Pep Guardiola sees Wednesday’s DFL Supercup as far more than just a final tuneup before the start of the new season as his Bayern Munich side look to avenge their defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the traditional curtain-raiser 12 months ago. In what was Guardiola’s first match in charge since replacing treble-winning coach Jupp Heynckes, Dortmund came up with a 4-2 victory that they will be looking to repeat when the showpiece match takes place in front of their own fans at the Westfalenstadion. Guardiola, though, hopes what he has learned about his opponents in his first year in charge will help Bayern garner another important win.
“A final is no pre-season friendly -- you play these games to win,” he said, according to Bundesliga.com. “I know our opponents better than last season,” added Guardiola. “But I also know how hard it is to win in Dortmund. They’re a fantastic counter-attacking side, with a super defensive structure.”
While Dortmund came out on top in last year’s Supercup, Bayern have proved the scourge of Dortmund in recent major finals, triumphing in a dramatic Champions League final in 2013 and then winning 2-0 after extra time in the DFL-Pokal climax in May. That trophy provided a bright ending to a first season in charge for Guardiola that was threatening to peter out into disappointment. Still, despite being heavily beaten by Real Madrid to relinquish their Champions League crown, Bayern proved the dominant force at home by wrapping up the Bundesliga with two months to spare.
The champions have strengthened again this summer, while once again simultaneously weakening their closest rivals by securing former Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski on a free transfer. The Prolific Poland international is set to get an early return to his home for four years, alongside fellow newcomers Juan Bernat and Sebastian Rode, having been one of the few Bayern stars to have enjoyed a full preseason. Bayern Munich supplied seven of Germany’s World Cup winners, but their late return to training means few are likely to feature on Wednesday.
The same is true for the man recently named the new Borussia Dortmund captain, Mats Hummels, who has also been carrying an injury. Manager Jürgen Klopp will be hoping that the season ahead brings far fewer injury problems than the last, in which Dortmund’s prospects of challenging Bayern were severely hampered. There is good news in that regard, with Jakub Blaszczykowski having made his return last week and Marco Reus close to a comeback. But Klopp conceded that, like Bayern, their preparation has been far from ideal.
“It brings together two teams who have had to deal most with the aftermaths of the World Cup, and who have had and still have a most complex preseason,” he said, according to Borussia Dortmund’s official website.
Klopp’s biggest test this season, though, could well be dealing with the loss of another key player. A year after Mario Götze left for Bayern, Lewandowski has followed suit. Yet the Dortmund manager said that there will be a warm welcome for his former striker on Wednesday. “Robert's a great guy,” he stated, reports Bundesliga.com. “There'll be plenty of hugs on Wednesday.”
Dortmund have attempted to replace Lewandowski by signing last season’s top scorer in Serie A, Ciro Immobile, and the scorer of 16 goals in the Bundesliga last term for Hertha Berlin, Adrian Ramos, for a combined fee of close to €30 million. Both are expected to feature against Bayern. Klopp has had his attacking options further boosted by the capture of South Korea’s Ji Dong-won, while 20-year old World Cup winner Matthias Ginter arrived from Freiburg for €10 million.
Prediction: Neither team will yet be close to their best, but matches between these two rivals always have a welcome intensity and intriguing clash of styles. Bayern could be caught cold if Dortmund have the legs to implement their pressing and counter-attacking game. But that may be a stretch for Dortmund’s men at this stage of their preparations and Bayern could edge a narrow win.
Bayern Munich 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
Kickoff time: Noon ET.
TV Channel: Gol TV