Borussia Dortmund have a record better than most against Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich having not lost to their title rivals in the league since 2010 but they face an injury crisis ahead of their clash on Saturday.
Dortmund, four points behind Bayern, must patch up a depleted back line with central defenders Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic out for months with injuries.
Left back Marcel Schmelzer and right back Lukasz Piszczek are also unavailable, with Germany international Schmelzer out for three weeks and Poland defender Piszczek only just back after a double hip surgery in the close season.
Coach Juergen Klopp signed free agent Manuel Friedrich this week but it is still unclear whether the Germany international, who has not played since leaving Bayer Leverkusen last season, will be fit for the game.
"I have never seen such an extreme situation at Dortmund. Our entire defence with which we won the double (in 2012) has been obliterated," said Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said.
"We should not be talking about the title now. We have to keep on their heels."
Dominant Bayern, who beat Dortmund 2-1 in last season's Champions League final en route to winning the first treble by a German team, want revenge for their season-opening German Super Cup defeat to their fierce rivals.
They will, however, be without winger Franck Ribery who cracked a rib in France's 3-0 win over Ukraine on Tuesday, as coach Pep Guardiola looks to to extend their record-breaking 37-game unbeaten run.
Bayern will also be without injured Bastian Schweinsteiger but defender Jerome Boateng is fit to play despite sustaining a minor knock on the heel in Germany's over England win at Wembley on Tuesday.
Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Guendogan, who will miss the big match through injury, said he hoped former Dortmund darling Mario Goetze would receive a good reception after his high-profile transfer in the close season.
"I think he will come with a lot of respect because he knows how much he owes Dortmund.
"It is still a bit unusual to see him in red but he is still a colleague. I hope there are no jeers and whistles but I do not assume that it will be that way. Emotions are high when it comes to football."
Opta head-to-head facts
- The 'German Clasico' sees the best attack in the league (Dortmund - 32 goals scored) against the best defence (Bayern - 7 goals conceded).
- Dortmund inflicted FC Bayern and new manager Guardiola’s only defeat in a competitive match this season (4-2 win in German Super Cup).
- FC Bayern are without a Bundesliga win against Dortmund in six meetings (D2 L4). Only Bremen (12 matches 1988-93 and 8 matches 2000-04) have gone on longer runs without a Bundesliga defeat against the record champions.
- FCB have come out on top in the two recent pivotal clashes against BVB, in the German Cup quarter-final (1-0 at home) and the Champions League final (2-1 at Wembley).
- Bayern set a new league record on matchday 12 by reaching their 37th game without defeat. Their last league loss (2-1 at home to Leverkusen) was almost 13 months ago.
- Since a 0-0 draw with Mainz on April 14th 2012, FCB have scored in their last 49 Bundesliga games. However, they have scored just three times in the last six league games against BVB.
- Dortmund have lost their last two competitive matches. The last time Klopp’s men lost three games in a row was in January/February 2010, with two consecutive home defeats last happening in September 2009. Bayern were amongst their opponents on both occasions.
- BVB have won their first six home games this season (as they did in 1994/95 and 2003/04). Dortmund have never started a season with seven home wins in their Bundesliga history.
- Mario Goetze could make his first appearance against his former club Dortmund. The Germany international has been in Bayern’s starting XI for the last three competitive games, but hasn’t been involved in a goal in any of them.
- Robert Lewandowski is the top scorer in the league (9 goals) and the joint-top points-scorer (goals + assists) alongside Marco Reus and Bayer 04’s Sidney Sam (12 each).
European games covered live on Eurosport-Yahoo! this weekend