bayern’s depth was on show as Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry and recently injured Sadio Mané all made valuable contributions off the bench. Nagelsmann has said Mané is fully fit, so he could be in line for his first start since a leg injury caused him to miss last year’s World Cup.
For Dortmund, it’s a different story. A 10-game winning run to start 2023 helped the club to draw even on points with Bayern and dream of ending its rival’s unprecedented 10-season streak of German titles. That run came to a sudden end in Tuesday’s 2-0 loss at Chelsea, a result which eliminated Dortmund from the Champions League.
Dortmund has to bounce back in a heated local rivalry on Saturday at Schalke, which looked to be a sure bet for relegation a few weeks ago but is now on a six-game unbeaten run that gives it hope for survival.
A Ruhr derby is traditionally one of German soccer’s most anticipated games, but Schalke’s struggles in recent seasons have somewhat diminished the allure of the game. Still, Schalke’s stadium will be packed and will give Dortmund a hostile welcome.
Dortmund coach Edin Terzic will be without Julian Brandt after the forward went off after five minutes in the loss to Chelsea with a muscle fiber tear. He is also out of next week’s game against Cologne, Dortmund said Thursday.
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