The story lines are indeed compelling: After a red-hot start to this campaign on all fronts, Bayern showed they were (gasp!) human after the winter break; only picking up three wins in the first seven matches of the Rueckrunde, and allowing Dortmund to overtake them in points for the Bundesliga lead. Meanwhile, BvB stumbled at the beginning of the season, losing three of their first six matches in the Bundesliga, and suffering an ignominious Champions League campaign that saw them tossed out in the group stages.
Without the pressure of Europe to worry about, Herr Klopp's young men got it together, suffering their last defeat way (waaaaaaaaaay) back in September, going unbeaten in 28 straight matches. Hats must be tipped to Dortmund, who managed to end this season amassing an astonishing 81 points! And while looking paltry in comparison, Bayern's 73-point-second-placed finish would have been enough to win it all in half of the last 15 years.
Die Schwarzgelben have a chance to win their first domestic double, while die Roten are looking for a bigger double and international glory. It will be hard, if not impossible, to put the thought of a fifth Champions League title completely out Munich's minds, despite the quotes coming out of the Bayern camp leading up to this match.
Arjen Robben has stated- and I think everyone would agree- that if he had a choice between the two, Champions League would win out. But if we are, like everyone says, fully concentrated on this Pokal final, Jupp Heynckes must field his strongest team. Yes, this includes players suspended for the Champions League final.
My Bayern starting XI: Neuer - Lahm, Boateng, Badstuber, Alaba - Gustavo, Schweinsteiger - Robben, Kroos, Ribery - Gomez.
I don't think Diego Contento will feature in this one, because out of our three CL final replacements, he's the one with the most sh... stuff together. Tymoschuk and van Buyten might get called in, depending on the scoreline: Although, I hardly think this is going to be a blow-out. And Thomas Mueller will feature as our super-sub.
Probable Dortmund starting XI: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - Guendogan, Kehl - Blaszczykowski, Kagawa, Grosskreutz - Lewandowski.
Only an attack that blistering can keep Mario Goetze riding pine, but he's sure to be the first off the Dortmund bench. Ivan Perisic and Lucas Barrios were BvB's two other subs in their 4-0 hammering of Freiburg. Lucas would love to feature as he is leaving for Guangzhou Evergrande, but again, I think a lot will depend on scoreline and fitness.
Unfortunately, Borussia Dortmund does best what Bayern Munich copes with worst: Press. That being said, neither match played this season was a blowout. Both were tight, hotly-contested affairs that ended 0-1 at the Allianz Arena and 1-0 at Signal Iduna Park. And when looked at from Bayern's point-of-view, the second match was winnable: Only Arjen Robben's penalty and sitter misses kept us from three points.
That's all water under the bridge, however. Does Bayern get revenge on four straight losses to Dortmund? Does Dortmund finally get their long-awaited double? Would a loss to Dortmund on Saturday deflate our hopes for glory the following week? Do Juergen Klopp's men get to boss it all over Jupp Heynckes'? You have to go back to Frankfurt to find a team that's beaten Bayern three times in one season. I'm gunning for our double, naturally, as if to say, "Yeah. You got the Bundesliga. But, we've got the cup. With one left to play for."
Auf gehts, Bayern! Kaempfen und Siegen!
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