Hansi Flick has tasted victory in 15 of his opening 18 Bundesliga matches in charge of Bayern Munich - a feat only Pep Guardiola has previously managed in the club's history.

Bayern beat second-placed Borussia Dortmund 1-0 in the behind-closed-doors Klassiker at Signal Iduna Park through Joshua Kimmich's outrageous first-half strike to move seven points clear at the top.

In doing so, the reigning champions made it seven Bundesliga wins in a row and 13 victories in their last 14 since losing 2-1 to Borussia Monchengladbach towards the end of last year.

That is one of only two losses for Bayern under Flick, who initially replaced Niko Kovac on a caretaker basis in November before taking over permanently last month.

Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig are the only other teams to have taken points off the league leaders during that period, winning 2-1 and drawing 0-0 respectively.

Guardiola, whose team won 16 of their opening 18 games in 2013-14 - drawing the other two, went on to enjoy three trophy-laden seasons at the Allianz Arena that saw Bayern win seven major honours.

Bayern Munich moved seven points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga thanks to a magical Joshua Kimmich strike in Tuesday's 1-0 Klassiker victory. 

Both teams had previously won six league games in a row in a tightly contested title race, but it was Bayern who prevailed in the behind-closed-doors clash at Signal Iduna Park.

Kimmich scored what proved to be the only goal just before half-time with an audacious chip from 20 yards, which Roman Burki was unable to keep out despite getting a hand to it.

Dortmund, who lost striker Erling Haaland to injury in the second half, had a penalty shout rejected and saw Mahmoud Dahoud come close late on but ultimately could not find a way through.

The hosts came into the game boasting the best home record in the division this term and would have been ahead inside 29 seconds if not for Jerome Boateng, who bailed out Manuel Neuer - making his 400th Bundesliga appearance - by blocking Haaland's shot on the line.

Serge Gnabry was given the nod over Ivan Perisic in Bayern's attack and he was next to come close, the winger firing a shot past Burki but not covering defender Lukasz Piszczek.

But the visitors found the breakthrough two minutes before the interval thanks to Kimmich's moment of magic, the versatile German midfielder spotting Burki off his line and chipping the ball over the Dortmund keeper from just outside the box.

Dortmund sent on Jadon Sancho for the second half and felt they should have had a penalty when Haaland's shot caught Boateng on the arm, but the decision was not reviewed by VAR.

Dahoud was then denied by Neuer in the best of the home side's second-half chances, with Bayern coming closest to adding a second when Robert Lewandowski - who also had a penalty appeal of his own rejected - sent a curled shot against the post.

 

What does it mean? Title race all but over

A victory for Dortmund today would have heaped the pressure on Bayern, but the league leaders now have a seven-point lead at the top with just six games to play.

Hansi Flick's side still have to face Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach, but an eighth Bundesliga title in a row now seems a formality.

Kimmich lights up Der Klassiker

Dortmund had conceded just one goal in their past six league matches ahead of this contest, so it was always going to take something special for Bayern to find a way through.

Step forward Kimmich, who spotted Burki off his line and produced a quite sublime chip to win the match - his third Bundesliga goal this season, all from outside the box.

Haaland hobbles off

If the defeat itself was not bad enough for Dortmund, they lost influential striker Haaland to injury 18 minutes from time.

He may have gone back-to-back games without scoring, following a previous run of 10 in nine league matches, but his loss will be felt if the injury is serious.

What's next?

Bayern host strugglers Fortuna Dusseldorf on their return to action on Saturday, while Dortmund travel to bottom side Paderborn the following day.

Jadon Sancho was named among the substitutes for Borussia Dortmund versus Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

The England winger has been struggling for full fitness and has only appeared as a substitute in Dortmund's two matches since the Bundesliga resumed this month.

Head coach Lucien Favre again kept him out of the starting line-up for the Klassiker at Signal Iduna Park, with Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt supporting Erling Haaland in attack.

Mats Hummels was fit to start after being taken off at half-time of the 2-0 win over Wolfsburg, in which Sancho came off the bench to set up Achraf Hakimi for Dortmund's second goal.

Bayern, who are without the injured Thiago, named Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka at the heart of midfield, with Kingsley Coman, Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry behind striker Robert Lewandowski.

Jerome Boateng, another fitness doubt, was cleared to start at the heart of defence alongside David Alaba.

RB Leipzig have confirmed captain Yussuf Poulsen has sustained ligament damage in his right ankle that will keep him out of action.

Poulsen sustained the injury in the opening 20 minutes of Sunday's 5-0 rout of Mainz before going on to score one goal and set up two more.

Despite being able to play on against Mainz, the Denmark international underwent a scan on Monday and it has been confirmed he is facing a spell on the sidelines.

"Our forward Yussuf Poulsen sustained a ligament injury in his right ankle during the game against Mainz 05," a statement on the club's official website read.

"He will be sidelined until further notice. That was the result of a scan on Monday."

Coach Julian Nagelsmann is also still without Ibrahima Konate for Wednesday's home clash with Hertha Berlin, though Emil Forsberg has recovered from injury and is back in contention.

Leipzig moved up to third with their win against Mainz, but Nagelsmann is anticipating a tough contest against in-form Hertha, who have won two from two since Bruno Labbadia was appointed in April.

"It's tough to predict anything about Hertha as it's only their third game under Bruno Labbadia," Nagelsmann said at Monday's news conference. 

"They will probably sit back and play on the break. Vedad Ibisevic is the perfect player for that.

"I'm happy to see Bruno and his passion back in the Bundesliga. In just a short period of time, he's helped stabilise the team. But, we want to end Hertha's run tomorrow and build on our performance in Mainz."

Schalke midfielder Suat Serdar will miss the remainder of the Bundesliga season due to knee ligament damage, his club have confirmed.

The Germany international, who is in his second season with Schalke, had been one of the club's standout performers this season, with his seven goals from midfield making him their top scorer in the Bundesliga.

Serdar had been a regular alongside Weston McKennie in the Schalke midfield and made his 20th appearance of the league season against Augsburg on Sunday.

But he was forced off in the 56th minute of the 3-0 home defeat after injuring his knee, with scans since revealing a partial ligament tear.

Schalke's statement confirmed he will be out for the rest of the 2019-20 season, while head coach David Wagner said he expects the 23-year-old to be sidelined for "at least three to four months".

The news comes as a bitter blow to Schalke, who, after a positive first half to the season have suffered a significant dip in form, failing to win any of their past nine league matches.

Steffen Freund believes Jadon Sancho is good enough to play for Liverpool or Manchester United but warned the winger he risks becoming the next Luka Jovic if he leaves Borussia Dortmund too soon.

Manchester City academy product Sancho, 20, has been linked with a move back to the Premier League after scoring and assisting a combined 30 goals for Dortmund in the Bundesliga this season.

However, former BVB midfielder Freund cited the example of Real Madrid flop Jovic as to how a big-money move to a new club at such a young age can hamper a player's development.

Jovic starred in the German top flight with Eintracht Frankfurt last season with 17 goals, but the 22-year-old has scored only twice in an underwhelming debut campaign in Madrid and has been linked with a move away.

Freund, who spent five years with Dortmund from 1993, is worried Sancho's career could go the same way if he makes the wrong choice when the transfer window opens for business.

"Jadon is ready to play for Liverpool or Man United, no question, because his stats are unbelievable. That shows that he can take the next step," he told talkSPORT.

"In the Borussia Dortmund side with [Erling] Haaland, [Julian] Brandt improving, with Emre Can signing, with changing to a back three – that suits Sancho.

"It would be good for him to play for Borussia Dortmund now and next year so that he will have more match time.

"He's only 20, so why not play for Borussia Dortmund? We're not talking about Freiburg or Paderborn; we're talking about Borussia Dortmund, one of the top 20 clubs in Europe.

"Remember Jovic, who moved to Real Madrid from Eintracht Frankfurt – he's not playing. If you have an offer from Real Madrid you think, 'I have to go'.

"No, you don't have to go because the salaries in the Bundesliga are on a good level, too – not as much as Real Madrid or the Premier League, though.

"But you can earn good money and improve and not make too much of a big step at once.

"So, for Jadon to move to Man United with that pressure, they are struggling to qualify for the Champions League, so maybe it's better to stay another year in Dortmund."

Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc revealed last month he does not believe any teams will risk spending big for Sancho amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to clubs across the world facing a significant loss of earnings.

Freund has suggested it may be best for any interested parties to hold off from tabling an offer for the English youngster, who is reportedly valued well in excess of €100million, until BVB feel forced to cash in.

"If the offer comes in and the people from Borussia Dortmund think it's right then they will sell him," he said.

"With the coronavirus, if something goes wrong in the Bundesliga and we can't see football until the end of the year, then it's not the right moment to talk about players, they cost so much money.

"I think the price will drop anyway. All the clubs in Germany are losing a lot of money.

"It's not the same without money from tickets and sponsors and so it'll be difficult to keep your best players."

Arjen Robben has described former Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola as the "master of offensive football" and says the Catalan is the best coach in the world.

Former Netherlands international Robben, who announced his retirement from football last July, spent three seasons playing under Guardiola during his decade with Bayern.

The 36-year-old was brought to Bavaria by Louis van Gaal and also worked with Carlo Ancelotti, Jupp Heynckes and Niko Kovac at the Allianz Arena, as well as Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.

But Robben feels that Guardiola is the coach who helped him to improve the most, with the pair sharing the same ideology of how the game should be played.

"I love football and, above all, the offensive football – and Pep is a master at it," he told Socrates magazine.

"He focused on attack and total ball control. Of course, I particularly liked that. We were on the same wavelength.

"He made sure that I became more complete. For me, Pep is the best coach in the world. The three years with him in Munich were extremely instructive."

Robben joined Bayern from Real Madrid in 2009 and won 20 major honours, including a memorable Champions League triumph in 2013 when scoring a late winner against Borussia Dortmund in the final to secure the treble.

However, he was not sure at the time whether swapping Madrid for Bayern would be a good choice for him.

"Back then, my only wish was to win the Champions League and Bayern was not one of the top clubs in Europe," he said. "But I took the risk and it was worth it.

"It was really not an easy decision for me at the time. But going to Bayern was the best of my career in retrospect."

Bayern Munich can take a significant step towards another Bundesliga title if they can inflict more Klassiker misery on Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.

That said, Lucien Favre's side have won the past two meetings at Signal Iduna Park and will feel confident of pulling off a victory that would mark a best run at home against the champions for more than 50 years.

Robert Lewandowski is in ruthless form, but Freiburg's Nils Petersen has endured a miserable recent run and will hope to get back among the goals against Eintracht Frankfurt, his favourite opponents.

Borussia Monchengladbach will be eager to improve their defensive record at Werder Bremen, while Bayer Leverkusen and red-hot Kai Havertz are good value to find the net against Wolfsburg.

BORUSSIA DORTMUND V BAYERN MUNICH

- Dortmund have lost five of their previous six Bundesliga matches against Bayern (W1), conceding 24 goals in those games.

- BVB have won each of their past two competitive home matches at home to Bayern – they have only ever won three in a row against them between 1966 and 1967 (their first three meetings in Dortmund).

- Lewandowski has scored 12 goals in his previous six Bundesliga matches against Dortmund. The Poland star has netted 16 Bundesliga goals overall against his former side – only Klaus Allofs has more (18).

 

WERDER BREMEN V BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH

- Bremen are without a win in their past eight Bundesliga matches against Gladbach (D2 L6). Amongst current top-flight sides, Werder are only on a longer wait for three points against Bayern (22 matches).

- Taking 21 points from 26 games represents Bremen's worst Bundesliga season. The last team to survive with 21 points or fewer at this stage were Hoffenheim in 2012-13 (20 points).

- Gladbach have conceded in each of their previous eight Bundesliga matches – they last endured a longer run of this kind during a single season under Michael Frontzeck in 2010-11 (11 games).

 

BAYER LEVERKUSEN V WOLFSBURG

- Leverkusen have scored in each of their past 34 Bundesliga matches against Wolfsburg – no other side has managed a longer scoring run against one particular side in Bundesliga history.

- Leverkusen's 29 goals across the first 10 Ruckrunde matches are a new club record at this stage of a season.

- Havertz has had a hand in a goal in each of his previous six Bundesliga games for Leverkusen. Seven consecutive Bundesliga games with a goal involvement would see him equal a club record since detailed data collection began in 2004-05.

 

EINTRACHT FRANKFURT V FREIBURG

- Freiburg have won 13 Bundesliga games against Frankfurt; they have only enjoyed more victories against Schalke in the division (14).

- Frankfurt have just 28 points to their name after 26 games, marking their worst Bundesliga points tally at this stage since 2015-16 (24). They have suffered 14 defeats, which equals that particular record at this stage of a Bundesliga campaign.

- Petersen has not scored in his past nine Bundesliga games – his longest goal drought in a Freiburg shirt. He did, however, score in both games against Frankfurt in 2019, and has six Bundesliga goals against them – more than against any other side.

Tuesday's Der Klassiker between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich looks set to play a decisive role in where the Bundesliga title ends up, and the game itself could conceivably be decided by the two teams' options on the flanks.

There is something deeply satisfying and exhilarating about an effective, attack-minded wing partnership, and there have been many such combinations down the years that fit the bill.

Lionel Messi and Dani Alves, Luis Figo and Roberto Carlos, Philipp Lahm and Arjen Robben, Djalma Santos and Garrincha – the list goes on.

While there are also many effective flank pairings in modern football, when considering which are the most effective from an attacking sense, it is difficult to look past those served up by Germany's big two.

Although Jadon Sancho has only been fit enough to make a couple of substitute appearances since the Bundesliga resumed, there is every chance he will be back in the starting XI on Tuesday, with Achraf Hakimi, Alphonso Davies and Serge Gnabry all likely to feature as well.

All four are enjoying fine seasons – below, we examine just how effective the quartet have been.

Hakimi v Davies

Given they'll both be operating on the same side of the pitch, Hakimi and Davies will likely spend a significant amount of time in close proximity or running at the other, hoping to punish any defensive lapses. Even watching it could be exhausting, given how quick they are.

Both are more renowned for their attacking tendencies than defensive nous, which is certainly understandable with respect to Davies, who is effectively in his first season as a full-back. A straight comparison highlights plenty of common strengths when they are unshackled.

Davies' remarkable pace has attracted attention at times this term, and with good reason – his top speed of 35.3km/h is second only to Kingsley Coman (35.7km/h) in the Bayern side, though Hakimi clocks in as the quickest player since these records began in the Bundesliga, having got up to 36.5km/h.

Bayern youngster Davies shades it in terms of ball carries (running with possession for at least five metres), however. He embarks on 19.9 per game, 0.4 more than Hakimi, while Davies holds on to the ball for 12.4m on average – the Dortmund right-back keeps it for 11.5m.

Davies has also attempted more take-ons (118 to 113), has a better dribble success rate (58 per cent to 56 per cent) and runs an average of 11.2km per 90 minutes, 600m more than Hakimi.

Nevertheless, Hakimi's 146 carries for more than 10m is a Bundesliga-high, and while Davies negligibly edges him out in many of the aforementioned metrics, the Moroccan's 14 Bundesliga goal involvements is more than double that of the young Canadian.

Either way, it is clear to see both full-backs play a significant role in driving their respective teams up the pitch - Davies might be in for a more robust test of his defensive capabilities in this contest, however.

Sancho v Gnabry

It's worth pointing out neither player is exactly guaranteed to start – fitness issues have meant Sancho only made substitute appearances in Dortmund's past two matches, while Gnabry was on the bench at the weekend.

However, given their respective records this term, if they are in top condition, there is little doubt both will start. It is the biggest match of the season, after all.

Sancho and Gnabry have enjoyed immensely productive campaigns. The Bayern winger has had a hand in 20 Bundesliga goals, while the England international hit 30 with his 16th assist of the season at the weekend when setting up Hakimi.

Sancho is way out in front in terms of take-ons, having attempted a league-high of 131 this term, completing 47 per cent. Gnabry has looked to beat his man 92 times, succeeding 48 per cent of the time.

But there are fundamental differences between their respective styles of play when in possession.

Gnabry is more likely than his counterpart to end a carry with a shot, doing so 29 times in 2019-20, behind only Timo Werner (36). Similarly, 22 of his successful dribbles have come inside the penalty area – a joint-high for the division with Robert Lewandowski and Marcus Thuram.

By comparison, Sancho has only completed eight dribbles in the box and just 14 of his carries ended with a shot. However, eight of them have led to an assist, which is a Bundesliga record in 2019-20 and seven more than Gnabry.

This suggests, to a certain degree, that Gnabry lacks some of the awareness of Sancho, or at the very least possesses more of a single-minded approach.

The data also highlights Sancho's slightly deeper role, which is backed up by the fact he tends to run further (11.2km per match to 10.7km), sprint more (35.5 per match to 34.1) and has reached a higher top speed (34km/h, to 33.2km/h) than Gnabry.

While Sancho arguably comes out on top generally, there's no doubting both are exceptional talents and if they get anywhere close to their best on Tuesday, either he or Gnabry could light up the Klassiker by themselves.

A key contest in the Bundesliga title race takes place later on Tuesday when Borussia Dortmund host champions and leaders Bayern Munich.

Bayern are four points clear at the top of the table with seven matches left to play, making this a must-win encounter for Dortmund.

BVB have seen their fortunes boosted since the January arrival of in-demand striker Erling Haaland from Salzburg.

Bayern have a formidable frontman of their own, though, in the shape of former Dortmund star Robert Lewandowski.

Ahead of a huge Klassiker contest, we have used Opta data to review the numbers behind the two strikers' prolific 2019-20 campaigns so far.


GOALSCORING STATS

Lewandowski just edges Haaland when it comes to goals scored in league matches this season, with 27 to his name compared to 26 for the Dortmund star, whose figures include his time with both Salzburg and BVB.

However, the Poland international has spent 546 minutes longer on the pitch then Haaland, who has scored a goal, astonishingly, for every 64.5 minutes he has spent on the pitch.

Lewandowski's mark is 17.8 minutes longer than Haaland, but he still averages more than a goal a game with his minutes-per-goal rate also impressive at 82.3, his goals having come in just 25 appearances.

While it is worth bearing in mind Haaland was playing against weaker opposition in Austria, he has only needed 2.8 shots per goal, compared to 4.2 for Lewandowski.

The Bayern star is more of a presence in the opposition penalty area though, with 22 per cent of his touches there, compared to 18 per cent for his rival.

Both players are scoring more than their expected goals rate, with Haaland's 10 Bundesliga strikes defying an expected rate of 6.0, while Lewandowski's 27 are favourable to his expected tally of 25.1.

When it comes to creativity, it is another mixed picture, as Lewandowski has laid on 27 chances for his team-mates, compared to 21 for Haaland.

However, Haaland has 6 league assists to his name, twice as many as Lewandowski, who has 3.


KEY OPTA FACTS

Haaland

- The Dortmund striker became the youngest player to reach the milestone of scoring 15 goals in the Austrian Bundesliga. He was 19 years, three months and 20 days old at that moment.

- Haaland did not need long to get comfortable in the BVB jersey. He scored in all three competitions in his debut appearance: a hat-trick in the German Bundesliga against Augsburg, a goal in the DFB-Pokal loss to Werder Bremen, and two goals in the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain.

Lewandowski

- The in-form Bayern star got his 27th goal of the season on the 27th matchday of the league season, which represents his personal best. The overall Bundesliga record is held by Gerd Muller, who had 34 goals by the 27th match round of the 1971-72 season.

- Lewandowski has scored 12 goals in his last six Bundesliga matches against Dortmund. He has netted a total of 16 league goals against his former side – only Klaus Allofs has more (18).

Manchester City look set to have to fill a void in their squad.

Germany international Leroy Sane is tipped to swap City for Bayern Munich.

And Leon Bailey has reportedly emerged as a target for City.

 

TOP STORY – SANE OUT, BAILEY IN AT CITY?

Manchester City are targeting Bayer Leverkusen's Leon Bailey as a replacement for Leroy Sane, according to the Daily Mail.

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are hoping to sign City star Sane in the off-season.

Should Sane complete his return to Germany, Bailey has been identified by Pep Guardiola's City.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport claims Juventus have warned Paul Pogba he will have to accept a drastic cut to his salary if the Manchester United star is to return to the Serie A champions. Pogba has been linked with former club Juve and LaLiga giants Real Madrid. The Red Devils have reportedly re-opened the door to Juve over a possible deal.

Luka Jovic wants to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu and turn things around with Madrid, reports Marca. The Serbia forward, who has struggled since arriving from Eintracht Frankfurt, has emerged as a target for Milan.

- Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik is pushing for a move to Juve, says Calciomercato. The Poland international is a free agent in 2021 and is valued at €40million by Napoli, though he is hoping to lower the club's demands.

Juve are desperately trying to convince Arthur to leave Barcelona for Turin, according to Mundo Deportivo. Juve want Arthur to replace Miralem Pjanic, who is reportedly close to swapping clubs.

- Onda Cero says Barca could recall Philippe Coutinho from his loan spell at Bayern. With Bayern opting not to exercise their option to purchase Coutinho, the Brazilian could find himself back at Camp Nou ahead of LaLiga's proposed resumption.

Inter have been in contact with Edinson Cavani's entourage over a move to San Siro, says Calciomercato. Paris Saint-Germain forward Cavani is coming out of contract and could replace Inter star Lautaro Martinez, who is wanted by Barca.

- The Daily Mail claims Barca will listen to loan offers for Ousmane Dembele. The injury-prone Frenchman has previously been linked to PSG, Juve, Arsenal, United and Liverpool.

Pirelli chief executive Marco Tronchetti wants Inter to sign RB Leipzig star Timo Werner and Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani amid doubts over Lautaro Martinez.

Inter forward Martinez has been heavily linked to LaLiga champions Barcelona, who have reportedly identified the Argentina international as a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

According to reports, Antonio Conte's Inter have put together a list of potential replacements, including Liverpool target Werner and soon-to-be free agent Cavani.

Tronchetti – CEO of Pirelli who are Inter's shirt sponsor – advised the Nerazzurri to chase Werner and Cavani.

"For example, we left Inter with a 'regista' who was supposed to change the team in [Christian] Eriksen," Tronchetti told Gr Parlamento.

"Cavani's been able to do extraordinary things and I hope he can repeat them in Nerazzurro.  In Serie A there are other expert players, above all Cristiano Ronaldo, who are proving to be great champions. Age is not a limit, he [Cavani] can be a good choice.

"It's clear that selling Lautaro would hurt, but with Cavani and Werner we could be stronger than with Lautaro and [Mauro] Icardi, especially if Eriksen returns to his Tottenham form."

Martinez had scored 16 goals in 31 matches across all competitions before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Werner bagged a hat-trick for Leipzig in their 5-0 rout of Mainz in the Bundesliga on Sunday, taking his tally for the season to 30 goals in 38 appearances.

Cavani – who has been linked to LaLiga's Atletico Madrid and clubs in MLS – had netted four Ligue 1 goals in 14 games before PSG were declared champions after the season was cut short.

The 33-year-old forward scored seven goals in all competitions for PSG in 2019-20.

Erling Haaland cannot yet be compared to Robert Lewandowski, according to Hansi Flick, though Bayern Munich's coach firmly believes Borussia Dortmund have a star in their ranks.

Haaland has hit the ground running since his move to Dortmund in January, continuing the stellar form he showed in the first half of the season for Salzburg.

The 19-year-old has scored 10 goals in 10 Bundesliga appearances, propelling Dortmund on in the title race.

Lucien Favre's side sit four points behind leaders Bayern heading into Tuesday's behind-closed-doors Klassiker at Signal Iduna Park.

Haaland's form has been touted as a potential match for former Dortmund striker Lewandowski, who netted his 41st goal of the season in all competitions in Bayern's 5-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, yet Flick believes it is too early for such comparisons to be made.

"It is [Haaland's] first season, so comparing him now is too early," Flick told reporters.

"Robert has always been at a world-class level in recent years. But Haaland is a huge talent.

"He is a young player, but he has a huge pull towards the goal. He just wants to finish.

"He has a brilliant dynamic. He is greedy, is an enormous size but is still agile. But we don't just have to watch out for him [on Tuesday]."

Flick, who is anticipating a resilient Dortmund performance, also acknowledged the peculiarity of playing such a pivotal match in front of no supporters, due to the coronavirus crisis.

"It is a very special game," Flick said as he was asked if playing behind closed doors could present an advantage to Bayern.

"The atmosphere can inspire any team. It is about how you can cope with it. You have to accept the current situation. You can't look for an excuse. We have to implement the match plan."

Thomas Muller has been in scintillating form since Flick took charge of Bayern, and was at his best once more against Frankfurt, providing his 17th league assist of the season before helping himself to a seventh goal of the campaign.

"Thomas is a player who can lead a team very well and gives commands over and over again," Flick added.

"He played very well against Frankfurt and was always available – he brought dynamism into play. Thomas has enormous experience but wants to win every game.

"He embodies 'Mia san Mia' perfectly and knows that he has to go to the limit again and again to win games."

Lucien Favre is convinced Borussia Dortmund will be an entirely different beast in Tuesday's Klassiker to the one Bayern Munich thrashed 4-0 earlier in the season, with Erling Haaland and Emre Can playing a part in that.

Bayern were comfortable victors in the first Klassiker of the season back in November, with a Robert Lewandowski brace added to by Serge Gnabry's effort and a Mats Hummels own goal.

Tuesday's encounter will likely play a vital role in deciding where the Bundesliga title ends up, with Bayern four points clear of Dortmund at the summit.

While the phenomenon of home advantage may have been lost since the Bundesliga returned behind closed doors following the coronavirus-enforced suspension, Favre – whose Dortmund side will host Bayern – insists conclusions from their previous meeting are irrelevant this time.

"Obviously we didn't play well in the first meeting," Favre told reporters. "It was three days after our home match against Inter.

"Since then we improved and play with another system. It suits our squad more. In the transfer market we signed two players [Haaland and Can] and have more presence on the pitch now.

"We are simply better than back then, but this match [the 4-0 defeat] definitely was not good from us."

Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc added: "I can back Lucien 100 per cent on this. It's a crucial factor that we added two winners in Erling Haaland and Emre Can.

"Furthermore, there is big difference in our performances between home and away matches. We beat them at home last year, we beat them in the Super Cup.

"We are all looking forward to this match, as does the whole of German football."

But Zorc was eager to impress on Favre and the players the importance of this match, certain that failure to win will effectively doom their title challenge.

"First and second place in the league table are facing off. Emotionally it is a different match, just like it was in the derby against Schalke," Zorc said.

"When you play without fans it's going to be determined by the values we showed on the pitch in the previous two games. The team has been right on point.

"Obviously, you don't have to be a prophet when you say: If we want to keep competing for the title, we have to win the match. It's as simple as that.

"There are only six more matches to play after that. It's easy to say, difficult to achieve, since Bayern are an exceptional side."

Thiago Alcantara will miss Tuesday's Klassiker between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.

Head coach Hansi Flick confirmed the midfielder will not be available for the game at Signal Iduna Park after being forced to miss Monday's training session.

"Thiago didn't train," Flick told reporters. "Unfortunately, he is ruled out for this game. The final secret regarding the line-up, I'd like to keep to myself."

Thiago has played 23 times in the league this season but sat out Saturday's 5-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt due to a groin problem.

In his absence, Flick hopes to see Leon Goretzka continue his impressive run of form.

"He won plenty of balls against Frankfurt and was very aggressive. That's very important for a holding midfielder," Flick said. 

"He has added some muscle, which has benefited his game. Leon is developing well. 

"He was a little more attacking before, as a 10 or a number eight. But, as a six, he can show off his strength, his sprints forward.

"He interprets things differently to Thiago. I'm happy to have alternatives in this position."

Bayern head into the game with a four-point lead over Dortmund at the top of the table, with just seven games of the season remaining.

They are on an eight-match winning run in all competitions and won the reverse fixture 4-0 at the Allianz Arena last November.

Tuesday's game takes place just a day after the seventh anniversary of Bayern and Dortmund's meeting in the Champions League final at Wembley in 2013, when Arjen Robben's late goal secured the treble for Jupp Heynckes' side.

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