Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund face German precision test
Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will meet in a fitting German Cup final today.
Germany’s two best sides over the past three seasons meet for the end-of-season title in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium for the second time in three years.
Bayern, who defeated Stuttgart in last year’s final, is aiming to avenge a humiliating 5-2 loss to Dortmund in the 2012 final and complete the league and cup double in Pep Guardiola’s first season as manager.
But Dortmund, who finished runner-up in the Bundesliga and, like Bayern, were knocked out of the Uefa Champions League by Real Madrid, are the domestic team Bayern fear the most.
Here are five things to know about the match:
Lewandowski’s last stand
Robert Lewandowski will be playing his last game for Dortmund, against his future side. Last January, the Poland striker signed a five-year deal with Bayern, effective July 1, after Dortmund failed in their attempts to extend his four-year contract.
Rather than cash in on a transfer fee and allow Lewandowski to leave last year, Dortmund opted to improve his conditions for the remaining year of his contract and lose him for nothing.
Lewandowski, 25, repaid the club with 20 league goals, six in the Champions League and two in the German Cup. Altogether, he scored 74 goals and set up 31 more in 131 Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund.
“We’ll have to do without this quality in the future. That’s bitter,” Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said.
History is on Bayern’s side. The Bavarian powerhouse have played in 20 of 71 German Cup finals – a record – and won 16 of them, also a record.
Werder Bremen are next with six cup wins, followed by Schalke with five. If Dortmund win on Saturday, they will join Nuremberg, Cologne and Eintracht Frankfurt with four.
Today’s match will be the 102nd competitive meeting between Bayern and Dortmund. Bayern have 46 wins to Dortmund’s 25, with 30 draws between the sides.
Dortmund won recently, 3-0 in Munich on April 12, while Bayern won the previous Bundesliga clash, also 3-0, in Dortmund on November 23, when Mario Goetze scored against his former side.
Scores to settle
This will be the fourth final in six years between the sides. Bayern defeated Dortmund 2-1 after extra time in the 2008 German Cup final, thanks to two goals from Italian forward Luca Toni.
Lewandowski scored a hat-trick in Dortmund’s memorable 5-2 cup win in 2012, but Bayern’s revenge came last year, when Arjen Robben struck late in London for Bayern to win the Champions League final 2-1.
Interest is huge. Dortmund had more than 300,000 requests for tickets. The sold-out Olympic Stadium can only seat 76,197.
About 13.55 million viewers in Germany watched the final the last time these sides clashed, and Saturday’s game will be shown in a record 182 countries.
Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke, who helped steer the club to sound financial footing after it teetered on the brink of bankruptcy in 2005, is enjoying his side’s rivalry with Bayern, despite the pain of seeing Goetze and Lewandowski switch sides in the past couple of seasons.
“In recent years, we’ve at least shown that we can defend ourselves and that we don’t have this humility [to Bayern] that has recently become commonplace in the Bundesliga,” Watzke said. “We always want to beat Bayern Munich.”
He rejected suggestions of Bayern’s poor form – Dortmund has won seven of their last eight games since losing in Madrid compared to just six wins for Bayern in 11 games. “At the end of March, everyone was writing that Bayern were the best team in the world, and that it would carry on for another 20 years,” Watzke said.
“Four weeks later, everything is suddenly bad. What are we talking about, exactly?”
Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer, a former Dortmund captain and coach, is demanding full commitment from his side.
“I expect a side on the pitch in which everyone, from a sporting perspective, says, ‘I’ll die for my teammates’. Everyone has to give everything for the side and sacrifice himself,” Sammer said.
Franck Ribery is likely to feature only as a substitute because of back problems.
“I feel good, but it’ll be difficult for 90 minutes,” said Ribery, who stressed the importance of Saturday’s game. “If we lose, it’s no longer a good season.”
Bastian Schweinsteiger, who is aiming for a record seventh German Cup win, is doubtful because of a tendon strain in his left knee. Thiago Alcantara is definitely out and will miss the World Cup for Spain after a recurrence of his right-knee injury.
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Published: May 16, 2014 04:00 AM