Dortmund vs Bayern: Bundesliga grudge match

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updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Nasty fouls and elbow checks. Pushing and shoving. Yellow and red cards. It's rarely a pretty affair when Borussia Dortmund clashes with Bayern Munich. Tensions run high in the showdowns between the two top Bundesliga clubs and it's unlikely to be different when they meet again on Saturday in the 29th round in Dortmund. The two clubs were involved in a dubious Bundesliga record: their game on April 2001 produced 15 yellow cards and two expulsions before ending in a 1-1 draw. Saturday's game may not become that extreme but there is a lot at stake, especially for Borussia Dortmund. Last season's champion has fallen to third place and has Hertha Berlin and Hamburger SV breathing down its neck. Only a second-place finish guarantees a direct berth in the Champions League and Stuttgart has opened a four-point lead over Dortmund, with six rounds to go. Berlin is three points behind Dortmund and Hamburg four. Bayern has all but clinched its 18th title, but its massive lead had "dwindled" to 11 points after a draw and a loss in the last two matches. Ottmar Hitzfeld's team still has to play Stuttgart and doesn't want to take any chances despite the more than comfortable lead. "We have to step up on the gas right now and we must not look at other teams," said general manager Uli Hoeness. "I am not afraid but there has to be some seriousness. There is no place for complacency of the last couple of weeks". Dortmund worried Dortmund has enough reasons to worry. It hasn't beaten Bayern at home since 1996 and Bayern hasn't lost in seven straight road games. Goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, who has missed the last two games, is uncertain because of a blood blister in his thigh. "I can't say if he'll play or not. But he's made some good progress this week," Dortmund coach Matthias Sammer said. Bayern also has plenty of injury worries. Michael Ballack and Roque Santa Cruz are still absent because of long-term injuries, but Jens Jeremies has resumed practicing after a shin injury. "In midfield, we don't have creativity if Ballack, Jeremies and Santa Cruz are not there, plus Owen Hargreaves is also not fit," Hoeness said. Hargreaves may be ready Saturday after a groin injury, however. Bayern has been involved in a bitter public dispute with the German soccer league (DFL), the Bundesliga's front office, over a secret television deal it had with the now bankrupt KirchMedia. (AP)