Under-pressure Bayern takes on Dortmund in high pressure 'must-win' clash

Despite several key players sitting out this season-defining encounter, Niko Kovac's men will want to focus on tilting the race for the Bundesliga title back in their favour. Meanwhile, Dortmund eyes its first league win since 2014.

Bayern Munich

With title hopes on the line, Bayern Munich will look to play its cards right against Borussia Dortmund this weekend. (File photo)   -  Reuters

A bruised Bayern Munich is determined to tilt the Bundesliga title race back in its favour with a win over Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, coach Niko Kovac said.

Kovac's side has endured a tough week in the build-up to its title race showdown with Dortmund at the Allianz Arena this weekend.

It slipped two points behind its rival after being held to a draw in Freiburg last Saturday, and survived a scare against Heidenheim in a dramatic 5-4 cup win on Wednesday.

Club president Uli Hoeness has also heaped the pressure on Kovac and his players, saying that there can be “no excuses” in the “must-win” game against Dortmund.

READ | Title won't be decided in Munich, says Dortmund boss Favre

Kovac insisted that his players were up for the fight.

“Dortmund are having a great season, and it will be an interesting and evenly match game,” he said on Thursday.

“At the end of the day it will come down to who is better on the day. We want to win the game at all costs. The club, the fans, everyone wants to win the game.”

After it conceded four goals on Wednesday, Kovac said that his players had to show the right attitude against Dortmund.

“We need to start defending well again, as individuals and as a team. It's a question of attitude,” he said.

Bayern will potentially be without several key players for the season-defining clash. Arjen Robben and Alphonso Davies are both still injured, while David Alaba and Manuel Neuer did not train with the team on Thursday.

Kovac also admitted that striker Robert Lewandowski has also been fighting off illness in the last few days.

Dortmund keeping cool

Dortmund, meanwhile, has its own injury problems, and is hoping that Spanish striker Paco Alcacer, who scored twice in last week's win over Wolfsburg, will be fit for Saturday.

Alcacer picked up an arm injury against Wolfsburg, while left-back Achraf Hakimi also remains sidelined.

It will be relieved to welcome back captain Marco Reus, however, who missed the Wolfsburg game to be at the birth of his first child.

Dortmund midfielder and former Bayern star Mario Goetze warned his team mates that they would need to be at the top of their game if they were to beat Bayern.

“It will be important to play at our top level for 90 or 95 minutes, because little things will decide the game,” said Goetze. “We need to be brave and clever going forward.”

If Dortmund manages to win, it will be its first league victory in Munich since 2014. It will also see it establish a five-point lead at the top of the table.

Yet the Dortmund hierarchy warned that even a win would not decide the title race in its favour.

“Of course the game is a little bit special, but there are seven games to go. If we win, it isn't over. If we draw, it isn't over, and if Bayern win, everything is still open,” said coach Lucien Favre.

Sporting director Michael Zorc was equally equivocal.

“We are looking forward to the game and know what the situation is,” he said. “But that doesn't mean we need to do a triple somersault.”

 

Fixtures (GMT)

Friday: Mainz v Freiburg (1830)

Saturday: Schalke vs Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen vs Leipzig, Stuttgart vs Nuremberg, Hertha Berlin vs Duesseldorf, Wolfsburg vs Hanover (all 1330); Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund (1630)

Sunday: Augsburg vs Hoffenheim (1330), Borussia Moenchengladbach vs Bremen (1600)