BERLIN, Germany, Nov 18 – Borussia Dortmund will be seeking to cut champions Bayern Munich’s lead at the top of the Bundesliga when Signal Iduna Park host one of the world’s fiercely contested derbies on Friday night.
The two teams are the dominant forces in German football, and they are going head to head in the 114th edition of Der Klassiker.
A win by the home side will cut Bayern’s lead at the top of the table to just three points.
The defending champions are first on 24 points, leading from upstarts RB Leipzig only on goal difference. Another team taking the league by storm, Hoffenheim, are third, two points behind the leading duo. Dortmund are currently fifth on 18 points.
In the most recent Klassiker, Bayern were victorious in Dortmund in the DFL Supercup, lifting the trophy after a 2-0 win. They also lead the overall statistics with 58 victories, compared to Dortmund’s 28.
The Bavarians go into Saturday’s match on the back of an unbeaten run of four games against their rivals.
But if history favours Bayern, recent form is on Dortmund’s side. In their last league outing, a rampant Pierre Emerick Aubameyang scored four goals as they trounced their hapless opponents Hamburg 5-2.
Their form in the Champions League has been similarly impressive, winning back-to-back matches against Sporting Lisbon which sees them lead Group F from defending champions Real Madrid.
They have been praised by no less a player than the great Real star Cristiano Ronaldo,
“They are not only a very good team with great fans, they also have an excellent coach in Thomas Tuchel. They are as strong as Bayern Munich. The difference, however, is that the Dortmund side is much younger and therefore lacks the experience of Bayern.
“Bayern also have a bigger squad, which allows them to rotate and they can retain their strength throughout the season.”
Carlo Ancelotti’s side though have drawn three of their last five league matches and were beaten by Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. They are, however, unbeaten in the Bundesliga after 10 games.
Captain Philipp Lahm is looking forward to Saturday. “It is a very important game. All of Germany is looking forward to the game. The two best teams from the last few years are facing each other and players, as much as fans, look forward to the match.” Salmon Kalou’s fourth place H.
The Ivory Coast forward, who appeared 32 times for the capital-based club last season, had only featured twice before match day 10. However, he justified his selection by scoring all three goals in the victory over Ibrahima Traore‘s Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend and should retain his position in the starting line-up.
Hertha have had an impressive start to the season, winning six of their opening 10 fixtures. In contrast, opponents Augsburg are struggling having only won one of their last five matches.
Also in action are Ghanaian international Abdul Rahman’s Schalke 04, who make the trip to VFL Wolfsburg, with both sides separated by just two points in the table.
Left-back Rahman, who was part of the Black Stars’ 2-0 defeat to Egypt on Sunday, has made nine appearances this season since making his move from Premier League side Chelsea during the summer.
The ‘Royal Blues’ have managed to turn their season around, after losing all five of their opening Bundesliga fixtures. Since then, they have not been beaten and are on a run of three wins and two draws.
The Bundesliga matches will be live on StarTimes.
In Italy, the footballing world’s attention will be on Milan as AC Milan host Internazionale in the 217th Derby della Madonnina at the San Siro tomorrow.
Milan have started the season in fine form and after just one defeat in their last nine games, they sit pretty in third in the Serie A table with 25 points.
But things haven’t been so rosy on the blue side of town, with Inter lying six places and eight points lower than their rivals in ninth. A troublesome start included three straight defeats in October and the eventual sacking of boss Frank de Boer.
But the Nerazzurri do have the head-to-head advantage on their side, winning 77 of the previous derbies – AC triumphing 75 times with 64 stalemates.
Milan midfielder Matias Fernandez was in a buoyant mood ahead of the inner-city meeting. The diminutive 30-year-old playmaker has played in the famous Super Clasico in Chile when representing his hometown club Colo Colo against Club Universidad de Chile but he believes the Derby della Madonnina is on another level.
“I have lived so many derbies in my home country of Chile, but the Milan derby at San Siro will be something else,” said the Fiorentina loanee.
“Two big teams fighting until the death. It will be a very important match and we must train ourselves to the fullest and make sure we improve match by match.”
Vincenzo Montella’s Rossoneri will be looking for another resounding derby victory on home soil after beating Inter 3-0 at the end of January. That was the first derby Milan’s young goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma played.
Since then, the phenomenal start to his career has continued and on Wednesday the 17-year-old played the entire second half for Italy against Germany, shutting out the world champions.
For Inter’s manager the derby will be the baptism of fire. Stefano Pioli is the new man in charge after de Boer’s dismissal and he wants to get off to a positive start in the most difficult of opening fixtures to restore the club to their former glory in the match to be aired live on StarTimes.
“We are facing major work but we have the quality to do well,” he said.
“The current situation sees Inter in a position where it does not belong and now all of our concentration and efforts will be geared towards bringing it back to where it deserves to be.”
Popular with African football fans
Sports Channels Director of StarTimes, Myke Mwai Mugo, said the game is bound to be extremely popular with African football fans.
“Milan and Inter are global brands and well known throughout Africa and the world,” he said, adding: “I am delighted that we will be broadcasting such a fantastic game this weekend and I have no doubt it will live it to its billing.
“I am particularly pleased that the game falls within our Open Week. During this week, all StarTimes subscribers will have free access not only to the World Football Channel, but also to a whole host of other channels. This means that the match between AC Milan and Inter Milan can be seen live free in Africa.”
The game, which will be shown live on the World Football Channel (channel number: 254 on DTT platform and 245 on DTH platform) of StarTimes at 19:45GMT on Sunday, is one of 10 Serie A matches that StarTimes subscribers will be able to see this weekend.
“The Milan derby is not the only highlight. Mo Salah scored for Egypt on the international break and the tricky winger has been in dazzling form for Roma this season too. I can see him getting on the scoresheet this weekend again,” Mugo said.
Salah will be looking to continue his stellar form in front of goal this term after netting a penalty for the Pharaohs in World Cup qualifying against Ghana. He has already bagged eight in 11 Serie A matches and will be keen to add to his ever-growing tally when the Giallorossi travel to Atalanta this weekend.