Following a 5-2 thrashing at the hands of your closest rivals, one would expect a dejected and distraught training camp the day after but knowing this Bayern side, a strong and powerful return to the top seems more likely. Being a German club, grit and determination is said to flow in the blood and the Champions League triumph over Real Madrid could well be testimony of that. It was that memorable performance against the Spanish giants that has kept the Bavarians’ hopes of winning a title alive this season, a feat that hasn’t been pulled off since 1965 mind you – a Champions League triumph on home soil.
On the other hand, the winners of the DFB Pokal, Borussia Dortmund, have had a season in complete contrast to that of Bayern’s. This doesn’t mean that Dortmund have seen success and Bayern have drowned in failure: Dortmund’s domestic form has far surpassed that of Bayern’s while their continental results have yet to mature. This cup victory helped Dortmund complete their first ever domestic double, making them just the fifth team in Germany to do so.
While the Cup game ended Dortmund’s season, Bayern still have one hugely important game to bring an end to their roller coaster season, the glorious Champions League final at the Allianz Arena, but what can both teams take away from yesterday’s game?
The Yellow Wall Grows Stronger
With the cup final victory, Dortmund managed to pick up their fifth consecutive victory over Bayern, becoming just the second team to do so after Werder Bremen in the 70s. To have successfully completed such a remarkable task shows that this BVB side is not going through just a passing phase, they are here to stay. In their last two victories over Germany’s most successful club, they were without the services of wonder kid Mario Götze, making this achievement all the more impressive. Ever impressive midfielder Sven Bender was used for a mere ten minutes in the last two matches against Bayern, only showing the world how strong this Dortmund bench really is.
Götze’s long term injury was accompanied by a growth in the number of doubters. Jakub “Kuba” Blaszczykowski was called up to fill in for the injured attacker and talk of his failure to replicate the German’s brilliance was rife. Surprisingly, the Pole added a lot more to that Dortmund right flank than expected, and he possibly did have a strong influence on right back, Lukas Piszczek, who is from the same nation as Kuba. The inclusion of Kuba saw Piszczek’s performances improve considerably, with the defender also maturing a great deal. The Polish right back was at his usual best in the Pokal final, always assisting Kuba in attack. The duo was ever so crucial in destroying rookie left back David Alaba and it isn’t a surprise to see the first goal having come from their flank.
Shinji Kagawa was inexplicably instrumental in this 5-2 thumping. Although his move to the Premier League seems imminent, this performance will set the bar, showing new signing Marco Reus at what level he is expected to play. Some may argue that the loss of Kagawa will be disastrous to Dortmund, but those who have seen Reus will know exactly what he is capable of. The winds of change may be blowing strong, but the Yellow Wall will stand tall.
Mats Hummels’ confidence continues to blossom, having ensured that Mario Gomez has now remained goalless for an astonishing 450 minutes. Hummels’ brilliant season should guarantee him a spot in Joachim Löw’s starting XI for the European Championships in June. Ilkay Gündogan continued to play in midfield, ahead of Bender, improving his chances of traveling to Poland and Ukraine this June. The midfielder’s rise over the past few months has been sensational and his orchestration in the Pokal final will have made Löw’s selection process a whole lot harder.
With Dortmund’s players being predominantly from Germany and Poland, it is fair to predict that these two nations will have successful tournaments. The Dortmund lot will be undoubtedly instrumental in the two nations’ campaigns, but questions do remain over how many of them will be making the trip to Poland and Ukraine.
A Wake Up Call To The Bavarians
Nobody expected this heavy a defeat, but the scoreline is somewhat harsh on this Bayern side. The bigger worry for Bayern will be that they could end this seemingly successful season without a single trophy. All that will be on Juup Heynckes’ mind is that Champions League final which will, most importantly, be played at the Allianz Arena. The prospect of playing in front of their home fans will be a massive boost to Bayern, but history has proven that European nights are a very different occasion.
David Alaba picked up that dreaded yellow card to miss the Champions League final and there was a lot of talk of how dearly he’d be missed. In his final game of the season, the young full back failed miserably against Dortmund, as he provided no answers to the constant threat posed by Kuba and Piszczek
Conceding five goals in a final seems utterly ridiculous, but Bayern did manage to do so. This sort of disastrous performance could be exactly what Bayern needed to be ready for the big European night. Alaba’s suspension isn’t a solitary one, as he is accompanied by Holger Badstuber and Luiz Gustavo, both of whom were in the same sinking boat as Alaba was during the Pokal final. Following this latest domestic failure, all three suspensions seem like brilliantly disguised blessings in disguise, and Bayern fans could be thanking Viktor Kassai for brandishing those yellow cards.
Franck Ribery had a cracking Pokal final, scoring the goal of the game. He was a constant threat down the left flank, although ably dealt with by Piszczek. On the other hand, Bayern’s second superstar, Arjen Robben, was a mere spectator at the Olympiastadion. Dortmund’s suspected weakest link in defense, Marcel Schmelzer, was never troubled by the unpredictable Dutchman and boasted a surprisingly sound defensive performance. Just like Robben, Bayern’s lethal striker, Mario Gomez, had a shockingly poor night. The German’s big game worries continued and his duck against Dortmund remains unbroken. If Bayern are to lift the Champions League trophy on the 19th of May, Robben and Gomez are going to have to be far more influential against Chelsea.
Heynckes needs to wake them up
The players of these two clubs have very different goals and dreams at the moment. The yellow brigade is preparing for the European Championships, where even participation seems unlikely for some. Contrastingly, FC Hollywood is eagerly anticipating the final of Europe’s top club competition – a game in which most people would still consider them favorites. Whether the Poles of Dortmund prove to be a surprise package, the combined German contingent lift the European Championship or Bayern München win their fifth Champions League, the duel between Bayern and Dortmund will be far from finished. All one can do now is eagerly await the next meeting between these two giants, which is going to be special – the season opening German Super Cup of 2012.
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