Klopp eyeing Bayern scalp

One of the biggest fixtures on the German footballing calendar takes place on Saturday, although some of the usual gloss has been taken off a game recently baptised Der Klassiker.

Dortmund and Bayern have shared the last five Bundesliga titles between them and Bayern are set to continue their domestic domination this term.

This time, however, the two giant antagonists of the German game meet with 31 points and nine positions separating them in the standings, but that does not mean the stakes are not high.

Dortmund are now only five points from the top six having climbed their way from the foot of the table at the midway stage of the season to 10th, although their coach Klopp insists their league position after the Klassiker is not his biggest concern.

“We’ve got to try to beat Bayern and where that can take us in the league is secondary,” Klopp said.

“Although we’re 10th, and although there’s a huge points gap between us, and although a lot is different compared to the past, it’s still a Borussia Dortmund home game.

“I don’t recall us gifting any of these games in the past.

“Gladbach have shown us how it’s done. Wolfsburg have also beaten them, but it’s not all that easy.”

Victory would nevertheless be important for Dortmund if they are to close the gap on the top six and qualify for Europe next season, while a second consecutive defeat for Bayern is almost unheard of and would allow Wolfsburg to reduce the deficit at the top to seven points.

The Wolves host bottom-placed Stuttgart on Saturday while third-placed Borussia Monchengladbach can strengthen their grip on a place in the Champions League with a win at Hoffenheim.

The battle at the bottom of the table is intensifying with all of the bottom eight sides separated by just seven points and still in danger.

Hamburg reacted to their slide into the bottom three by appointing Peter Knabel as their new coach during the international break and his first game is a daunting trip to fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen.

The northern German side therefore risk coming out the other side of the weekend inside the bottom two with Paderborn travelling to Hertha Berlin on Sunday.

Freiburg and Cologne are also involved in that scrap and they meet on Saturday with Mainz travelling to Werder Bremen.

Elsewhere, Augsburg host Schalke on Sunday and Eintracht Frankfurt welcome Hannover and their under-fire coach Tayfun Korkut to the Waldstadion.