Bayern Munich host Borussia Dortmund in German Cup Klassiker | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 19.12.2017
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Bayern Munich host Borussia Dortmund in German Cup Klassiker

It's usually a semifinal or a final but, this year, either Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund will be out of the German Cup before the last eight. Both clubs are looking to end turbulent years on a high.

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Bayern take on Dortmund in mouth-watering German Cup clash

German football fans have one final treat to look forward to before the winter break as league leaders Bayern Munich host cup holders Borussia Dortmund in the third round of the German Cup on Wednesday night, their seventh meeting in the competition in seven seasons.

Three times in the last six years, what's become known in Germany as Der Klassiker has provided the perfect end-of-season climax as the two sides met in the cup final in Berlin, Dortmund winning one and Bayern two. They've met in the semifinal twice as well, with Dortmund winning both.

This time around, the clash comes at a much earlier stage but still provides a fitting climax to the calendar year. In the words of Bayern – and former BVB – defender Mats Hummels, it is "clearly the biggest game in Germany."

Heynckes: 'No clear favorite'

Both clubs have endured rollercoaster seasons so far. Both have survived bad spells and both have already changed their coach; Carlo Ancelotti being replaced at Bayern by the returning treble-winner Jupp Heynckes back in October and Dortmund replacing Peter Bosz with former Cologne coach Peter Stöger two weeks ago.

In Munich, Heynckes has steadied the ship and, despite ending the first half of the Bundesliga season with three less-than-convincing 1-0 wins, Bayern go into the winter break 11 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga. In Dortmund, Stöger has halted an eight-game winless run with two straight victories, leaving the Black and Yellows in third place.

Stöger's predecessor, Peter Bosz, got Dortmund this far in the cup by overcoming sixth-tier Rielasingen and third-tier Magdeburg, the 5-0 win over the latter standing out as the only win in a 13-game winless run in all competitions which led to the Dutchman's sacking.

Bayern have had a tougher run, beating RasenBallsport Leipzig on penalties in the last round after seeing off third-tier Chemnitz in the first, and coach Heynckes isn't expecting things to get any easier.

"In a cup game like this, I wouldn"t say there is a clear favorite," the 72-year-old told the prematch press conference on Tuesday. "Dortmund have shown that they can surpass themselves and that they should be taken seriously. They've ended their negative run, have now won two games in a row and come to the Allianz Arena full of confidence. But football writes its own stories."

Fußball Bundesliga Borussia Dortmund - FC Bayern (picture-alliance/dpa/I. Fassbender)

Bayern came out on top in the last edition of Der Klassiker, beating BVB 3-1 in their Bundesliga contest in Dortmund in early November

Robben out, doubts over Aubameyang

Heynckes confirmed that Der Klassiker comes too early for attacker Arjen Robben who is still recovering from a thigh injury sustained against Anderlecht in the Champions League, while longer-term absentees Thiago Alcantara and Manuel Neuer will also miss out.

As for Dortmund, coach Stöger refused to confirm whether or not leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would be fit after slight muscle problems kept the Gabonese striker out of training. Elsewhere, the BVB treatment room remains full with Gonzalo Castro, Marco Reus, Mario Götze, Maximilian Philipp and Lukasz Piszczek all unavailable. Nevertheless, center back Sokratis is confident that Dortmund's recent cup successes against Bayern will stand them in good stead.

"We've given a really good account of ourselves in cup games against Bayern in the last two seasons," the Greek defender said, referring to Dortmund's semifinal victories in 2015 and 2017.

Midfielder Julian Weigl, who featured in last season's dramatic 3-2 win added: "We know we can win there even if Bayern are 2-1 up. We know that we'll get our chance and we feel ready."

Wednesday's other third-round ties:

Earlier in the evening, there is the small matter of two all-Bundesliga clashes. Having confirmed that Florian Kohfeldt will remain coach until at least the end of the season, Werder Bremen host a resurgent SC Freiburg who are unbeaten in five and have scored seven goals in their last two away games (a 4-3 win vs. Cologne and a 3-3 draw against Augsburg).

Simultaneously, high-flying Rhineland neighbors Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen meet at Borussia Park. With neither side in European competition this season, both will have their sights set on a good cup run, but only one can progress.

Elsewhere, second-division Heidenheim will be hoping for a cup upset when they face Bundesliga opposition for the first time. They welcome last season's finalists Eintracht Frankfurt.

The draw for the quarterfinals is to be held on January 7.

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