MUNICH, Germany- Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Stoeger hopes his side can delay old rivals Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga title celebrations when the German giants go head-to-head at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.
Bayern start the weekend with a massive 17-point lead in the table and victory in Munich would secure a sixth consecutive league title if second-placed Schalke slip up at home to Freiburg.
“Our plan is that they don’t celebrate the championship title against us,” said Stoeger.
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes insists he is “indifferent” to when the inevitable triumph is confirmed, although the Bavarians haven’t sealed the title at home since 2005.
Winger Arjen Robben is set to return after missing the last two games with a trapped nerve.
He has scored 11 times in 21 matches against Dortmund, including a late winner in the 2013 Champions League final, and the Dutchman is relishing the prospect.
“I love the big games and in the past, games against Borussia Dortmund were always big,” he told magazine Kicker.
“It’s the chance to show a bit more of what you can do.”
Bayern centre-back Jerome Boateng could miss out after bruising his Achilles tendon in Germany’s 1-0 defeat by Brazil on Tuesday, while Stoeger said it is doubtful Germany winger Marco Reus, who has struggled with a groin strain, will feature for third-placed Dortmund.
However, striker Michy Batshuayi will be looking to continue his excellent run of form after scoring in Belgium’s midweek 4-0 win over Saudi Arabia in Brussels.
Bayern-Dortmund clashes are billed as Germany’s biggest showdown — ‘Der Klassiker’ — but the current gulf between the teams is reflected in the 18-point gap in the table.
Even if Bayern win the title this Saturday, it will not break their own previous record, set on March 25, 2014, when Pep Guardiola’s side won it with seven games to spare.
Dortmund are desperate for points in the race for a top-four finish and a place in next season’s Champions League, with the five clubs behind Bayern separated by only six points.
Despite an early title win being up for grabs, Heynckes may have one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg at Sevilla.
Off the pitch, both clubs are hunting for a possible new coach for next season.
The 72-year-old Heynckes, whose contract expires in June, has not publicly stated whether he will stay on as Bayern coach while Stoeger has a contract until the end of the season, which could still be extended.
RB Leipzig boss Ralph Hasenhuettl, who is under contract until 2019, has been linked to both clubs, but poured cold water on talk of a move to either Dortmund or Munich.
“I feel well here,” he said at a press conference in Leipzig on Thursday.
“As far as I know, Dortmund has a coach who is Austrian and the final word has not yet been said in Munich.”
Saturday (all times 1330 GMT unless stated)
Hoffenheim v Cologne, Schalke v Freiburg, Bayer Leverkusen v Augsburg, Hanover 96 v RB Leipzig, VfB Stuttgart v Hamburg, Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund (1630), Hertha Berlin v Wolfsburg (1830)
Werder Bremen v Eintracht Frankfurt, Mainz v Borussia Moenchengladbach (1600)