Saturday night's Klassiker is one of the most eagerly anticipated Bundesliga matches in years, and Kevin Hatchard believes champions Bayern Munich will be dealt another blow.
"Dortmund are four points clear at the top, and are playing sparkling football. This is a gilt-edged opportunity to keep Bayern at arm's length."
Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich
Saturday 10 November, 17:30
Live on BT Sport 2 and Betfair Live Video
Favre's brave new world faces acid test
It took them over a year to lure him from Nice, but Lucien Favre was worth the wait for Borussia Dortmund. Although the Swiss coach has never won a major trophy in German football, he has developed a well-deserved reputation for tactical acumen and an ability to develop a thrilling brand of counter-attacking football. His team's attacking can look unscripted and off-the-cuff, but in reality it is carefully coordinated.
Favre was lauded as an excellent appointment by most (especially after the disastrous reign of Peter Bosz and the underwhelming one of Peter Stoger), but he is ahead of schedule. BVB are unbeaten in the Bundesliga, four points clear at the top, and they are progressing well in both the DFB Cup and the Champions League. Although they suffered their first defeat of the season at Atletico Madrid in midweek, Dortmund remain a confident group that know they are still developing as a unit. Indeed, CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke says the defeat may prove to be a good thing, as it may sharpen the senses.
There is so much for BVB fans to be excited about. Skipper Marco Reus is fit and has played a central role, English teenager Jadon Sancho has built on last season's promising form with a string of excellent displays, rampaging full-back Achraf Hakimi has been a superb loan signing from Real Madrid, Axel Witsel has brought balance and stability to the midfield, and Spain striker Paco Alcacer has shown what he's capable of when he's one of the main actors rather than the understudy.
The one fly in the ointment in Dortmund's defending. They have conceded two goals in three of their last four games, and have made a fair few defensive errors. However, when you're averaging three goals per match in the league, you can mitigate those problems.
Off-colour Bayern in unfamiliar position
Having won the Bundesliga title in each of the last six seasons, Bayern Munich haven't had many threats to their domestic dominance, but this season their grip on the mesieterschale has been at least partially and at least temporarily loosened by Borussia Dortmund. What has been remarkable is how the club has reacted to this threat.
Firstly, there was an extraordinary press conference held by CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, president Uli Hoeness and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic. Rummenigge talked about unfair criticism of Bayern players, only for Hoeness to spend the next part of the press conference tearing into former Bayern player Juan Bernat. It was a bizarre display that most of German football saw as a massive own goal.
Even more concerning was an incident that followed Bayern's tame 1-1 draw with Freiburg. Thomas Mueller's wife Lisa made a couple of digs at Bayern coach Niko Kovac, suggesting he had waited too long to put her husband onto the pitch. Although Kovac seemed to take it with good humour and played it down in the post-match press conference, Bayern released an official press statement stating that Lisa Mueller had apologised to Kovac. Such touchy behaviour shows the deep concern in the Bayern camp about how things are going.
Bayern have already lost twice in the Bundesliga (they only lost four times in the league last season), and although Kovac showed he has excellent man-management skills at his previous club Eintracht Frankfurt, there is a feeling that some of Bayern's senior players are concerned that he lacks the tactical ingenuity to break open deep and determined defences. Draws at home to Freiburg and Augsburg have reinforced that viewpoint, and I wouldn't say Bayern have blown a team away since the 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen in mid-September.
Forget the history, and back Dortmund
Although the Opta stats show that Bayern have lost just one of their last eight Bundesliga matches against Borussia Dortmund, that history almost feels like it doesn't apply, given the remarkable swing in the two teams' fortunes. Bayern are a shadow of the side they were under Jupp Heynckes last season, while Dortmund have been reinvigorated by Favre.
Bayern's price of [2.16] isn't rooted in current form, and given that BVB are unbeaten in the league and thrashed Atletico Madrid 4-0 at Signal Iduna Park recently, I'll happily use the Double Chance market to back Home and Draw at [1.84].
Goals expected as title contenders clash
The market clearly expects this to be a lively encounter. Over 2.5 Goals is trading at [1.67], with Both Teams To Score priced at [1.59].
Dortmund's amazing goalscoring record means that those prices make sense, and five of the clubs' last six meetings have featured three goals or more. On that basis you may be tempted to take a swing at Over 3.5 Goals at [2.66].
Reus worth considering to find the net
Dortmund's captain and talisman Marco Reus played outstanding football under Lucien Favre at Borussia Monchengladbach, and now that the dynamic duo have been reunited, Reus is sparkling again. He scored the winner in last weekend's victory at Wolfsburg, and he has already scored eight goals in all competitions. At [2.72], he is worth backing to score in 90 minutes.
On the Bayern side of things, Robert Lewandowski has an outstanding record against his old club Dortmund, and is a miserly [1.5] to score. I'd back Serge Gnabry instead - he scored last weekend, and has started to really show what he is capable of in recent games. He is trading at [3.55] in this market.
Bundesliga 2018-19 P/L
Points Staked: 30
Points Returned: 33.42
P/L: +3.42 points
Back Home and Draw in the Double Chance market at [1.84]
Back Marco Reus to score at [2.72]