Lothar Matthäus exclusive: "When discussing Bayern’s rivals, you always start with Borussia Dortmund"

Der Klassiker
(Image credit: PA)

Even this early in a Bundesliga campaign, it's rare when a Klassiker doesn't pit first against second. It's rarer still when neither Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund occupy the top two spots. 

But after eight matches of the new season, that's precisely what football fans will be treated to this weekend. Sunday's Klassiker sees third travel to face fourth at Dotmund's Westfalonstadion. Above Germany's footballing giants sit Union Berlin and Freiburg - first and second respectively. While neither minnow will harbour genuine hopes of ending Bayern's run of 10 consecutive league titles, they're proving irksome to the establishment. 

A win in Sunday's heavyweight bout has the potential to lift its victor above Union and Freiburg, however, and one of the biggest names in German football believes the natural order if things will soon be restored. If Bayern fail in their bid to make it 11 in a row, only one team can stop them. 

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"The biggest competition for Bayern is still Borussia Dortmund," Lothar Matthäus, winner of seven titles and countless Klassikers with Bayern during his career, tells FourFourTwo ahead of Sunday's battle. "The likes of Union Berlin and Freiburg have made terrific starts to the season and it’s fantastic to see some of the so-called “smaller clubs” causing the big boys some restless nights, but when you’re talking about Bayern’s key rivals, you always start with Dortmund. 

"It’s more than a simple matter of football. It’s also clear in terms of financial power, fan support, their stadium and the atmosphere they foster. There may be times when Dortmund wobble, but very few teams can compete with them long-term."

Bayern lost Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona in the summer, with many German football fans hopeful that the prolific striker's absence could spell the end to Bayern's dominance. Yet Dortmund also lost a star man in Erling Haaland, who opted to join Manchester City in July. Matthäus believes the Black and Yellows still have the squad to compete this season, however. 

"Despite losing Haaland in the summer - and Premier League fans are already seeing the impact he can have - BVB still had a good window and strengthened in some key areas," explains Matthäus. "New faces came in, the defence was given some much-needed upgrades and, don’t forget, they also changed their coach. Yes, Edin Terzic has been in the role before but there is always a shift in culture when you change the person in charge. 

"With all that change, it’s no surprise that they’re still finding their feet as a team this season but I expect them to pose Bayern some serious problems in the Klassiker this weekend - and to have a successful campaign overall." 

Lothar Matthäus was speaking to FourFourTwo in his role as a Bundesliga Legend. Find out all the latest from the Bundesliga here.

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Ed McCambridge
Staff Writer

Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Favourite FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.