Former Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld believes Lucien Favre's men have crucial "momentum" going into this weekend's Klassiker.

Dortmund travel to Munich with a two-point advantage over their title rivals after Bayern surprisingly dropped points against Freiburg last time out.

With only six rounds of games remaining after Saturday's match at the Allianz Arena, a win would be a huge boost for either side.

Hitzfeld – who coached Dortmund between 1991 and 1997 before two spells in charge of Bayern – expects a fierce battle, but believes the current pacesetters have an advantage given the last-gasp nature of their win against Wolfsburg last weekend.

They appeared to be heading for a disappointing draw before two stoppage-time goals from Paco Alcacer handed them all three points.

"The momentum is in Dortmund's favour because they just had a sense of achievement in their last match," Hitzfeld told Omnisport.

"In the last few minutes they score two goals. This, of course, brings self-confidence and that brings a special mood. And you have seen that too. They even released pictures from the dressing room as the players celebrated. This is something really special.

"And Bayern suffered a setback in Freiburg, although in my view Bayern did not play badly. They were clearly superior and had many chances, but they did not score."

Bayern scraped past second-tier Heidenheim 5-4 in Wednesday's DFB-Pokal quarter-final, albeit having played much of the game with 10 men, leading to coach Niko Kovac warning his players that they need to show defensive "discipline and responsibility" against Dortmund.

That is an assessment Hitzfeld agrees with and the 70-year-old believes Bayern could be in a for a difficult game if they do not tighten up at the back.

"The deciding factor will be for Bayern to get back their stability," he added.

"It will be a special challenge for Bayern’s defence. They need to perform as a team, not just the defence but also the midfield and the attack. All 11 players need to work well.

"They must try to keep the danger away from their goal and need to attack early so that Dortmund have trouble getting into their rhythm.

"Continuity and confidence are missing as they’re not used to being the ones chasing. That has left marks on them. You can tell as they find it difficult to have a relaxed approach to matches."

The Bundesliga title will not be decided at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, but both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund can take giant steps towards besting their rivals.

Dortmund lead the way with a two-point advantage from Bayern, who slipped up at Freiburg last weekend, but Lucien Favre's men have looked nervy at times in recent weeks.

Bayern, of course, have made a habit of plucking away Dortmund's leading lights in the last few years and, assuming he recovers from illness, Robert Lewandowski will lead the line.

The Poland striker is one away from scoring his 200th Bundesliga goal and is a mandatory pick in our combined XI for Der Klassiker, but who else makes the cut?

 

GOALKEEPER: Roman Burki

It has been a difficult season for Manuel Neuer, whose long-held status as Germany's number one has come under threat after some erratic displays. Roman Burki is therefore selected almost by default, but eight clean sheets and 72 per cent of the shots he has faced being saved earns his place.

RIGHT-BACK: Joshua Kimmich

Kimmich's haul of 10 assists in the Bundesliga this season is remarkable and it is no wonder he has strongly suggested he wants to play in midfield rather than at the back. Kimmich's 1,993 passes in the Bundesliga this season is more than any other player.

CENTRE-BACK: Niklas Sule

Sule is not far behind Kimmich, recording 1,913 passes, and the centre-back has become a key part of the Bayern back line, taking Jerome Boateng's regular place. A rare sour note in his breakthrough Bayern campaign was the first red card of his career, collected against Heidenheim in the DFB-Pokal this week.

CENTRE-BACK: Manuel Akanji

Injury issues have marred Akanji's season but he has arguably been Dortmund's star defender despite being restricted to 18 Bundesliga appearances. His passing accuracy is among Dortmund's highest in the Bundesliga so far this term, while he has won 61.3 per cent of his duels.

LEFT-BACK: Achraf Hakimi

Dortmund's loan deal for full-back Hakimi has been a roaring success, but he will be absent on Saturday due to injury. A broken metatarsal means the Real Madrid defender is unlikely to play again this season, but Dortmund will still be keen to seal a permanent deal for the 20-year-old, who has been tracked at 35.1km/h this season, making him BVB's fastest player.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Leon Goretzka

Bayern's sole midfield representative is Goretzka, who won January's Bundesliga player of the month award in recognition of his fine form at the start of the year. With six goals and four assists in the league this season, the former Schalke star has shone for Niko Kovac's side. He is a major threat in the air that Dortmund will have to defend against.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Axel Witsel

Few signings in Europe's top five leagues this season can claim to have Witsel's impact, the Belgium midfielder proving the key piece in the puzzle for Favre after joining from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian. He has started 25 Bundesliga games, scoring three times, while his accurate passing – comparable to Akanji's – has been key for BVB.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD: Marco Reus

Dortmund captain Reus has been remarkably consistent this term and the birth of his child before the game means he is free to lead his side against Bayern. Only Paco Alcacer has scored more than Reus' 15 Bundesliga goals for Dortmund this season, while a further six assists is a mark of the creativity he provides. Reus is a big-game player, too, having hit a brace in the reverse fixture. He has scored 10 goals in 24 appearances against Bayern.

RIGHT WING: Jadon Sancho

Sancho has been nothing short of a revelation for Dortmund this season, with the England international linked with a £100million move back to the Premier League. He has produced a combined 21 goals and assists for Dortmund, level with Reus, and it is frightening to think how good the 19-year-old could become. Sancho's 13 assists in the Bundesliga is easily the most in the league this term and his skills dazzle defenders on a regular basis.

STRIKER: Robert Lewandowski

Lewandowski was too ill to start in the DFB-Pokal this week, but came off the bench at half-time to score twice and provide an assist for Thomas Muller, with his late penalty sealing a 5-4 victory and semi-final spot. He is the league's top goalscorer on 19 this season and a further seven assists show he is unselfish too. No player has fired more than Lewandowski's 107 shots in the Bundesliga this season, while he has haunted his old club regularly, having scored eight times in his last four Bundesliga appearances against Dortmund.

LEFT WING: Serge Gnabry

With Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben approaching the end of their glittering careers, Bayern have needed young talent to break through in wide positions and Gnabry has done just that, becoming a key player for both club and country. The former Arsenal attacker has scored seven Bundesliga goals, but has never tasted victory in the league in his four appearances against BVB.

Niko Kovac's first campaign at the helm of Bayern Munich is set to be a mixed one, regardless of how it finishes, and similar can be argued for Robert Lewandowski's season.

There is little doubt that Poland international Lewandowski has been among the world's finest strikers for many years, having led great sides for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern.

Even this season he has been excellent in most regards, scoring 33 times in 38 appearances across all competitions, but with Bayern not running away with the Bundesliga title in typical fashion and crashing out of the Champions League in the last 16, general reflection is only natural.

Lewandowski was particularly disappointing as Bayern were dumped out of the Champions League by Liverpool, making very little impact in the two legs when his team-mates would have been looking to him to make the difference, while transfer rumours linking him with Real Madrid have gone quiet.

The criticism levelled at 30-year-old Lewandowski is that his inevitable decline has started – ahead of Saturday's visit of former club Dortmund in Der Klassiker, Omnisport examined whether he has actually begun to fade.

Goal frequency not what it should be

While no one will try to claim a record of 33 goals in 38 matches is anything but excellent, using the expected goals (xG) metric, he actually should have been even more effective this season.

According to xG – which identifies whether a player should have scored based on the quality of the chance – Lewandowski has found the net four times fewer than he could statistically be expected.

That is by far his worst such record since joining from Dortmund in 2014, with his 25-goal haul tallying up exactly with xG in his first season at Bayern.

The 2015-16 season was Lewandowski's best in terms of xG (+6), and that was followed by records of +5 and +1 in the following years, showing clear signs of decline in that respect.

Less effective with big chances

One element which feeds into Lewandowski's xG drop-off and goes some way to explaining it is his converting of so-called "big chances".

The Poland striker has been presented with an average of 1.6 of them per match, the most in a single campaign during his Bayern stay.

However, he has scored 47 per cent of them, a four per cent decline from last season and also worse than the 49 per cent conversion rate he posted in 2015-16.

Bayern creating fewer chances

Although not necessarily linked to xG, it is a fact that Bayern are creating fewer opportunities this season than at any other point in Lewandowski's career at the Allianz Arena.

With 529 opportunities crafted from 40 games, that is an average of 13.2 every match, 1.3 fewer than last season and well off the 15.2 they managed in each game the campaign before.

Lewandowski could point to his own assist contribution as a caveat for not getting quite as many goals, however, as he has set up nine, his best ever return.

Still ruthless, but a long-term concern looms

Despite a decreasing xG record, curiously Lewandowski has never converted a greater percentage of his overall chances in a Bayern shirt than he is doing so this term.

Of his goal-scoring opportunities this season, Lewandowski has found the net with 29 per cent, making it his most effective campaign in that regard.

It is a four per cent increase from last season, though his average of a goal every 102 minutes is 10 minutes worse.

Despite the fact Lewandowski's overall conversion rate and goals total remain impressive, when the aforementioned sections are taken into account, it can be argued he is showing evidence of decline.

His xG record combined with the general and big-chance conversion statistics suggest Lewandowski is wasting some opportunities he should be scoring and finding the net when he might not be expected to.

While the latter element is impressive, in the long run it is unlikely to be sustainable.

Niko Kovac has turned Bayern Munich's form around thanks to the support he received in the boardroom, according to the club's former head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.

Speculation about Kovac's future has been present throughout his first season at the club, which has seen Borussia Dortmund lead the way in the Bundesliga title race.

But ahead of Saturday's crunch clash between the top two at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, defending champions Bayern know beating Dortmund will put them in pole position to win the Bundesliga once more.

Kovac's side are also through to the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal, having come through a thrilling 5-4 encounter at home to second-tier side Heidenheim despite Niklas Sule's early red card.

And although Kovac's suitability to coach Bayern has been questioned, with more high-profile managers such as Jose Mourinho linked with succeeding the Croatian, Hitzfeld remains sure he is the right man for the job.

When rumours Arsene Wenger was set to take charge peaked in October, Bayern president Uli Hoeness, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic held an extraordinary news conference to give Kovac their full backing and blast the media for their reporting.

And Hitzfeld feels support and trust from Hoeness, Rummenigge and Salihamidzic has helped Kovac to turn things around on the pitch, with Bayern having won 13 of their past 15 Bundesliga games to pile pressure on Dortmund.

"From day one I was convinced that Niko Kovac would master the switch to Bayern Munich," Hitzfeld told Omnisport. "He is a very meticulous coach who pays a lot of attention to details and he is a great motivator. 

"I had him as a player at Bayern Munich and even though he wasn't always a starter, he was always a team player and pushed the team. And he always contributed to the spirits being high in the team, which is very important. Especially coming from players who aren't always key players. 

"That shows the character and the focus. Tactically speaking, he worked wonders with Frankfurt. Especially, looking at the [DFB-Pokal] final where Bayern faced Frankfurt and he managed to surprise Bayern. 

"So he passed the exam, he managed to get through the rough patch they had in Bundesliga and fortunately Uli Hoeness and Karl-Heinz-Rummenigge continued to trust in him and continue to be convinced of him.

"That's paying off now and that’s why the consistency returned to Bayern's games."

Bayern could well end the season with a double of Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal titles or end up empty-handed but Hitzfeld backed Kovac to deliver silverware despite Champions League disappointment against Liverpool in the last 16.

"At Bayern you have to collect titles, that's what you’re hired for - for that and to develop the football," Hitzfeld added.

"That part Niko has managed, but obviously he will be measured by the titles he wins. That's true for every Bayern coach. But he still has [the] chance to win the double.

"And even if he wins, 'Only one title', he will have achieved the goals. Therefore I'm very positive that Niko Kovac will manage that."

Niko Kovac has demanded defensive "responsibility and discipline" from his Bayern Munich side in Saturday's mouth-watering clash against Borussia Dortmund.

Kovac was stunned by his side's defending in their dramatic 5-4 DFB-Pokal quarter-final win against second-tier Heidenheim on Wednesday.

Bayern host Dortmund, who are two points clear of them at the Bundesliga summit, on Saturday and Kovac wants every member of his team to contribute to keeping their opponents at bay – regardless of their position.

"It's about responsibility and discipline," he told a media conference on Thursday. "I do not just start with the defenders, it starts earlier. You have to be ready, no matter what your level.

"France have become world champions because they played well but also defended well.

"It is not for nothing that titles are decided at the back. We have to come back to defending well, as individuals and as a team.

"That's what we have to go back to, but you have to want it even if you're an artist.

"It will be an interesting game. The team that makes fewer mistakes will win."

Kovac also waded into the debate over Jerome Boateng's reported plan to throw a party hours after the clash with Dortmund.

The club's sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic believes Boateng's decision is ill-advised – a view the Bayern boss broadly agrees with.

"Personally, I do not think he should have started this party, but on the other hand, everyone has to decide for themselves what they do in their free time," he explained.

Manuel Neuer missed the tie against Heidenheim with a calf injury, while Robert Lewandowski was only fit enough to be named as a substitute after suffering from illness.

Kovac said a late decision will be made on Neuer's fitness but he thinks Lewandowski – who came off the bench to score Bayern's winning goal from the penalty spot – will be "fine".

He also confirmed that David Alaba, who has missed his side's last two games through injury, has returned to training and could feature, but James Rodriguez has a problem with his adductor and could miss out.

Borussia Dortmund head to the Allianz Arena on Saturday for what could be a decisive showdown in this season's Bundesliga title race.

Late goals secured a 2-0 win over Wolfsburg last time out, a result that moved Lucien Favre's side two points clear at the top, with Bayern Munich slipping up in a 1-1 draw at Freiburg.

Dortmund prevailed 3-2 in the reverse fixture in November, but Bayern have won 13 of their 16 league games since then to propel themselves firmly back into Germany's most interesting title battle in recent years.

But who will lift the trophy? Two Omnisport writers go head to head to (try to) settle the debate...

 

DORTMUND BELIEVE - SO SHOULD EVERYONE ELSE
By Joe Wright

"In the last 15 minutes, we absolutely wanted to score a goal and so we took a bit more of a risk," said Favre post-Wolfsburg. And score they did.

Paco Alcacer's last-gasp double means Dortmund head to Munich knowing that anything but a defeat will keep them top of the table with six games to go.

The last few minutes of that Wolfsburg game typified Dortmund under Favre: bold, impetuous, and, yes, imperfect. But they were good enough to win the match, and they are good enough to win the league. And they believe it.

Dortmund twice came from behind against Bayern in November, again thanks to Alcacer. They have won five league games this season after conceding the first goal. "We always keep battling, we have a lot of belief in ourselves," as Thomas Delaney said.

Okay, they had a rotten run in February that saw their lead at the top eroded and ended their DFB-Pokal and Champions League challenges, but the argument of a lack of experience holding them back in the title race just does not hold water.

Marco Reus and Mario Gotze have won domestic trophies, while the latter netted the winning goal in the World Cup final. Axel Witsel is a league champion in two countries. Alcacer, Lukasz Piszczek and Marcel Schmelzer have bulging trophy cabinets. Christian Pulisic and Jadon Sancho might not, but when has that ever stopped them leaving defenders in their wake?

Favre's side is a strong marriage of youthful exuberance and established quality. It is something Bayern are trying to be once again, if their recruitment drive of young talent is anything to go by. And if Bayern think a model is worth copying, then it's one that works well.

Dortmund could get a hand on the trophy if they beat Bayern, and they'll take the risk to get those three points. But even if they don't, they won't think the title race is over. It's that belief - in their chances, their tactics and their style - that will carry them to glory.

 

BAYERN ARE SERIAL WINNERS - THAT FREIBURG DRAW MEANS NOTHING
By Guy Atkinson

If you think Bayern are going to give up a seventh consecutive Bundesliga crown easily, think again.

Had they not slipped up at Freiburg at the weekend, few would have argued against them coming out on top against Dortmund, puffing out their chests and sauntering towards another title.

As it is, that surprise draw has given their rivals a points advantage and perhaps the whiff of a vulnerability ready to be exploited.  

Do not write off the Bavarian juggernaut just yet, though.

After the weekend draw, head coach Niko Kovac said: "We have to show Dortmund that we want to become champions and I expect us to put them under pressure and be aggressive." I expect them to as well.

This is a side that has domestic dominance woven into its very fabric, a side that sneers at challengers and swats them aside with arrogance, aggression and no little skill.

Despite that Freiburg result, this is still a Bayern side in rude Bundesliga health. Since that 3-2 defeat to Favre's men five months ago, they have stumbled in just three games – a run that saw them devour the nine-point lead Dortmund had opened up after gameweek 15.

No-one is pretending that this is a vintage Bayern team. At times this season, they have looked laboured and uninspired. What they do have, though, is an army of serial winners to call upon.

Expect Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben et al to do what they do best on Saturday and stamp their authority all over this title race.

Jerome Boateng's plan to throw a party hours after Bayern Munich's Bundesliga clash with title rivals Borussia Dortmund is ill-advised, says the club's sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

Boateng is reportedly set to hold a glitzy affair shortly after Bayern host Dortmund at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, a game that could decide the destination of the title.

Salihamidzic, though, is unimpressed with the move and said he would have advised Boateng to select another date, with Bayern sitting two points behind the leaders.

"I said I would not do this as a player," Salihamidzic told reporters after Wednesday's thrilling 5-4 DFB-Pokal quarter-final defeat of Heidenheim.

"Especially if I have this kind of game ahead and you don’t know what the result will be. I hope and I am sure that we will play a good game but, if he had asked, I would have told him he shouldn't do it."

Thomas Muller was central to Bayern's comeback against second-tier Heidenheim, scoring to make it 2-2 before setting up Robert Lewandowski to put Bayern in front, although the Poland striker still had to convert a late penalty to settle matters.

"Conceding four goals at home is too much," Muller said in the post-match mixed zone. "But for us it's going to be important to improve where we made mistakes and be better on Saturday.

"Offensively we can continue like this, but defensively, the whole team has to improve and we have to grow with the challenge. Another thing that was off today was that we probably thought we could just easily continue like this, but in the cup, that can't happen.

"I am still a bit overwhelmed after the game. It's maybe a bit easier for you to analyse the game than a player who was on the pitch. It was a 'crazy thing'. Many things happened that we didn't like and that should bother us."

Coach Niko Kovac was also frustrated with the defending on show from Bayern despite his side showing character to fight back with 10 men, Niklas Sule having been dismissed after Leon Goretzka's early header opened the scoring.

"I'm very upset, because we have many international players, many players who have achieved so much, who play on a very high level in international competitions," he told a news conference. "And yet, they didn't manage to control the game to the end like they should. The way it is in Bundesliga and all other leagues, too.

"I'm satisfied with the morale the team has shown, with one player down, to come back and go up 4-2, and win it 5-4 in the end. That shows we have a lot of quality. But one thing is for sure and I said it time and again, including at half-time, before the game, during the game, we have to be more compact. Being compact is the very basis for being able to play forward.

"But when you concede four goals, I can't remember someone winning 5-4 in recent history, somebody should check the history books. So, I'm saying, you cannot concede four goals, with all due respect to Heidenheim, that can't happen.

"No matter if it's the second league, third league, fifth league or first league. That can't happen. That's what upsets me, but we won't play two games like this one within a week. You can be sure of that."

Niko Kovac said he has never seen anything like Bayern Munich's 5-4 DFB-Pokal quarter-final defeat of Heidenheim but was unhappy with his side's lack of concentration.

Niklas Sule's red card after Leon Goretzka's early header opened the door for the second-tier side, who led at the break thanks to goals from Robert Glatzel and Marc Schnatterer.

Substitute Robert Lewandowski, who was deemed too ill to start, came off the bench at the break and set up Thomas Muller before putting Bayern in front, with Serge Gnabry extending the lead.

But Heidenheim hit back against the 10 men once more, with Glatzel striking twice in three minutes to claim the match ball before Lewandowski's late penalty settled a breathless encounter.

Bayern would have hoped to expend less energy ahead of Saturday's visit of Borussia Dortmund, which is likely to be decisive for the Bundesliga title hopes of both sides.

And although Kovac conceded the first red card of Sule's career put his side in an uncomfortable position, he was frustrated by the errors made by Bayern.

"The red card changed our calculations, so we had to react and change to 4-4-1 to get some compactness," he said after Bayern booked a DFB-Pokal semi-final spot for the 10th year in a row. 

"With the change in the second half, we got into the game better, then turned it. What annoys me absolutely is that you cannot manage leading 4-2 and then we get into trouble.

"It was wild, an open game, which I do not like in shape. Finally, we have a bit of luck, which you need in the cup. I have never experienced such a game."

Heidenheim's coach Frank Schmidt was less surprised the match was such a thriller but felt Bayern's ability to bring on Lewandowski and Kingsley Coman at half-time proved decisive.

"We imagined it would be such a wild game. That we manage to keep the game open through passion and scary work in the defence," he said. "Too bad that it was then relatively easy for us to fall behind. The game is different with the red card.

"Nevertheless, it is not obvious that you turn the game at half-time. But we did that with two brilliant offensive actions. In the second half Niko changed again, we could not defend this quality. Nevertheless, we kept our shape in play at all times.

"We have such a mentality that we really only stop playing the game when it's finished. I'm so sad that we exited. I think, it could have been the other way around in such a wild game.

"Today we have been able to give a business card, which shows Heidenheim. It was fun, it was an awesome evening from our point of view with the wrong result."

Robert Lewandowski came off the bench to help 10-man Bayern Munich win 5-4 at home to Heidenheim in a remarkable DFB-Pokal quarter-final.

Leon Goretzka's early header had Bayern in front at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday but Niklas Sule was sent off and Robert Glatzel and Marc Schnatterer scored to give the second-tier side a shock half-time lead.

Lewandowski was benched due to illness but within 11 minutes of his introduction as a half-time substitute he had set up Thomas Muller and turned in from close range to put Bayern ahead.

Serge Gnabry seemingly ended Heidenheim's hopes by converting a corner but Franck Schmidt's men improbably hit back with Glatzel scoring twice to draw the scores level at 4-4 and complete his hat-trick.

There was more drama to come, though, as referee Guido Winkmann harshly pointed to the spot when Marnon Busch handballed in the box, Lewandowski staying calm to settle matters with six minutes to play.

Bayern join RB Leipzig and Hamburg in the draw for the semi-finals, but this was more exertion than Niko Kovac would have wanted ahead of Saturday's crunch clash with Bundesliga title rivals Borussia Dortmund.

Manuel Neuer was left out of Bayern Munich's squad for DFB-Pokal quarter-final against Heidenheim on Wednesday due to a calf injury and Robert Lewandowski was only named on the bench.

Neuer sat out Bayern's last game, a 1-1 draw at Freiburg last Saturday that handed Borussia Dortmund a two-point advantage in the Bundesliga title race.

With the Bundesliga's top two set to meet at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, former Dortmund striker Lewandowski was left out of the starting XI against Heidenheim due to illness.

Sven Ulreich retained his place between the posts, with David Alaba (muscular) the other notable absentee for Niko Kovac's side, who have reached the semi-finals in each of the past nine seasons.

Niko Kovac insists Bayern Munich will not be distracted by the looming Klassiker when they face Heidenheim in Wednesday's DFB-Pokal quarter-final.

A 1-1 draw at Freiburg saw the Bundesliga champions slip to second in the table behind Borussia Dortmund, who earned themselves a two-point cushion thanks to Paco Alcacer's late brace in a 2-0 win over Wolfsburg.

The top two meet on Saturday at the Allianz Arena but Kovac is adamant that his side's attention will not be diverted from the visit of second-tier Heidenheim before that.

"I am able to hide the Dortmund game," he told a media conference. "And I told my players, it is not relevant now what will happen next weekend. We want to reach the semi-final. BVB comes after this game.

"My focus is on Heidenheim. This is my next job. The match against Dortmund is on Saturday and the game on Wednesday hopefully gives us a positive feeling for the Dortmund game."

Meanwhile, Kovac has confirmed that Corentin Tolisso is making good progress on his recovery from an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury and could feature before the end of the season.

Tolisso has been sidelined since suffering the injury against Bayer Leverkusen on September 15.  

"He is making good progress, we are very satisfied with that," Kovac said. "He looks very smooth, has no problems and his knee is in absolute top shape.

"We will now increase the intensity step by step. He has to confirm how he feels every day. How his knee feels, but also how he feels mentally.

"And I hope he can play some minutes this season, to get his feeling back for the pitch, the opponents, the stadium and the pressure."

Achraf Hakimi has been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a broken metatarsal in Borussia Dortmund's 2-0 win over Wolfsburg at the weekend. 

The full-back – on loan from Real Madrid – came on as a substitute to replace the injured Abdou Diallo in the 49th minute but then had to be replaced himself with 16 minutes remaining. 

He will now miss the club's remaining Bundesliga fixtures – including Saturday's pivotal clash against title rivals Bayern Munich – and faces a race to be fit for Morocco's Africa Cup of Nations campaign.

Hakimi has featured 28 times for Lucien Favre's side in all competitions this term, scoring three goals.

The club also confirmed that Diallo suffered a muscle strain but have not specified how long he will be out of action.

Dortmund go into the game against Bayern two points ahead of their opponents after Niko Kovac's side drew 1-1 with Freiburg at the weekend.

Bayern Munich will contest the Allianz China Cup against the Chinese national team in Beijing next month, the Bundesliga club have announced.

After the conclusion of their domestic season, Bayern will travel to Beijing to play in the fixture on May 29.

The match will see the continuation of a partnership between Bayern, sponsors Allianz and the Chinese Football Association (CFA), with the reigning German champions building academies in the cities of Shenzhen and Taiyuan to add to the one in Qingdao.

Beijing's National Stadium will play host to the match, and Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is hopeful they can continue to aid the development of football in the country.

"Our club has been active in China for many years and supports the development of Chinese football through numerous initiatives," Rummenigge said.

"We are delighted to have our partner Allianz on board and look forward to making a sustainable contribution to Sino-German football relations together."

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has denied the claim he turned down a move to Paris Saint-Germain because his wife did not want to live in France.

Lewandowski's former agent Cezary Kucharski in January stated the Poland international had previously opted against possible transfers to the Premier League and Ligue 1.

The 30-year-old, who has long been linked with Real Madrid, confirmed he has received interest from French clubs in the past. However, he refuted the suggestion his wife had been against a switch to PSG.

Asked if the rumour was true, Lewandowski told Telefoot: "No. I have never heard anything so stupid. Big fake news. It has nothing to do with it.

"Sometimes there are many parameters that come into play when deciding on the future. But I am very happy at Bayern Munich.

"I've already had the opportunity to sign with clubs in France in the past, but I cannot tell you everything."

Borussia Dortmund look set to push Bayern all the way in the defence of their Bundesliga crown after moving two points clear at the summit on Saturday.

However, the Bavarian giants have already moved to strengthen for next season by completing deals for World Cup-winning France defenders Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez.

"I've already played against Pavard. He's a good player and for him it will be a new stage in his career. He's a good signing for Bayern," said Lewandowski.

"I know Lucas too. There used to be a lot of Spanish players – now I'm going to have to learn French," he joked.

Niko Kovac has called on his Bayern Munich players to go out and show Borussia Dortmund how much they want to win the Bundesliga title.

A 1-1 draw at Freiburg saw the Bavarians slip to second in the table behind Dortmund, who returned to top spot with a two-point cushion thanks to two late goals in the win over Wolfsburg.

The top two meet next week at the Allianz Arena and Kovac is looking for a reaction on home soil.

“Now we must win the game against Dortmund,” he told reporters after the draw.

“I assume my players know what it is all about.

"We have to show Dortmund that we want to become champions and I expect us to put them under pressure and be aggressive next week.”

Reflecting on the game against Freiburg, Kovac lamented the host of chances missed by his side after the break.

“In the second half, we had to take advantage of one of our many chances," he added.

"What we got ourselves into is annoying.”

Prior to hosting Dortmund next Saturday, the champions have a DFB-Pokal clash against Heidenheim in midweek.

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