Bundesliga: Bellingham and Musiala lead new Dortmund-Bayern rivalry
Borussia Dortmund host Bayern Munich on Saturday with arguably the most important players from both teams, Jude Bellingham and Jamal Musiala, with a combined age of just 38.
Recent encounters of Germany’s two most successful clubs have often been portrayed as clashes between missing forwards Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski.
Instead this weekend Bellingham, who captained Dortmund in their last two games, will face his good friend and former team-mate Musiala at Signal Iduna Park.
The 19-year-olds played together in several England youth teams before Musiala opted to play senior international football for Germany, making his debut last year.
Musiala has earned a place in Bayern’s starting XI this season, rewarding manager Julian Nagelsmann’s faith with results leading the team in the Bundesliga with five goals and three assists.
Bellingham’s rise, insofar as he wore the Dortmund captain’s armband, was perhaps even more impressive – and more crucial for his team.
The England international scored for a third successive Champions League game in midweek in a 4-1 draw against Sevilla in Spain.
The teams’ youthful complexion goes beyond Bellingham and Musiala, however, with Dortmund’s Karim Adeyemi and Giovanni Reyna and Bayern duo Mathys Tel and Ryan Gravenberch also nominated for this year’s Golden Boy award, won two years ago by Haaland while at Dortmund.
On Thursday, Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl suggested 17-year-old striker Youssoufa Moukoko could start ahead of struggling Anthony Modeste on Saturday.
“He was very agile, very energetic (and) very dedicated. He played a very good game,” Kehl said on Thursday of Moukoko’s performance against Sevilla.
The teams enter the game level on points, two points behind early leaders Union Berlin and Freiburg.
Questions have been asked about Bayern’s chances of winning an 11th successive Bundesliga title after a four-game winless streak in the league.
But they bounced back with a 4-0 thrashing against Bayer Leverkusen last weekend before beating Viktoria Plzen in Europe.
“It’s a special game in Germany and a special game for us,” said Dortmund coach Edin Terzic.
“You all know what has happened in Germany over the past 10 years.”
Bayern coach Nagelsmann faces concerns over two of the most experienced players, with Thomas Mueller and Joshua Kimmich in Covid isolation.
Speaking on Tuesday, Nagelsmann said the pair were “doing well” and “should be there if their health doesn’t deteriorate”.
A decision on the availability of the pair will be made on Friday evening.
Player to watch: Sheraldo Becker
The Surinamese international was one of the driving forces behind Union’s surprise charge at the top of the Bundesliga, scoring six goals in eight league appearances, having netted just seven in 59 in the German top flight.
Becker also marked time in the Europa League on Thursday, scoring the winner as Union secured their first points in Group D by beating Malmö 1-0 in a game that was marred by crowd trouble in Sweden.
Union will hope Becker can continue his fiery streak in Stuttgart on Sunday when they could have been passed by Dortmund or Bayern and Freiburg in the table.
8 – Successive victories over Dortmund for Bayern.
27 – The number of goals Robert Lewandowski scored for Bayern against Dortmund before leaving for Barcelona.
60 – New Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso took Real Sociedad B to the Spanish second tier in 2021-22 for the first time in six decades.
4 – Dortmund have won 1-0 four times in eight Bundesliga appearances this season. They only won by that score twice in the league last season.
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