It’s being billed as the new Classico in Europe. These two titans from Germany have done battle on numerous occasions in the domestic scenario, but the showdown in Wembley to compete in the Champions League final is a first of possibly many more such matches to come. Yes, I’m referring to arguably two of the best teams in the competition this year in Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.
With one side looking to undo the errors of the previous season, the other is attempting to prove to the world that they are one of the rising teams in Germany. Bayern do possess the financial clout, marketing reach and fanbase that Dortmund currently lack, but make no mistake the Black and Yellows are no pushovers.
With a new manager at the helm from next season for Die Roten in Pep Guardiola, the Bavarians have been busy preparing themselves by adding the type of players Pep would require for his particular brand of football would warrant. One of them was Mario Gotze, deemed one of the brightest talents that Germany has ever produced. With his development under the eyes of a manager who advocates pacy football, the world knew that this diminutive youngster would be worth a lot of money. And yes he was, a huge €37 million of them. What is usually the transfer kitty for clubs around Europe became the valuation for a single player to be released from his contract at Dortmund and taken to Munich.
|Fans did not take too kindly to Gotze's Munich move
While many branded Gotze as a traitor, he did not let the occasion get to him as he put on a stellar performance to register a comprehensive 4-1 over Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals. The second leg was a tight affair with Dortmund suffering their first defeat of the campaign but aggregate combined with prodigal finishing led to Jose Mourinho’s La Decima dream being unrealized.
In what would have been his last match for the Borussians in the Champions League final, Gotze suffered an injury which has ruled him out of one of the biggest games of his life. Of course, Dortmund do have a replacement in Gotze’s position in Marco Reus, another Dortmund youth product, who along with his young teammate have made laughing stocks out of opposition defenders.
|This celebration won't be seen in the final|
It is very likely that Reus will shift to a more central position behind the striker Robert Lewandowski and Kevin Grosskreutz will take up the left winger position. But the question that everyone will ask is obviously this. Can Dortmund cope without one of their star players? Do they rely on him too much just like how Barcelona look a pale shadow of themselves without Lionel Messi in the ranks?
Numbers don’t seem to support that notion too much. Grosskreutz has time and again voiced his frustration on seeing too much bench time for his liking as coach Jurgen Klopp prefers to use his first XI as much as possible.
The numbers don't make for pleasant reading if you are a Dortmund fan
In addition the understanding that Reus and Gotze have developed this year is near telepathic. It reminds fans of the years when Andres Iniesta and Xavi ruled the roost in midfield by their sheer ability to pick each other out with ease even in the most crowded positions. Such a compatibility cannot be gained between Grosskreutz and Reus in the span of a few days.
The 24-year old Grosskreutz does not have the pace and dribbling ability of Gotze while instead relying on workrate to provide value to the team, something Klopp and Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes will no doubt be aware of. While the 20-year old provided an average of 4.5 dribbles per game in all competitions, his older teammate Grosskreutz fared poorly averaging only 0.5 on that count.
In all fairness to Grosskreutz, he did not get the first team action that he would have desired, which makes it all the more difficult for Dortmund in the final.
Psychologically, both teams may appear to portray a passivity towards the injury to Gotze, but deep down Bayern would no doubt be the happier ones as they are free of a major threat who will be the scourge of other defences from the next year in their red shirt.
Dortmund on the other hand have to muster the enormous amount of team spirit and resilience that they have shown this year to combat this loss. Deemed as underdogs right from the group stages, they have fought the odds and come out on top everytime. Perhaps Klopp would in secret appreciate that his team are now the underdogs in the tie after Gotze’s injury.
This would allow the Borussians to play with a lot more freedom and less pressure to win. Dortmund may go onto lose the final, but they have no doubt given Bayern a gift in the form of a youngster who will be the face of German football in the years to come.
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