Bayern Munich’s interim boss Hans-Dieter Flick faces the highly anticipated ‘Der Klassiker’ clash with Borussia Dortmund in only his second game in charge.
Flick was handed the reins after the sacking of Niko Kovac, who left the club following a heavy 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
The former assistant manager led Bayern to a 2-0 victory over Greek Super League side Olympiacos in the group stages of the Champions League this week.
Now the club turn their attention to one of the biggest matches of the Bundesliga season as Bayern prepare to host second-placed Dortmund, who sit two places above them in the table.
“We want to beat Dortmund,” Flick said at a pre-match press conference.
“It will be played at a high level, both teams have very good players. BVB have a lot of speed, we need to defend against and deal with that.
“The players are focused, they are so professional. They know how important this game is, they will give everything and are fired up for it.”
Flick would not be drawn into talking about the prospect of his role becoming permanent, saying at the press conference: “Dortmund is the target for me now, we want to win. That’s what drives me and the team. I feel the team is ready, everything else does not interest me.
“It’s about beating Bayern. The club will make its decision.
“On Saturday we’ve got a game that the whole of Germany is looking forward to. We can lay down another marker with that.”
Bayern captain Manual Neuer disregarded Dortmund’s higher position in the table, telling the club website: “We always know what’s at stake in these games. It’s a meeting of equals, regardless of where we stand in the Bundesliga table and who’s ahead.
“It’s Der Klassiker.”
Dortmund’s sporting director Michael Zorc described the club as having an “absolutely horrendous record” from previous visits to the Allianz Arena.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference, Zorc was all too aware that the Black and Yellows have not enjoyed an away Bundesliga victory against Bayern for over five years.
“We need to match them,” he said.
“We haven’t done that there in recent years. That’s the clear demand for our players.
“The outcome of this match plays a significant role in terms of how the rest of the season unfolds.”
BVB manager Lucien Favre was not convinced that the successful debut of interim Bayern coach Flick was proof that the tide is turning for the titleholders.
“There’s not much to say about the match,” he said to the club website, referencing Bayern’s victory over Olympiacos.
“After two days with a new coach, it’s difficult to implement big changes.”
Favre will make a late call on the availability of Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus, who have both been struggling with injuries ahead of the fixture.
He told the club website: “In the case of Sancho and Reus, we need to wait and see. In addition to them, we have two or three other players who are not yet entirely fit and a decision will not be made until tomorrow at the earliest.”