BERLIN: Strikers Robert Lewandowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang go head-to-head on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) when Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich host Borussia Dortmund in Germany’s ‘Der Klassiker’ — with both teams having one eye on Europe.
And with Bayern 15 points clear of their rivals the Allianz Arena clash will see the pair continue their personal battle to be the Bundesliga’s top scorer.
Aubameyang netted Dortmund’s final goal in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Hamburg to leave him with 25 goals — one more than Lewandowski.
The Poland forward had a scare in training on Thursday when he was left clutching his right thigh, but later wrote: “Everything is fine. I will be ready.” on Twitter.
“This competition (with Aubameyang) pushes Robert along,” said Bayern’s left-back David Alaba.
“He wants to improve everyday. He shows that in every training session and in every game.”
Dortmund’s Aubameyang will want to cap his week to forget with another goal against Bayern.
He fell offside with both Dortmund’s bosses and teammates alike last Saturday for wearing a mask in a goal celebration — made by one of the club sponsors’ rivals.
Both clubs have an extra incentive to claim a moral-boosting win before next week’s key European games.
Bayern host Real next Wednesday in a mouth-watering Champions League quarter-final first-leg clash, while Dortmund host Monaco on Tuesday in their home-leg match.
“We want to win the game, to stay in the flow and take a good mood into the game against Real. That is our goal,” said Alaba.
Dortmund are chasing a second win over Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern this season after sealing a 1-0 victory over the Bavarians last November when Aubameyang hit the winner.
It was Bayern’s only league defeat this season until they stumbled to a 1-0 loss at Hoffenheim on Tuesday.
“We have to learn from the second half (in Hoffenheim), put in a good performance against Dortmund and be ready for the Champions League,” said Dutch winger Arjen Robben.
Despite the loss to Hoffenheim, Ancelotti’s Bayern still hold a 10-point lead at the top of the table — with Dortmund 15 points behind in fourth.
The clubs will meet again later this month at the Allianz Arena in the last four of the German Cup in a repeat of last season’s final, which Bayern won on penalties.
The German media have borrowed and translated Spain’s ‘El Clasico’ tag for Barcelona-Real Madrid matches and applied it to the Bundesliga’s clash of the titans.
“It is an important game and something special for us, especially in front of a home crowd,” added Alaba.
Ancelotti rested play-maker Thiago Alcantara, captain Philipp Lahm and winger Franck Ribery against Hoffenheim and all are expected to return to face Dortmund.
There is a question mark whether goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (foot) and forward Thomas Mueller (ankle), will be fit to face Dortmund, but Ancelotti says both will play Real.
Dortmund winger Marco Reus is back in training following a five-week injury lay-off and is not expected to face Bayern, but captain Marcel Schmelzer has recovered from a knock.
Bayern have won four of the last seven league meetings, with two wins for Dortmund and just one draw.
The biggest margin in recent years was the 5-1 thrashing Bayern handed Dortmund in October 2015 when Lewandowski netted twice against his former club and Aubameyang netted Borussia’s consolation.