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Dortmund to host Bayern for Bundesliga’s ‘der Klassiker’

By AP - Apr 02,2015 - Last updated at Apr 02,2015

BERLIN — Great rivals Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich clash with even more pride at stake than usual on Saturday after vastly contrasting seasons.

Boasting a 10-point lead with only eight games remaining, Bayern are all but assured of their third successive title after slipping to just two defeats since August.

Dortmund, back-to-back champions in 2011 and 2012, have been preoccupied with their fight against relegation after making their worst ever start to the Bundesliga. Juergen Klopp’s side was bottom in February, but has carved out eight points of breathing space after seven league games unbeaten.

Bayern’s main rival for the past three seasons, Dortmund now find themselves 31 points behind the league leader.

Here are some things to know about “der Klassiker” and the rest of the Bundesliga’s 27th round:

Still eyeing prizes

Only pride at stake? Not quite. A win at home over Bayern would rekindle Dortmund’s hopes of salvaging European qualification from what has been a disastrous season thus far.

“We have to win on Saturday if we want to reach the Europa League,” Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang said. Dortmund are five points off sixth-place Augsburg in the last qualification spot.

French-born Gabon attacker Aubameyang has become one of Dortmund’s most important offensive weapons, scoring 12 league goals and setting up five more already in his second season. He scored 13 in his first. 

Bayern problems 

Bayern will be keen to make amends for losing 2-0 at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach before the league’s break for international games.

Pep Guardiola’s side looked short on ideas against ‘Gladbach, were fortunate not to lose by more, and now have further injury concerns following David Alaba’s left knee injury.

Bayern say the reliable left back tore a ligament while on duty for Austria and will miss around seven weeks. Alaba will likely miss the rest of the season.

Arjen Robben is also out for several weeks after suffering a stomach muscle injury against ‘Gladbach. The Dutch star had just returned from a pinched nerve in his back.

Holger Badstuber (hip) and Franck Ribery (ankle) are also doubtful for Saturday. 

Hamburg’s survival fight 

Hamburger SV’s sports director Peter Knaebel faces a tough debut as interim coach when he takes his relegation-threatened side to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.

Knaebel took over March 22 from Joe Zinnbauer, the second coach Hamburg has sacked this season after he replaced Mirko Slomka in September.

German media suggests Hamburg — the only founding member of the Bundesliga to have played every season — are keen on hiring former Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel for next season, but first Knaebel will have to avert the club’s first ever relegation.

Hamburg, which haven’t scored in three games, are two points off the bottom in the relegation play-off place.

Stuttgart and strengths

Bottom side Stuttgart breathed life into their hopes of avoiding the drop with a 3-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt before the break and are now looking at causing a major upset at second-place Wolfsburg on Saturday.

“We have to believe in our strengths,” Stuttgart coach Huub Stevens said. “Of course it’s cheeky to say that when you’re bottom, but we’ve shown good phases in certain games. That gives confidence.”

Wolfsburg are also confident after an impressive season in which they have beaten Bayern and Inter Milan.

“In 14 competitive games since the winter break we’ve only had one defeat. That’s strong,” Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking said. 

Bremen’s Selke sale 

A five-game winning run lifted Werder Bremen away from the bottom of the table but assistant coach Thorsten Frings believes the danger is still there despite a nine-point advantage over Hamburg.

Of more immediate concern to Bremen fans ahead of Saturday’s home game against Mainz is the surprise decision to sell highly rated German youth international Davie Selke to ambitious second-division side RasenBallsport Leipzig for next season.

The deal, announced April Fools’ Day, was the best for all sides, said Bremen general manager Thomas Eichin.

The 20-year-old Selke, who has six goals in 26 league games for Bremen, had only extended his contract with the club to 2018 in September.

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