Bayern waits on Kane's and Neuer's fitness for 'Klassiker' against Dortmund

Thu, Mar 28, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Bayern waits on Kane's and Neuer's fitness for 'Klassiker' against Dortmund

DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) - Bayern Munich's slim title chances might depend on a win over Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga "Klassiker." Dortmund isn't the real threat though.

With Bayer Leverkusen still soaring 10 points clear with just eight games to go, dropping any more points could be fatal to Bayern's chances of a dramatic comeback in defense of the title.

Bayern might have to do without top scorer Harry Kane and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer after injuries meant both were unable to play for their national teams.

Kane "was able to join in with parts of the session" in training Wednesday after he hurt his ankle in a collision with a goalpost in Bayern's 5-2 win over Darmstadt on March 16, when he scored his personal-best 31st goal of the season.

Neuer tore the adductor muscle in his left thigh in training with Germany last week, meaning Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen took over in goal for friendly wins over France and the Netherlands ahead of hosting Euro 2024. Neuer managed what Bayern described as an individual workout Wednesday, his 38th birthday.

Even if Kane and Neuer aren't fit for Saturday evening's clash with Dortmund, Bayern might power through anyway. After all, Bayern had fitness concerns over its defense for the last Klassiker in November and still surged to a 4-0 win.

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The problem with the Klassiker - in theory the German league's showpiece game - isn't just that Bayern is second and Dortmund a distant fourth. It's also that so few recent Klassikers have been genuinely competitive contests.

Bayern has scored 23 goals in its last seven games against Dortmund in all competitions and hasn't lost since 2019 in a German Super Cup game.

The last time Dortmund won in the Bundesliga at Bayern's Allianz Arena was all the way back in 2014, when the coaches were Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp and future Bayern great Robert Lewandowski was still a Dortmund player.

Dortmund will need to get over that psychological hurdle to have a chance of taking down Bayern. The recent international break may also prove extra motivation for some Dortmund players who are out of Germany's plans after forward Niclas Fullkrug was the only player at the club called up by coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Bayern could be 13 points adrift of the lead before the Klassiker even kicks off, given that Leverkusen hosts Hoffenheim earlier Saturday. Xabi Alonso's team is still unbeaten in a scarcely believable 38 games in all competitions this season. A first ever Bundesliga title is on the horizon.

Unless Dortmund can beat Bayern, it will miss the chance to put pressure on third-placed Stuttgart, which hosts Heidenheim on Sunday. Leipzig is fifth and could leapfrog Dortmund with a win over Mainz on Saturday.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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