Bundesliga star strikers Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski go head-to-head on Saturday when Borussia Dortmund host Bayern Munich in the top-of-the-table clash.
League leaders Bayern head to Signal Iduna Park just one point ahead of second-placed Dortmund.
Haaland, 21, who has scored 19 goals for Dortmund and Norway this season, proved a hip injury is behind him with a stunning volley in last weekend’s 3-1 win at Wolfsburg.
“He give us a lot of energy, he’s a player who can decide games,” Dortmund coach Marco Rose said of Haaland.
The same can be said for Bayern’s Lewandowski, who after scoring a record 41 Bundesliga goals in 2020/21, has backed that up this season with 25 goals for the club and five for Poland.
Bayern have won all of their last six games against Dortmund, but the Bavarians could be missing two key midfielders for the game which will be played in front of a reduced crowd of 15,000 due to increasing Covid-19 cases.
Joshua Kimmich is definitely out as he continues to quarantine at home after testing positive for coronavirus.
Leon Goretzka is doubtful after leavinf training Thursday with a hip problem.
Dortmund are also waiting on the fitness of England midfielder Jude Bellingham.
Germany legend Lothar Matthaeus said this week that Haaland’s return, after missing the five weeks, could see Dortmund end their poor run of results against Bayern.
“Dortmund has a chance because Haaland is back and Bayern is missing a leader in Joshua Kimmich,” Matthaeus told international media on Thursday.
Bayern are on course to win a tenth straight German league title next May.
Matthaeus is concerned Bayern will want to seize the chance to assert themselves over their nearest league rivals.
“If you are a mutual fan, you have to hope Dortmund don’t lose, because then Bayern will be four points clear,” he added.
Dortmund hope Haaland can inspire his team to a first win at home to Bayern for two years.
Most recently, Lewandowski scored twice last August in Bayern’s 3-1 victory at Dortmund to win the German Super Cup.
Previous to that, Haaland scored two quick goals last March to put Dortmund 2-0 up after just nine minutes in Munich, only for Lewandowski’s hat-trick to seal a 4-2 victory.
Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn insisted their forward is the “best striker in the world” and Lionel Messi, who beat Lewandowski to be named this year’s Ballon d’Or winner on Monday, agreed.
“Robert Lewandowski is a first-class striker,” Messi said on Monday, raving about “the ease with which he scores goals”.
One to watch: Florian Wirtz
Third-placed Bayer Leverkusen host bottom side Greuther Fuerth on Saturday with their 18-year-old midfielder continuing to shine after a hip problem.
After creating two goals in a 3-2 victory over Celtic to punch Leverkusen’s last 16 ticket in the Europa League, Wirtz opened the scoring in last Sunday’s 3-1 win at RB Leipzig.
Leverkusen’s decision – to give Wirtz a 10-day break in November to rest a hip problem – is paying off.
“That did him good. It was important to reduce his workload as much as possible,” explained Leverkusen head coach Gerardo Seoane.
65 – wins to Bayern in 129 games against Dortmund, who have won 34 times with 30 draws.
20 – goals Lewandowski has scored against his former club Dortmund in 14 Bundesliga matches since moving to Munich in 2014.
15 – goals Bayern has scored in winning all of their last six games against Dortmund, who have netted seven in reply.
Fixtures (all fixtures 1430GMT unless stated)
Union Berlin v RB Leipzig (1930)
Bayer Leverkusen v Greuther Fuerth, Hoffenheim v Eintracht Frankfurt, Mainz 05 v Wolfsburg, Augsburg v VfL Bochum, Arminia Bielefeld v Cologne, Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich (1730)
Stuttgart v Hertha Berlin, Borussia Moenchengladbach v Freiburg (1630)