BERLIN (Reuters) – Bayern Munich’s problems off the pitch with a tumultuous annual general meeting and a vaccine debate as players are quarantined could give Borussia Dortmund the edge in the weekend Bundesliga Klassiker, ex-Germany captain Lothar Matthaeus said on Thursday.
The Bavarians saw club members protest at last week’s AGM against the club’s current Qatar Airways sponsorship deal over the country’s human rights record, while half a dozen players were in quarantine nL1N2SF2GE related to COVID-19.
Most of those players are back with the squad but midfielder Joshua Kimmich will miss Saturday’s clash due to quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Germany international Kimmich, who has not been vaccinated, has been at the heart of a debate over vaccinations of players in the Bundesliga.
“Bayern have problems, they are missing Kimmich, there are many discussions around the team and maybe they don’t have the focus as before,” Germany’s 1990 World Cup winner and former Bayern skipper Matthaeus said in an online media round table.
“It is not peaceful in Munich these days and maybe that is disturbing the concentration. Dortmund have chances to win because Erling Haaland is back.”
Norway forward Haaland returned to action last Saturday after a six-week injury break and scored minutes after coming on in their 3-1 win over VfL Wolfsburg nL1N2SI09V.
Bayern, chasing a 10th straight league crown, are a point clear at the top with Dortmund in second place on 30.
“Each team has problems. Dortmund went out of the Champions League, Bayern lost to Augsburg (two weeks ago) and before that in the German Cup against Borussia Moenchengladbach. They don’t seem to have the rhythm like maybe in the beginning of the season,” Matthaeus added.
Fans across the country are desperate to see a closer title race than in previous seasons when Bayern have dominated, but for that to happen Dortmund must avoid defeat, Matthaeus said.
“When you think about football and the Bundesliga, you have to wish that Borussia win because then it will be a hot season until the end,” he said. “If Bayern win they are four points ahead and psychologically more than four points ahead.
“For drama and for first place I hope Dortmund will not lose because it is four points difference and then Bayern will further show their muscle and quality.”
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris)