Football

'We are football' - Dortmund ready for title showdown

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Lewandowski can fire BVB to glory. (©GettyImages)
Lewandowski can fire BVB to glory. (©GettyImages).

This destination of the German title could be decided on Wednesday evening, as first and second in the Bundesliga meet at the Westfalenstadion.

Borussia Dortmund reign supreme at the summit of the table with five games of the season remaining, but Bayern Munich trail by only three points - and can boast a superior goal difference.

A win for BVB and a record 23rd Bundesliga title will surely be beyond Bayern but, should Jupp Heynckes side take maximum points from Dortmund, they could be the team tasting glory come May.

The German press have been billing the encounter a league championship playoff - a final of sorts between the nation's two top teams - but Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp does not believe Wednesday's result will prove to be decisive.

"People have been trying to suggest that this is a kind of final, but that is a load of rubbish," he told the German press.

"Even if we beat Bayern, I would not say that that would be decisive."

There is no escaping, however, that this is the most keenly anticipated Bundesliga encounter for a number of seasons, and one which Bayern surely cannot afford to lose.

This is something the players and the staff of the Bavarian giants are fully aware of, although they have attempted to relieve pressure on themselves by entering into psychological warfare of sorts with tonight's opponents.

"There’s a lot of media hype about this game, but that's completely normal. It'll be very tense, All that counts is that we're in superb shape, and we've won a lot of matches in a or," Bayern Munich's Toni Kroos told the club's official website.

"We travel to Dortmund in good form. Obviously, we're wary and we know how good they are. But we're still just a little bit better in terms of footballing quality."

The response of Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke was both witty and precise.

"If we win, we'll be champions," he stated, as reported by The Guardian.

"Bayern are saying 'we are who we are', we're saying 'we are football'."

The prize for tonight's victor is straightforward, but picking a winner is certainly far less simple proposition, and the bookmakers have struggled to install a clear favourite to take all three points.

Home advantage will count in BVB's favour, and the reigning league champions have lost only once at home this term - a defeat which in September against Hertha Berlin.

The can also count on home support, too, and have experienced an unprecedented demand for tickets to fill their 80,000 capacity stadium.

"We received 450,000 ticket requests for this game," Watzke told Sky90. "And you can be sure that there were a lot of people who didn't even bother trying, too."

Dortmund have, however, struggled for fluency of late, and a run of seven successive league wins between January and March has been disrupted over the past six weeks.

BVB have not lost in the league for almost seven months, but two draws in their last five outings has provided Bayern with the opportunity to reduce the deficit.

Defeat to Bayer Leverkusen on March 3 galvanised Bayern into a sensational run of form and, since the loss at the BayArena, the Bavarians have recorded nine wins out of ten games in all competitions.

Mario Gomez has scored 12 goals in that period - including 11 strikes in five matches - and nullifying his threat will be one of the key objectives for Dortmund this evening.

Bayern have won every game in which the 26-year-old striker has scored this season, a statistic Bayern will be keen to see repeated against BVB.

Dortmund, though, retain the finest unbeaten run in the Bundesliga - 23 games - for two years; due in the main to the influence Robert Lewandowski, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Lukasz Piszczek.

The Polish trio have been directly involved in 65 percent of Dortmund's goals this term (43 of 66), with Lewandowski the club's top-scorer with a league tally of 19.

It had appeared that Dortmund would be further reinforced for the visit of Bayern, with Mario Gotze returning to full training after almost three months on the sidelines.

The German midfielder underwent hip surgery in January, but this evening's encounter has been deemed to have come so soon for Dortmund's prized asset.

Gotze will be in attendance at the Westfalenstadion tonight, and he along with every other Borussen will rejoice should they emerge victorious and all but secure a second successive Bundesliga crown.

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