"Not Easy To Play Bayern Munich In Their Home But Borussia Dortmund Not Scared": Roman Weidenfeller On Der Klassiker - Exclusive
Borussia Dortmund legend Roman Weidenfeller spoke to NDTV on the upcoming Der Klassiker between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, a match that could potentially settle the Bundesliga title race.
The biggest game in the German topflight, the Bundesliga, has arrived with Bayern Munich hosting Borusia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena on Saturday. The two teams are placed top of the Bundesliga charts, with Dortmund leading Bayern by just one point. The German Clasico or Der Klassiker - as the Bayern vs Dortmund showdown is popularly branded - could turn out to be the 'title-defining game' that decides if Dortmund would end Bayern's dominance and lift the Meisterschale for the first time since 2011-12 season. Ahead of Der Klassiker, Dortmund legend Roman Weidenfeller had an exclusive conversation with NDTV where he touched upon various topics, including the Bundesliga title race, Dortmund's resurgence, the contract situations of Mats Hummels and Marco Reus, as well as the future of Jude Bellingham.
You were Borussia Dortmund's goalkeeper when Thomas Tuchel was managing the club. How do you see the sudden change in the Bayern Munich team, with Tuchel replacing Nagelsmann?
We are all not really sure. So much is changing. Of course, they changed the manager and that's a big thing. Nobody knew this before. The players on the pitch are the same guys like before. Julian Nagelsmann still had the chance to play (and win) all three competitions - in the Cup, in the league and in the Champions League. Bayern felt the threat in the last few weeks as Dortmund won nine matches in a row and a draw as they closed the gap.
I don't think it would be an overstatement to say that Nagelsmann's dismissal was a shocking one. Do you think the decision was more down to Tuchel's availability than Nagelsmann's underperformance?
Yes, I'll go with you. Thomas Tuchel was on the market and had the chance to go to maybe Tottenham or somewhere else in the United Kingdom. Nagelsmann underperformed for Bayern Munich and this allowed the club to change the manager.
Bayern haven't lost a home game to Dortmund since 2014 in the Bundesliga. Do such statistics motivate the players to do better in such games or impact their confidence?
Of course, you are right. It's the first time after 10 years that we have a real title race in the league. But, in the end, just now, we had great performances. It is not easy to play here (in Munich) against Bayern Munich. But, they are not scared of Bayern. They have to focus on the team and they've done a great job in the last three months. It's not impossible to win against Bayern in Munich.
The contracts of Mats Hummels and Marco Reus are set to expire in the summer. Do you think both of them should be handed extensions?
It is possible. Sebastian Kehl, our Sports Director, said before that he wants to talk to the guys at the start of April. He wants to have some answers about what they want to do. Those players have great experience for BVB and have been successful with BVB. Mats Hummels won the Championship with me and the Cup one or two times. Marco Reus won the Cup two times.
Borussia Dortmund lead the Bundesliga standings, although just one point ahead of Bayern Munich at the moment. Could Der Klassiker be the season-defining game for both clubs?
The last three months, we closed the gap with Bayern Munich. We recently played Cologne and they played Bayer Leverkusen. The situation is that we have come to Munich and hopefully we will go back to Dortmund with the same position. But, it's not easy. And, this season is one of the most important seasons in the last 10 years as there is a chance to win the title. And is also good for the overall Bundesliga. You know, our broadcaster brings this game tomorrow in 190 countries. The whole world will be watching this game.
Borussia Dortmund are reportedly looking to make Jude Bellingham their best-paid player to make him stay. What do you have to say about his future?
It's a great answer. They want to make him one of the biggest players at BVB. He is very young, he can stay one more year. He is 19 and had great performances in the last two years. Everybody knows how important he is to our team. He is the third captain. He knows how the club and the people around the city are connected with Jude. He can also have his completely private life. When he will playing for Manchester United, Liverpool, or some other club, he will be one of the superstars there. In Dortmund city, he can remain a private guy and this is one of the best things in BVB.
Watch the LIVE coverage of Bundesliga Der Klassiker - Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund on Sony Sports Ten 2 channels from 10:00 PM (IST) on 1st April 2023