Jurgen Klopp and his Borussia Dortmund squad ended Pep Guardiola’s early run of preseason trophy-grabs Saturday by defeating the Bavarians 4-2 to capture the DFL SuperCup. The two teams met in last year’s SuperCup, with Bayern prevailing over their Ruhr Valley rivals in a match that foreshadowed their historic treble-winning season as Dortmund surrendered the Bundesliga title it had won the two previous seasons. This time, though, Dortmund proved ready for the Bavarian big boys and served notice that a 24th Bayern Bundesliga championship is not a given, to the mass delight of the enthusiastic yellow-black crowd at Signal Iduna Park.
Klopp went with a 4-3-2-1 formation to begin the match. With veteran Roman Weidenfeller in goal, Klopp’s back four featured three of Dortmund’s regulars over the past few seasons, with Neven Subotic and Mats Hummels the central pairing and Marcel Schmelzer at left back. Kevin Großkreutz started at right back, the position normally held down by Lucasz Piszczek. The supposedly Bayern-born Robert Lewandowski was the sole striker for BvB, with Marco Reus, İlkay Gündoğan and Jakub “Kuba” Błaszczykowski in support left to right. Sven Bender and Nuri Sahin shielded the back line.
Pep Guardiola, whose Bayern club has waltzed to preseason trophies by defeating Hamburger SV, Borussia Monchengladbach and Barcelona FC, named backup goalkeeper Tom Starke to his starting XI in place of all-world keeper Manuel Neuer. Captain Philipp Lahm assumed his normal right back spot, with Jerome Boateng and Daniel van Buyten manning the middle and young Austrian sensation David Alaba holding down the left. Newcomer Thiago was placed in a deep holding position behind Toni Kroos and Xherdan Shaqiri, with Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller manning the wings and Mario Mandžukić assuming his perch atop the formation. Injury has prevented Guardiola from debuting former Dortmund star Mario Götze, while counterpart Klopp was without prized summer signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
It took only five minutes for Dortmund to state their intentions regarding Bayern’s assumed Bundesliga dominance for the upcoming season. Marco Reus gave Dortmund a quick lead, as Klopp’s team began the replay of last May’s Champions League final with energy, pace and most importantly, finishing as Reus was able to head home a ball following a Sven Bender header. Robert Lewandowski, prized as another Bayern addition, looked to double the score a few minutes later, but his goal was nullified by an offside call.
Guardiola’s Bavarians showed their composure and venom as Shaqiri demonstrated his worth by twice troubling Weidenfeller, with the veteran goalkeeper able to shut out the Swiss midfielder. A contest marked by end to end action saw Lewandowski again come close to scoring but for a fine save by Starke in the Bayern net. The half ended with Dortmund leading 1-0.
Arjen Robben found Bayern’s equalizer nine minutes following intermission, with a headed goal resulting from Lahm’s cross. The score was knotted only for two minutes, though, as van Buyten inadvertently gave Dortmund the lead back when his attempted clearing header of a Gündoğan cross instead was deposited in Bayern’s goal. Klopp’s men doubled their lead a minute later, as Gündoğan ended a run with a pause and shot that caromed off Bayern’s far post and into goal for a 3-1 Dortmund lead.
The Bavarians, in their classic red kit, were far from beaten yet. The Lahm-Robben combination fashioned another score in the 64th minute, as Lahm’s pass to Robben allowed the Dutchman to twirl and fire off a lethal shot that put Bayern back in the match, down only a goal. Thomas Müller appeared to equalize with ten minutes remaining in regulation following a sublime feed from Thiago, but instead Müller’s shot hit the woodwork. The game’s final goal came late, with Dortmund newcomer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang playing provider. The former St. Eitienne man, who’d entered the match in the 72nd minute, latched onto a ball and presented Reus with a golden pass that the 23 year-old converted for his second goal of the match to finalize the result at 4-2 and put his club on stage to lift the SuperCup trophy. Bayern continued to fight til the final minute, but a weak shot by Pizarro, a lovely Robben cross that no one could get onto and a sliding poke-away by Weidenfeller to break up another Bayern opportunity left the Bavarians on the short end of the final score.
Saturday’s DFL SuperCup had much of the intensity and excitement of last year’s Champions League final, with only a few of the hiccups that a preseason match usually provides. With Dortmund’s yellow wall in midseason form, a big-game atmosphere was present, and both clubs cooperated in putting on another great advertisement for the attractiveness of German football.
The SuperCup result showed that, once again, the Dortmund whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Kloppo’s boys look like they will overcome the departure of the ultra-talented Gotze and remain a strong and exciting club once again as they have previously when other key BvB operatives such as Sahin, Lucas Barrios and Shinji Kagawa left the fold. Dortmund will not go quietly into that good night, but plan on making a full-on challenge for glory in the upcoming season despite the massive talent and financial health of Bayern.
Undoubtedly the most imposing club currently in world football, Saturday’s match ended the illusion that Bayern’s 2013/2014 would be a relatively easy stroll through the park en route to garnering numerous trophies. Dortmund, along with a talent-laden Schalke side and perhaps a Bayer Leverkusen side that appears to have done well in replacing its outgoing players, will make sure of that.
Guardiola is still experimenting with riches at hand. Moving players into different positions, mixing lineups, trying different tactical formations, means that the SuperCup loss isn’t much of a step backward for coach or club. Even without Götze, Franck Ribery et al, in the SuperCup starting XI, Bayern’s attack looks fluid and menacing. with Arjen Robben especially deadly early on. Thought by some to be, like Mario Gomez, surplus to Guardiola’s requirements, Robben has been a force in the preseason. displaying supreme confidence and thriving in the post-Heynckes era.
What one can assuredly take from Saturday’s SuperCup match is simple — the upcoming Bundesliga season should remain very competitive and display, week in and week out, a feast of first-class football, with both Bayern and Dortmund ready to take on all of Europe.
Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Großkreutz, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer – Bender (Kehl 46′), Sahin – Blaszczykowski (Aubameyang 72′), Gündogan (Sokratis 88′), Reus – Lewandowski
FC Bayern: Starke – Lahm, Boateng, van Buyten, Alaba – Thiago – Shaqiri (Schweinsteiger 67′), Kroos (Dante 86′), Müller, Robben – Mandzukic (Pizarro 75′)
Header courtesy of bundesligafootball.co.uk