More than pride on line in Bayern-Dortmund clash

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Berlin, Mar. 30: Even though both sides are in the shadow of Xabi Alonso’s unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen, there is still plenty to play for in Saturday’s Bayern Munich-Borussia Dortmund clash.

With a 10-point lead with eight games to play, Leverkusen are on course for a maiden Bundesliga crown.

Second-placed Bayern could be as many as 13 points behind at kick-off, should Leverkusen win at home against Hoffenheim earlier on Saturday.

A Leverkusen title would mark the first time since 2009, and just the fifth time in the past three decades, that neither Bayern nor Dortmund has finished atop the table.

Saturday’s match between the traditional powers remains crucial for both sides.

Bayern risk a first loss at home to their biggest domestic rivals since 2014.

They will also want to keep up their momentum ahead of a visit to Arsenal in the Champions League quarter finals in early April, the last piece of silverware the trophy-hungry club can reasonably expect this season.

While pride may be at stake for Bayern, fourth-placed Dortmund are in danger of missing the Champions League next season, with RB Leipzig one point behind.

For a club which relies heavily on Champions League income, missing out on the top four could have huge ramifications for Dortmund.

Former Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said fireworks were guaranteed on Saturday.

“A rivalry has risen between Dortmund and Bayern. It’s the Bundesliga, it’s the match of the round on Saturday,” Lahm told AFP. “A lot is at stake, especially for Dortmund, because the Champions League is the minimal goal they want to achieve.”

Lahm welcomed Leverkusen’s challenge, saying “it’s very, very important that the Bundesliga is exciting again and that someone can push or even take over Bayern.” In a stellar 659-game career, Lahm faced Dortmund more than any other opponent. He captained Bayern to a 2-1 win over their rivals in the 2013 Champions League final.

Since that match, Bayern have won 23 of 32 games between the clubs. Bayern legend Lothar Matthaeus told AFP that he backed his former side to continue their recent dominance.

“The title race is over for Bayern Munich. This game is more important for Borussia Dortmund, but Bayern’s DNA is to win each and every game -- and they’ll do it again.”

One to watch: Harry Kane 

Having shaken off an ankle injury which kept him out of England’s March friendlies, Harry Kane is fit and ready to take on Dortmund.

In his first ‘Klassiker’ appearance in November, Kane scored a hat-trick to demolish the home side.

Kane has 31 goals in 26 league games this season.

Dortmund manager Edin Terzic praised the striker on Thursday, telling reporters “Harry Kane has an outstanding tally in his first Bayern season.

“He’s extremely important for them in attack as we saw first hand. He has scored as many goals as our top three goalscorers put together.” (AFP)

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