Hansi Flick has told his Bayern Munich stars they must not relax after the victory at Borussia Dortmund that moved them to the brink of title glory.

A seven-point lead with six rounds remaining has given Bayern firm control of their Bundesliga destiny, and they could even afford a couple of slip-ups before the season ends.

However, Flick has drilled into his players the need to keep pushing, with a Champions League resumption to follow the domestic league and DFB-Pokal trophy hunt.

Fortuna Dusseldorf are Bayern's visitors on Saturday evening, and they have plenty to play for as they wage a battle to avoid relegation.

"I'm thinking about how to keep the tension high," said Flick on Friday.

"Dusseldorf are not easy to play against. We have to fully bring everything that we've shown in the recent games. I'm in good spirits."

Many teams have struggled to make home advantage count since the league resumed after its coronavirus interruption, but Bayern thumped Eintracht Frankfurt 5-2 last weekend, an ideal warm-up for Tuesday's big clash at Dortmund.

After Joshua Kimmich's sublime chip delivered three priceless points at Signal Iduna Park, Flick wants to know what Bayern have for an encore.

"Of course, we also want to win against Dusseldorf, even if it will be difficult," he said. "We want to back up the big point from during the week."

Flick, who took charge barely six months ago, is revelling in the hectic run of games that Bayern have so far come through unscathed.

Midweek Bundesliga fixtures on top of weekend games are usually scarce in Germany and there is a particular term - Englische Woche (English week) - to describe such times, reflecting the heavier demands Premier League clubs face.

There will be more such weeks as the Bundesliga attempts to wrap up its season by the end of June.

"The schedule was relatively tight through the English week," Flick said. "The Dortmund game was on the level of a Champions League game, two top teams against each other.

"A lot was invested there. Now it is important to build on this, especially in the home game. Next week is a normal week and then there is another English week. So the workload is similar to that of the Champions League."

Regarding the actual Champions League, in which Bayern hold a 3-0 first-leg advantage over Chelsea in their last-16 tie, Flick is not yet looking in that direction.

He said: "The Bundesliga is my focus and then the cup semi-final against Frankfurt. What comes after June is still a long way off."

Lucien Favre insists he is not about to quit as Borussia Dortmund head coach despite a Klassiker defeat to Bayern Munich that appeared to end their Bundesliga title hopes.

Dortmund could have closed to within a point of league leaders and defending champions Bayern with victory at Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday.

But Favre's side toiled after a strong start and went down 1-0 thanks to Joshua Kimmich's stunning chip.

Former Hertha Berlin, Borussia Monchengladbach and Nice boss Favre has not won a league title since the 2006-07 Swiss Super League and has been criticised in some quarters for a persistent failure to deliver top prizes.

This perception was put to Favre following the Bayern defeat, and he told Sky Sport: "This has been said here for months. I know how to do it. I'll talk about it in a few weeks."

The coach's comments prompted speculation his Dortmund reign could end "in a few weeks" – a year before his contract expires – but he says he was misunderstood.

"I don't think about giving up at all," Favre said on Wednesday, as quoted by Bild.

"We were all disappointed [on Tuesday], but my words in the interview immediately after the game seem to have been misunderstood in many ways.

"The only thing I wanted to answer to relevant questions was that now is not the time to take stock of the season.

"Why? Already on Sunday, in Paderborn, we have to achieve a top performance again. We have to focus on that, nothing else."

Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick hailed "great talent" Jadon Sancho amid links with a move for the Borussia Dortmund star.

Sancho came off the bench as Dortmund suffered a 1-0 Der Klassiker loss on Tuesday in a huge blow to their title chances.

The 20-year-old England international has been linked with a move away amid reports Bayern and several Premier League giants are interested.

Flick was asked about Sancho after Bayern's win and was full of praise for the attacker's quality.

"I don't like to talk about players who are under contract to other clubs," he told a news conference.

"I can say that Jadon Sancho has a high quality but in the end he also does Borussia Dortmund very, very well."

Flick added: "He is a great talent and has enormous qualities. That's why you simply have to acknowledge that Dortmund has a very good player there."

Sancho has scored 14 goals and provided 16 assists in 26 Bundesliga games this season.

In the eerie quiet of Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday, the joyous yells of Bayern Munich players will have been more noticeable than ever.

With no crowd noise to drown them out, Bayern players screamed in celebration as they beat Borussia Dortmund for a second time in 2019-20, the shouts echoing around BVB's iconic home as Die Roten effectively sealed an eight successive title.

The build-up to Der Klassiker was dominated by talk of what the contest meant for the Bundesliga crown, and the consensus was failure to win would doom Dortmund's hopes.

Even sporting director Michael Zorc acknowledged this in the pre-match news conference on Monday: "If we want to keep competing for the title, we have to win the match. It's as simple as that."

Dortmund's start suggested that was the exact line Lucien Favre put across to his players before the match – they began with real verve and purpose, Erling Haaland having an effort cleared off the line by Jerome Boateng inside the first 40 seconds.

A continuously notable element of a gripping first period was the quality of the hosts' build-up play, with Julian Brandt, Mahmoud Dahoud and Thorgan Hazard playing some fine football between them.

But the final pass was too often found wanting, with Hazard and Brandt culpable on two particular occasions when the right ball would have surely left Haaland with a simple finish.

Bayern's cautious set-up in the first half probably contributed to Dortmund being in the ascendancy, but Hansi Flick's starting XI contained the right balance to allow them to be both solid at the back and still a threat in attack.

Joshua Kimmich and Alphonso Davies encapsulated that perfectly, with the latter in particular producing yet another gutsy display.

The story of the Canada international's season is well-documented – he's gone from being a back-up winger, to left-back cover to arguably the most exciting attacking full-back in the world.

All of his immense qualities were on display again on Tuesday.

Given his lack of experience in the position, there have still been those questioning his defensive capabilities, but it's difficult to see how any such subjects will be discussed with any real vigour after this.

Up against Davies, Achraf Hakimi struggled to have the sort of influence he has become accustomed to in the right wing-back role for Dortmund, failing to create a single chance, while Hazard simply wasn't good enough to exploit any occasions it looked like he might get the better of the 19-year-old.

Even Erling Haaland got to experience the full ferocity of Davies' pace and power, as the former Vancouver Whitecaps talent darted back with remarkable speed in the first half to deny the Norwegian a certain goal.

But then he also showcased his ability going forward, one mazy run seeing him somehow slalom through a crowd of four players, before eventually running into the Yellow Wall that was Mats Hummels, who didn't deserve to be on the losing side.

But he was, once again, against his former team, the effortlessly classy Kimmich proving decisive.

In a moment of real frenzy, with the ball pinging off Bayern players just outside the box late in the first period, the German produced an incredibly composed finish that seemed to stop time – his intricate chip looping over Roman Burki and finding the net with a little help from the goalkeeper's hand.

At the base of Bayern's midfield he was typically influential, his 104 touches of the ball more than any other Bayern player.

Kimmich also attempted more passes (81) than the rest of his team-mates, completing 89 per cent of them, while defensively he was astute, making three clearances, two interceptions and eight ball recoveries.

On top of all that, he ran 13.75km during the match, the most by any Bayern player in a Bundesliga match since Opta began recording such data in 2013-14.

Dortmund threw bodies forward towards the end, but there was a hopeless, aimless nature to their attacks once Haaland – their focal point – had been forced off with an apparent injury.

BVB had been urged to cut loose before the match, embrace the occasion and take the game to Bayern. While one can argue they did, Flick wisely recognised his side had more to lose and his team's mentality reflected that.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, and Bayern once again got the better of Dortmund, a fact that will now surely be reflected in the final standings as Flick's men went seven points clear.

From an optimist's perspective, Dortmund's squad is young and, should they manage to keep it mostly intact, trophies will surely come their way – potentially even Bundesliga titles.

But Kimmich and Davies could be dominating Der Klassiker for the next 10 years, and given their level at this point, that is a frightening thought.

At least there will likely be some crowd noise to drown out their celebrations next time.

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.

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).

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.

Robert Lewandowski might be Bayern Munich's most lethal forward, but the prize for their best player this season arguably belongs to Thomas Muller.

A regular fixture at the Allianz Arena for 11 years, Muller is sixth on Bayern's all-time appearance list on 523 games and has scored 196 goals. His 147 assists give him a total of 343 goal involvements in a club career that has yielded 21 trophies.

His place in Bayern folklore is secure. At the start of the season, the same couldn't be said for his future.

Muller started just three of 11 Bundesliga games under Niko Kovac and did not complete 90 minutes even once. His struggles at club level came after Germany coach Joachim Low decreed he would no longer be required for international duty, a century of senior caps and a World Cup winners' medal not enough with which to plead his case.

It seemed Muller's career at the highest level was petering out. And then, last November, came a Flicker of hope.

When Kovac's troubled time in charge came to an end, assistant Hansi Flick was tasked with steadying the ship and getting a trophy challenge back on track. Six months on, the former Germany number two has done just that, rewriting the story of the season with Muller as his chief protagonist.

MULLERDEPENDENCIA

"Emotionally, it was very tense back then," was how Muller described his time under Kovac, shortly after he extended his contract to 2023 in April.

"With the change of coach and different playing style, everything has developed positively. Not only have I been playing more, but I've also been able to put my stamp on our games again."

Flick certainly saw every reason to put his faith back in Muller, naming the 30-year-old in his starting line-up for 14 of his first 16 Bundesliga games in charge. Muller has repaid that by producing arguably the form of his career.

Since Flick took over, Muller was been involved in 20 Bundesliga goals for Bayern, scoring seven and setting up 13. That's the best record at the club, and came after he endured a goal drought of 1,356 minutes that ended in late November.

This is not a case of a forward feeling unburdened during a 'new manager bounce', either. Muller has been at the heart of Flick's set-up. He has been involved in by far the most open-play sequences to end in a shot (121 – at least 17 more than any other player). In terms of sequences to end in a goal, only Lewandowski on 23 comes close to Muller's 27. He has also had a hand in 27 of Bayern's 49 league goals from open play under Flick.

CHASING DOWN DE BRUYNE

Aside from goalscorer, Muller has taken on something of a new role under Flick: that of playmaker.

Flick seems to have remembered Muller's qualities from their time working together at international level and embraced them. In short, Bayern's best football now goes through their number 10.

Under Flick, Muller is averaging just over 70 touches per 90 minutes, a higher number than he has recorded under any other Bayern coach. His goal-involvement average stands at one every 66 minutes – a personal best in the Bundesliga by far.

Muller's distribution seems to be getting better, too. He has completed 79 per cent of his passes under Flick, created close to four chances per 90 minutes on average, and 1.3 certified 'big chances'. Louis van Gaal, Jupp Heynckes, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti – none of them could get Muller to reach these numbers.

It tallies, then, that Muller is enjoying his best season for Bundesliga assists. His 17 in the first 27 matchdays has only ever been achieved once, by Kevin De Bruyne for Wolfsburg in 2014-15.

Another four assists in the remaining seven games will see Muller eclipse the Belgium star's Bundesliga record of 20 for a whole season. That would be a remarkable number to reach for a forward who doesn't take set-pieces.

Then again, Muller is no ordinary player.

Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre is expecting Jadon Sancho and Mats Hummels to be involved in Tuesday's Klassiker against Bayern Munich, while Axel Witsel could also be in the squad.

Dortmund host Bayern in a potentially vital match for the title race, with Favre's side heading into the clash four points adrift of the pacesetters.

Both sides have resumed their Bundesliga campaigns following the coronavirus-enforced hiatus with a pair of wins – Dortmund beating rivals Schalke and Wolfsburg, while Bayern eased past Union Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Favre has had to contend with injury problems since the resumption, however. Sancho has only been fit enough to make two substitute appearances, Hummels was withdrawn halfway through Saturday's 2-0 win over Wolfsburg with an Achilles issue and Witsel has missed the past two fixtures with a muscular problem.

But there is a chance all three could take part in some capacity.

"I think Mats Hummels will be okay to play. I can't say for sure, but I'm 99 per cent [sure] he will be on the pitch," Favre said.

"Axel Witsel started to train with the team yesterday [Sunday]. He could be in the squad.

"Jadon was lacking training. He has now been training with the squad for 10 days. He played 20 minutes against Schalke and a little more against Wolfsburg. He did well. He is getting there slowly.

"He did well in training and slowly but steadily gets back to his old level. He is getting there, I don’t see a problem – we'll see."

Bayern warmed up for the trip to Dortmund with an entertaining 5-2 win over Frankfurt – Thomas Muller and Alphonso Davies catching the eye in particular for Die Roten.

Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick lauded David Alaba's performance in a 5-2 Bundesliga win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

Usually a left-back, Alaba continues to impress in the centre of defence for Bayern, who are four points clear at the top.

While Martin Hinteregger's double brought Eintracht back from 3-0 to 3-2 early in the second half, Bayern claimed an eighth consecutive win in all competitions.

Flick was satisfied with Bayern's display, but he had special praise for Alaba – and goalscorer Thomas Muller.

"I was very satisfied with the first half. We were very concentrated. We made a lot of chances to score," he told a news conference.

"Unfortunately, we did not score enough goals. You just have to say that. There could have been even more goals. We also didn't allow our opponents any chances.

"You can also highlight two players. One is Thomas Muller, who plays very intelligently and occupies the space well. But then, of course, there's the head of defence, David Alaba, especially in the first half he played outstandingly. I'd just like to say that here.

"In the second half we let the opponent come back. There we were careless in the five, 10 minutes … we must defend better and more consistently. We knew that this is a great strength of Frankfurt. We allowed them to score two goals, unfortunately.

"But the reaction afterwards was good and I liked it. Then we tried to score again. And then we could decide the game with the fourth and fifth goals."

Leon Goretzka, Muller, Robert Lewandowski and Alphonso Davies were also on the scoresheet for Bayern to go with a Hinteregger own goal.

Bayern are next in action in Der Klassiker, facing Borussia Dortmund in a top-of-the-table clash on Tuesday.

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