Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich are locked together at the top of the Bundesliga, and Kevin Hatchard thinks Der Klassiker will be a close battle.
"Erling Haaland has scored 16 goals in 14 games for club and country this season, including a goal against Bayern in the DFL Supercup."
Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich
Saturday 07 November, 17:30
Live on BT Sport and Betfair Live Video
Haaland leading the Dortmund charge
While the Bundesliga has had an undisputed star striker for quite some time, Robert Lewandowski now has serious competition for that crown. Erling Haaland has scored 16 goals in 15 games for club and country this season, and he has reached 14 goals in the Champions League far more quickly than both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. In the first 20 games of a Bundesliga career, only legendary West Germany international Uwe Seeler has ever been more prolific.
Haaland scored twice for Dortmund in a vital Champions League victory at Club Brugge in midweek, but it is Dortmund's performances at the other end of the pitch that perhaps give them cause for optimism ahead of this game. For the first time under coach Lucien Favre, BVB have managed four straight clean sheets in the Bundesliga, and they have won all of those matches.
Dortmund can also take heart from their DFL Supercup defeat at Bayern earlier this season. Yes, they ultimately lost, but they made plenty of chances, and the excellent Haaland was a constant menace. The Norwegian scored to make it 2-2, and only a world-class save from Manuel Neuer denied him a second.
As is often the case, Dortmund are giving young talents a platform to flourish. English midfielder Jude Bellingham has played with maturity, energy and technique, and his fellow 17-year-old Gio Reyna has already bagged a hat-trick of assists in one game, and scored his first ever Bundesliga goal. Jadon Sancho, a relative veteran at 20, is starting to show the form we know he is capable of.
In terms of team news, the biggest question mark hangs over former Bayern defender Mats Hummels, who damaged a hamstring against Arminia Bielefeld last Saturday. He trained on his own on Thursday, and Dortmund hope he'll be fit to start. If he misses out, midfielder Thomas Delaney may deputise in the back three.
Bayern are brilliant, but can they be stopped?
The relentless red machine flattened a game but naïve Salzburg in midweek, as Bayern eventually ran out 6-2 winners in the Champions League. The defending champions have won all three of their matches in the group stage, scoring 12 goals in the process. Hansi Flick's team has won the UEFA Super Cup and DFL Supercup, and they are top of the Bundesliga, ahead of Dortmund on goal difference.
However, there have been minor hiccups. A 4-1 hammering at Hoffenheim showed the perils of a compacted schedule, thrilling left-back Alphonso Davies is out for weeks with injury, and only a thrilling quadruple from Robert Lewandowski was enough to see off a spirited Hertha Berlin in a 4-3 victory. Off the field, the David Alaba contract saga is a constant talking point and potential distraction.
Lewandowski was rested for last weekend's 2-1 win at Köln, but he'll start here, and he has scored an extraordinary 18 goals in 21 games against his former club Dortmund. Bayern have the best attack in the division, with a whopping 24 goals scored in just six games.
Leon Goretzka has recovered from injury, and should start in midfielder alongside Joshua Kimmich, who scored the only goal in Bayern's 1-0 win at Dortmund last season. Defender Niklas Sule is still in isolation after a positive COVID-19 test, although he has since tested negative, and are there suggestions his first test was a false positive. It's thought he is unlikely to feature. In the absence of Davies, Lucas Hernandez has filled in superbly at left-back.
Bayern justifiable favourites, but a little too short
Bayern have won all three of their competitive games against Borussia Dortmund under Hansi Flick, including that intense 1-0 victory at Signal Iduna Park, the result that effectively settled the title race. Games in Dortmund tend to be much closer than these teams' clashes in Munich, although BVB did produce an encouraging display in the Supercup.
Given Dortmund's current form, I was sorely tempted to lay Bayern at 1.834/5, but the champions of Europe and Germany have won all but one of their competitive matches this season, and at time of writing we don't know if the influential Mats Hummels will be fit. I'll look elsewhere for selections.
It could be a tight at the top
Even at this early stage of the season, there's a lot riding on this game, with both teams locked together at the top of the table. Dortmund look a lot more solid recently, and the Klassikers in Dortmund tend to be a lot more circumspect than the ones in Munich. Nine of the last 11 clashes between the sides at Signal Iduna Park have featured fewer than four goals.
I do think this will be tighter than the market suggests, and I'll back Under 3.5 Goals at 2.021/1.
Haaland to strike
Even though I don't think there'll be lots of goals, the outstanding bet here is backing Erling Haaland to score at 11/10, He is on remarkable form, scoring in ten of his 14 appearances for club and country, including the Supercup against Bayern.
Robert Lewandowski is a less attractive 4/9 to score, but given his record against Dortmund and his overall record (14 goals this term for club and country) that could still be seen as a worthwhile wager.
Kevin Hatchard 2020-21 P/L
Points staked: 89
Points Returned: 82.1
P/L: -6.9 points