The 100th meeting of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund is one of the most significant, with the title in the balance. Some of DW's Bundesliga writers put their necks on the line with predictions for Saturday's game.
After a draw with Freiburg that cast fresh doubt on their quest to win a seventh straight Bundesliga title, Bayern Munich welcome Borussia Dortmund to the Allianz Arena with a two point deficit. A repeat of Dortmund's 3-2 win in the first meeting of the sides this season would leave Bayern needing to make up five points in six games and BVB likely to win their first title since 2012. Here's how our writers think it will go.
Michael Da Silva - Returning Reus to inspire Dortmund
Dortmund have struggled when Marco Reus is not there, as seen only last week when they limped over the line with two late goals against Wolfsburg. Reus is not only a goal threat himself, but brings the best out of Jadon Sancho, and that attacking axis will be key for Dortmund.
While Bayern have done well to even make it into a title race, Dortmund's ceiling has been higher than Bayern's all season and they are more than capable of pulling a big performance out of the bag on the big night. Dortmund are vulnerable at the back, but could welcome back Lukasz Piszczek, which would be huge boost. The Pole has been missed since getting injured in February.
Going out of the Champions League early seems to have knocked Bayern's confidence, and it's worth noting that Sven Ulreich has conceded five goals in the two games he has been deputizing for the injured Manuel Neuer in goal for Bayern. Should he play, his confidence won't be high, and neither will Bayern's.
Prediction: Bayern 1-3 Dortmund
Matt Pearson - Weakness out wide will cost Dortmund
Although few in the Dortmund camp will say it out loud, Lucien Favre and his players must know this is their chance, not just for this season, but perhaps for the foreseeable future, with Bayern ramping up their squad overhaul even before 2018-19 has ended.
The freedom and verve of BVB's early season displays have been replaced with nervy wins, often secured in the dying moments of games and it's difficult to see that as sustainable. While Bayern have had their own problems in the last week, it just feels like their experience might prove critical. The injury problems that leave Dortmund desperately short at fullback — even if he returns Piszczek can't possibly be match fit — could well be exposed by Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry and/or Franck Ribery and will prove decisive on Saturday.
Prediction: Bayern 2-1 Dortmund
Jonathan Harding - Dortmund squad too thin
With neither side looking particularly strong defensively, this will be as goal rich as the first fixture. At home, and knowing in some respects the pressure is off them, Bayern will have the edge.
This is a chance for Dortmund to open a five point gap — the kind of cushion that might allow for a sloppy draw or loss somewhere else — and potentially seal a title they might not otherwise see for a while if Bayern's transfer work is considered.
This Dortmund side is young and only recently put together. Bayern might be creaking and be under the stewardship of a new head coach, but so many players have been here before. They know what is needed, and that will prove the difference on Saturday and down the stretch.
Whatever the result, with six games left after this, the title will likely not be decided by the outcome of this game. Both teams have shown too often this season that they are capable of dropping points unexpectedly. But for Dortmund, it's a chance to land the rarest of things — a psychological blow to Bayern's title hopes.
Prediction: Bayern 3-2 Dortmund
Davis VanOpdorp - Valuable away point for BVB
No, Dortmund are not in top form. Yes, their squad depth, especially in defense, is very thin. But the Bundesliga leaders have a very good chance of getting at least a point from Saturday's Klassiker.
To assume Bayern are going to rise to the occasion in the Allianz Arena is risky based on recent results. They put in a drab performance in their second leg against Liverpool in the Champions League last 16 — a match where there was everything to play for. On Wednesday, they were nearly eliminated by second-tier side Heidenheim in the German Cup on their own turf.
Dortmund's potent attack has kept them competitive in many games this season, especially when Marco Reus is in the fold. Just look at the reverse fixture: BVB turned a 2-1 second-half deficit into a 3-2 win. Even if they fall behind in Munich, they are more than capable of at least leveling the score.
They know how important this game is to their season. A draw may seem anti-climatic in this tightly contested title race, but such a result would certainly feel like a victory for Dortmund in the bigger picture.
Prediction: Bayern 2-2 Dortmund