When FC Bayern München host Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday, it may give a clearer indication of which is the top team in Germany.
The question has long been answered in the Bundesliga this term – Bayern have a 17-point edge on second-placed Dortmund – but last season left a bitter aftertaste for the runaway leaders as they lost twice to the Yellow-Blacks in the league and were humbled 5-2 in the German Cup final. Having also been held 1-1 in Munich in December, Jupp Heynckes' side are therefore keen to show they can beat Dortmund and deservedly follow them as champions in May.
Midfielder Toni Kroos believes Bayern are reigning supreme in the league and impressing in the UEFA Champions League as a result of BVB's recent pre-eminence. "With their good performances Dortmund have played their part in us being this strong now," said Kroos, who could line up alongside Arjen Robben given Franck Ribéry's suspension.
"Revenge increases our motivation – I remember the Bundesliga game at the beginning of December," said Javi Martínez, Bayern's €40m summer signing. "It was a good battle, very intense. I expect the same in this quarter-final. The pressure is bigger because it is a knockout game, but we are ready."
Defensive midfielder Martínez has been pivotal in Bayern's ascent, his intelligent playing style enabling his new team to execute the sort of pressing that has served Spain so well. "The migration [to the Bundesliga] is not that easy," he continued. "It takes time but I think German football suits me. It's a physical game, very direct. I like it."
Of course, Dortmund are far from giving up in the face of Bayern's domestic dominance. "They are playing outstandingly," said BVB coach Jürgen Klopp. "But we will treat this match like we do an away game in the Champions League."
Sebastian Kehl and Robert Lewandowski are equally defiant. "If there is one team that knows how to beat Bayern, it's surely us," said midfielder Kehl, while striker Lewandwoski added: "We want to beat Bayern again. My ambition remains the same: I want to play even better and win the title with BVB."
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