An injury to Mario Götze means Borussia Dortmund have been spared having to face one of their former stars in the German Cup final against Bayern Munich on Saturday. However, plenty of reminders of the uphill battle they face in battling Bayern’s domestic power will still remain.
Götze’s departure, almost out of the blue on the eve of a Champions League semifinal in 2013, was a bitter pill for Dortmund to swallow. The diminutive attacking midfielder had spent 12 years in Westphalia, emerging through the youth ranks to become a key part of the side that won back-to-back Bundesliga titles between 2010 and 2012. His exit was unsurprisingly seen as a betrayal by the Dortmund fans, who continue to greet him with boos whenever he returns.
The 23-year-old will not be in the firing line on Sunday at Berlin’s Olympiastadion, however, after suffering a broken rib. Dortmund will, though, still have to counter the threat of their former striker Robert Lewandowski. In his second season since departing the Westfalenstadion, the Poland international has scored 42 goals.
Yet it is likely that a greater amount of ire from the Dortmund fans will be reserved for a player still wearing the yellow and black. Just last week it was confirmed that Dortmund’s captain Mats Hummels will be making the same move as Götze and Lewandowski before him this summer. It was a decision met by a predictably hostile reception from the Dortmund fans who showered the player they had cheered on for eight years with jeers.
While Hummels is returning to his boyhood club, the reaction from the passionate Borussia Dortmund supporters is easy to understand. After all, this season Dortmund have once again appeared capable of challenging Bayern Munich. The final margin between the two clubs at the top of the Bundesliga may have been 10 points, but, in contrast to the past two seasons, the title remained unclaimed by Bayern until the final two games.
Revitalized and refined by Thomas Tuchel’s arrival to replace Jurgen Klopp, Dortmund have at times played some of the best soccer in Europe this season. Having also fallen in the quarterfinals of the Europa League to Klopp’s new side, Liverpool, it would be a real wrench not just to finish the campaign empty handed, but to then see one of their talismen pull on their great rivals’ colors.
Yet, at the same times, those factors may only seek to add further motivation for Dortmund. While Bayern have already claimed the big domestic prize this season, defeat for the Bavarians in Berlin will certainly still register as a considerable blow.
After falling short for a third straight season in the Champions League semifinals, the DFB-Pokal offers a chance to help further the case that this season should be seen as a triumph rather than disappointment. And for departing coach Pep Guardiola, it represents the last chance to buttress his legacy at the Allianz Arena.
As Dortmund will be captained by a man on the way out, Bayern Munich will be coached by one in the same position. And, while the Catalan will depart for Manchester City without a Champions League crown, victory in Berlin on Saturday would mean he does so having delivered a hardly unimpressive seven trophies in three years.
Bayern Munich: As well as Götze, Bayern will be without Arjen Robben and Holger Badstuber, while there is a doubt over the fitness of Xabi Alonso, with the Spaniard making his way back from a rib injury.
Borussia Dortmund: Ilkay Gündoğan and Neven Subotic remain sidelined.
D: Lahm, Boateng, Martinez, Alaba
Costa, Muller, Vidal, Ribery
D: Piszczek, Bender, Hummels, Schmelzer
M: Castro, Weigl, Kagawa
F: Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, Reus
Kickoff Time: 2 p.m. EDT
TV Channel: ESPN Deportes
Live Stream: ESPN3