Subplots abound on Bundesliga Matchday 9, with Der Klassiker between German heavyweights Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München top of the bill.
A whopping 342 goals have been scored in the fixture, ahead of what will be the 107th rendition of the Bundesliga era. That equates to an average of 3.23 goals per game. Bayern have won the last seven in a row, but Dortmund are level on points with the record champions and could go top with the Saturday night spoils.
There’s certainly no shortage of potential match-winners on either side. The cerebral Jude Bellingham, fresh off captaining BVB for the first time in the absence of the injured Marco Reus, is the Bundesliga’s top dog for challenges won this season, while close friend and fellow teenager Jamal Musiala is Bayern’s five-goal top scorer.
Dortmund defensive pair Mats Hummels and Niklas Süle have donned the red of Bayern in times past, while Bayern summer signings Matthijs de Ligt and Sadio Mane – world football A-listers in their own right – are poised to breathe Klassiker air for the first time.
Befitting one of the modern game’s biggest spectacles, Der Klassiker will be broadcast live from the hallowed turf of Dortmund’s 81,365 capacity Signal Iduna Park in over 200 FIFA member states.
Depending on how Der Klassiker shakes out, current Bundesliga leaders 1. FC Union Berlin could be playing catch-up by the time they conclude Matchday 9 away to lowly VfB Stuttgart. Die Eisernen were enjoying a club record 14-game unbeaten run, before losing to Eintracht Frankfurt last time out. SC Freiburg are second to the capital club on goal difference alone, ahead of their trip to Hertha Berlin in the second of three Sunday fixtures.
Read: Who can handle the pressure in Der Klassiker?
Heading south in the standings, there’s an early season relegation six-pointer between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Schalke 04 to look forward to on Saturday afternoon. Second bottom and with one win from eight, Bayer have made their worst ever start to a campaign. Last season’s Bundesliga 2 champions Schalke have fared only marginally better, and could slip into the drop zone if they fail to land a second win since gaining promotion at the first attempt.
FC Augsburg have edged clear of the basement boys after following up their shock win over Bayern with a barnstorming 3-2 success at Schalke. VfL Wolfsburg are next on the agenda, themselves buoyed by a last-gasp and welcome triumph against winless Stuttgart. In danger of being cut adrift at the foot of the standings, meanwhile, VfL Bochum 1848 host UEFA Europa League-winning, Union-slaying Frankfurt.
As is tradition, the action begins under the Friday night lights, with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim going up against Bremen. Hoffenheim have the summit in sight, but victory for Werder would propel them into the top four at TSG’s expense. Niclas Füllkrug has been key to Die Grün-Weißen’s seamless transition back from second to top tier. With little over a month until the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the uncapped German striker is this season’s seven-goal leading marksman.