The Allianz Arena co-landlords are on a roll at the moment. 2013 has been flawless for them. Every match in all competitions has been won and dominated. Many goals have been scored and only a few conceded. Former player, Lukas Podolski, was the first player to score against the Bavarians in 2013 and that was on the 19th of February.
At the weekend, a ruthless Roten army opened fire on Werder Bremen and the result was a 6-1 mauling of Thomas Schaaf’s side. Despite resting regulars like Mandzukic, Schweinsteiger, Alaba, Kroos, Van Buyten and Muller, those that came in did a great job. Even Arjen Robben has found himself among the substitutes in the last 2 months. Such is the fantastic quality that the outgoing Jupp Heynckes has at his disposal.
Last season’s top scorer, Mario Gomez started the Bremen match and scored 2 goals. The German striker is currently being kept out of the starting 11 by a very impressive Mario Mandzukic who has weighed in with 15 Bundesliga goals amongst others this term.
Borussia Dortmund took European football more seriously than the German league this season it seems. Topping a group consisting of Real Madrid, Ajax and Manchester City with an incredible record of 4 wins and 2 draws. Both draws could have been wins if not for Mario Balotelli of MCFC and Ozil of Real Madrid whose last gasp interventions prevented a 100% record for Die Borusen. The League campaign has been regrettable and bad for the defending champions.
Winning the last two championships must have taken its toll on the players and the loss of Shinji Kagawa who has been their best player of the last two seasons must have been too hard to take and the vacuum too large to fill. The Japanese has since signed for Manchester United, although he hasn’t found his best form since his arrival. Marco Reus, once a foul, left the Borussia Park and Gladbach to pitch tent with the double champions of Germany.
The Germany international whose 18 goals propelled Lucien Favre’s men to fourth position and a place in the UCL qualifying rounds, decided to seek pastures new. It wasn’t a bad decision. His 11 goals and superlative displays in all competitions this season have been crucial to the Dortmund cause. His return to the Park last weekend was not fruitful as his former club put paid to Dortmund’s very slim hopes of catching an impeccable Bayern side in the race for the Bundesliga crown.
Rolls Reus as he is fondly called, has linked up well with another aspiring great, Mario Gotze. The best show of their link-up play came two weeks ago against Frankfurt. Reus scored a fabulous hat-trick thanks largely to Gotze’s sagacity. The draw v Gladbach made it virtually impossible for Dortmund to ever catch a relentless and trophy hungry Bayern Munich who are now 17 points clear of the chasing pack. Sincerely, the Bundesliga should be handed over to them, even though there are still some games remaining to play. Anything other than a Bayern ribbon on the Bundesliga trophy would be melodramatic.
Fohlen Legend, Jupp Heynckes is determined to retire in grand style. After painfully losing 3 titles last season (two to tomorrow’s opponents), the Bayern Munich managers who is set to be replaced by Pep Gaurdiola next season, has set his sights on another treble winning chance. The Bundesliga title is a wrap it most likely seems.
The Pokal was lost to Dortmund in Berlin last season. The performance was shabby and very unlike Bayern. The 5-2 drubbing laid down a marker. FC Hollywood want to make amends. The revenge mission will not be complete this season if Bayern don’t put Dortmund in their place. Mainz and Hannover have both been served their respective revenge meals in the German top flight already.
Dortmund avoided it in the league clash which ended 1-1. Die Roten however defeated their nearest challengers 2-1 in the German Super cup in August of last year, thanks to goals from Mandzukic and Muller. Lewandowski’s goal ended up as only a consolation.
Coach Jurgen Klopp has said in the past that the Bavarians bring out the best in him. His coaching resume has been beefed up in the last couple of months. His impact in Europe has brought him more admirers than critics. He’s currently one of the most sought after tacticians in world football. To lure him away from the Signal Iduna would be very difficult, but not impossible. This match will be taken seriously by the man touted to take over from Joachim Loew as manager of die Nationalelf. The Bundesliga race has been lost realistically, so it remains the UCL and the Pokal.
He will be hurt that Bayern are set to reclaim the German title, but he’ll be more pissed if they also take the Pokal away from his team. The central defensive partnership of Subotic and Hummels have performed extremely well when both are fit. Marcel Schmelzer is arguably the best left back in the German League and the attacking quartet of Kuba-Gotze-Reus-and arrow head, Lewandowski, need no introduction. Compared to the Bayern frontline, they have a strong case.
Goalkeepers Neuer and Roman Weidenfeller have been in good form since the start of the season. Germany’s No 1 goalie has allowed only Poldi and Kev de Bruyne to score past him since the turn of the year. The Bayern rearguard can do no wrong at the moment. the Dante marshaled backline simply hate to concede.
While Reus chose Dortmund over Bayern, Uli and KHR consoled themselves with the purchase of towering defender Dante Costa Santos from the Borussia Park for a meager 4.7 million euros. One of the bargain buys of all time. The Brazilian has started every Bundesliga game so far and it is thanks to him that die Roten have been so brilliant at defending this season.
His performances haven’t gone unnoticed Internationally. New Selecao manager, Luis Felipe Scolari aka Big Phil called him up for the friendly v England. He went on to earn his 1st cap in the 2-1 loss at the new Wembley to commemorate the English Football Association’s 150 years of existence.
Klopp has repeatedly backed his goalkeeper for a national call-up which has fallen on deaf ears ever since. Rene Adler of Hamburg who was No1 three years ago until he unfortunately got injured, has been called up instead following fine performances for HSV.
Bayern: Neuer, Lahm, Dante, Van Buyten, Alaba, Martinez, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Robben, Muller, Mandzukic
Dortmund: Weidenfeller, Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer, Gundogan, Kehl/Bender, Blaszczykowski, Gotze, Reus, Lewandowski.
The six players rested for Bayern at the weekend are all expected to return for this crunch game. Meanwhile Franck Ribery is suspended after his dismissal in earlier rounds. Arjen Robben has been chosen to replace him. Gomez has to sit on the bench yet again as the other Mario returns to the starting 11.
For Dortmund, The return of Lewandowski is a timely boost for die schwarzgelben. Hummels who limped out of the Gladbach match is fit for this one. Kuba Blaszczykowski is match fit too and will feature. The returning Nuri Sahin hasn’t featured as he would have envisaged.
The on-loan Real Madrid midfielder who came back to his former home after unhappy spells at the Bernabeu and Anfield, is finding it difficult to break into this talent/quality laden Dortmund team. His thought? ‘I should never have left’.
The match between Germany’s two biggest clubs will be a great show case of talent and greatness. The two teams that produced more than half of the players called up by the national team management in their recent friendly v France lurk horns tonight. Happy viewing.
Written by Ohiskaka Eboreime
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