Dortmund showdown set to decide German league, says Mueller

BERLIN (AFP) – Thomas Mueller expects Bayern Munich’s showdown behind closed doors at closest rivals Borussia Dortmund in a week’s time to decide who wins the Bundesliga title.

Goals by Robert Lewandowski and Benjamin Pavard sealed a 2-0 win for Bayern at Union Berlin last Sunday night as the German top flight restarted behind closed doors.

The result in Berlin maintained Bayern’s four-point lead at the top of the table after the league took a two-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Second-placed Dortmund smashed Schalke 4-0 last Saturday with Erling Braut Haaland opening the scoring before Raphael Guerreiro netted either side of a Thorgan Hazard goal.

Dortmund host Bayern on May 26 and Mueller expects the potential top-of-the-table clash to be a key factor in determining whether Munich will go on to clinch an eighth straight league crown.

Bayern Munich’s forward Thomas Mueller during the German Bundesliga football match against Union Berlin. PHOTO: AFP

“The match in Dortmund will decide how exciting and close it will be in the next few weeks, that’s for sure,” said Mueller.

Former Dortmund striker Lewandowski netted a first-half penalty for Bayern for his 26th league goal this season, taking him one closer to Gerd Mueller’s record of 40 in the 1971-1972 season.

Asked if the Pole could overtake Mueller’s 48-year-old record, Bayern coach Hansi Flick said, “It won’t be easy, but he (Lewandowski) has the quality.

“If anyone can do it, he’s the one.”

In Dortmund, Haaland also continued his phenomenal scoring record with his 10th goal in nine Bundesliga games since arriving from Red Bull Salzburg in January.

In total, the lanky 19-year-old Norwegian has now scored 41 goals in 34 games in all competitions in 2019/20.

The drubbing of Schalke was the heaviest defeat dished out in the Ruhr derby since 1966.

Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said he received congratulatory text messages from football luminaries including Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, Tottenham coach Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid President Florentino Perez.

“Perez even wrote that he was very happy” about the “exceptionally good performance by our team”, Watzke told the Bild daily.

However, the Dortmund Chief drew the line at suggestions the emphatic win was a direct challenge to Bayern.

“No. We played the first game after the coronavirus break under exceptional circumstances – that’s all,” said Watzke.