Götze. Gomez. Greatness. You already read lots of things about this match, many of them hyperboles trying to make you expect a battle of epic proportions. But let’s face it: While both teams want to win to increase and reduce the gap respectively, it’s not a do-or-die match for either. Here’s the preview.
The season didn’t start well for Dortmund. Nobody expected them to dominate like they had done not even a year ago but the loss of the heart of the midfield, Nuri Sahin, turned out to be a bigger problem. Ilkay Gündogan couldn’t replace him (he already lost his starting spot) and, to make things worse, Lucas Barrios sustained an injury while playing for the Paraguayan national team. Dortmund had to face now extra-motivated opponents, a fate every champion has to and most struggle to cope with, without the maestro and the goalgetter. Still, it was a surprise to see them struggle that much (11th after 6 BL matches).
To get it out of the way, the Champions League campaign has been a disappointment so far due to an incredible lack of coolness in front of the opposing goal and an unexpected lack of focus in defense.
The good thing about national leagues is that you play very regularly. Mistakes can be fixed. You can fight until the so famous wake-up call finally appears. Football teams are fickle, one moment can change the entire posture, the entire mindset. A good, recent example is Bayern’s win against Juventus almost exactly two years ago. A beaten, almost dead squad came back to life and, in the end, was only one win away from celebrating one of the most successful seasons in club history.
Dortmund’s Juventus was Mainz. It wasn’t a nice match. At half-time, Mainz was leading. One week after conceding two very late goals in Hannover, the yellow and black necks seemed to be broken. They equalized 20 minutes into the second half but a tie against another struggling and undoutably weaker side wasn’t a good result. And it wouldn’t have been a good result if it wasn’t for Lukasz Piszczek. The right-back’s last-minute shot somehow found the back of the net and Dortmund won.
Since then, they’ve won 4 of their last 5 Bundesliga matches. Robert Lewandowski almost miraculously started scoring, young central midfielder Moritz Leitner stepped up and Mario Götze started producing again. One might say that it’s not the best moment to play against them.
They’ll be missing center back Neven Subotic but will they really miss him? Many Dortmund fans are of the opinion that he’s been the main weakness lately. Granted, his replacement Felipe Santana isn’t majorly experienced, but what we’ve seen from the Brazilian so far looked rather promising. Left-back Marcel Schmelzer is a bit doubtful, Chris Löwe would replace him.
You know whom Bayern will have to do without: Bastian Schweinsteiger’s shoulder is the Bayern fan’s biggest enemy and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is suspended after being sent off in Augsburg. To spread some optimism, Arjen Robben is at least fit enough for the bench. The Dutch winger could be Heynckes’ not-so-secret weapon late in a close match. Based on that, expect the what Don Jupp seems to see as best lineup available (Rafinha apparently isn’t a part of that, in case you haven’t noticed yet), while Jürgen Klopp will probably rely on Sebastian Kehl instead of Moritz Leitner to strengthen the defense and Kevin Großkreutz instead of Ivan Perisic because the former’s stamina is perfectly suited for intense pressing. This is what it would look like:
Boateng – van Buyten – Badstuber – Lahm
Gustavo – Alaba
Müller – Kroos – Ribery
Großkreutz – Kagawa – Götze
Kehl – Bender
Schmelzer – Hummels – Santana – Piszczek
I don’t think that I have to state yet another time that I’d prefer Kroos as central midfielder, I’m not too confident that Gustavo and Alaba can handle the immense pressure they’ll face, I fear that there’ll be many turnovers. Prove me wrong, guys.