They may appear to be playing nice right now but Thomas Tuchel and Pep Guardiola know how much is at stake when their teams face off on Saturday. The result of the match is likely to determine the title race.
The Bayern Munich coach described his side’s top-of-the-table clash at Borussia Dortmund as "one of the best matches in Europe" and his opposite number as "a top, top, top, top coach" in his pre-match press conference.
Tuchel later joined the mutual admiration society in his own press conference, describing the Spaniard as “probably the best” coach around.
But with five points separating the Bundesliga’s top-two following Bayern’s loss to Mainz on Wednesday and the hype surrounding the game reaching fever pitch, the coaches were also quick to acknowledge the importance of the clash.
Bayern's worrying defense
"It's not over with this Dortmund team,” Guardiola said, suggesting Dortmund could still compete for the title even if they lose tomorrow. “This is one of the best teams in Europe and the best Bundesliga rivals of all time, the best second (placed team at this stage of the season)".
Guardiola would not confirm whether fit-again attacking midfielder Mario Götze would feature in the evening game after five months out, pointing to Bayern’s array of attacking riches.
"He deserves to play but we have seven strikers. To play with five forwards is sometimes complicated," he said.
It’s at the other end of the pitch where Bayern have had problems of late, with the long term absence of Jerome Boateng proving tough to overcome.
Tuchel has all his armory available
For the hosts, Tuchel will be able to call on keeper Roman Bürki again after a bout of flu and is expected to bring back Marco Reus, Lukasz Piszczek and Marcel Schmelzer, after the trio were rested for the victory over Darmstadt. Only Sokratis Papastathopoulos is unavailable.
The Dortmund boss said his team’s packed schedule meant they only started analyzing their opponents yesterday, adding that they “cannot be fully prepared” for a side with as many options as Bayern.
The Bavarians hammered Dortmund 5-1 in Munich in October and Tuchel is wary of their title rivals this time around.
“It won't be the first time that Bayern give their best performance in a situation like this," he said. "We will have times (in the game) when we suffer, but in this phase we musn't lose our belief."
The Signal Iduna Park will also have a significant role to play, according to the BVB coach, who said the club could’ve sold another 200,000 tickets to the game. The fixture will be broadcast in 208 countries worldwide and Guardiola expects it to be a "good advertisement for German football."