In the last couple of seasons this has turned into one of the biggest matches in Europe if not the best of them, regardless of the competition, this time being the quarterfinal of the German Cup, as Bayern Munich host the team their dethroning for the league title this season, Borussia Dortmund.
Despite the 17 point gap between the sides in the league in Bayern’s favor, the previous matches between the two sides this season tell us that there’s hardly a difference between the sides. Sometimes, a team that’s better than everyone else has a match up problem with a certain opponent, and Dortmund are that kind of team for Bayern.
Bayern opened the season showing things are changing, beating Dortmund 2-1 in the German Super Cup, but it wasn’t the kind of display to erase five consecutive losses to Dortmund, winning two consecutive league titles at the expense of Bayern, or wash the bitter taste of the 2-5 loss in the German Cup final a few months earlier. In the league, when Dortmund visited the Allianz Arena, their compact approach once again made things very difficult for Bayern, with the match ending in a 1-1 draw.
No team in Europe is in the kind of form Bayern are – conceding only two goals in 2013, but both of them in matches that weren’t even close: The 3-1 win against Arsenal and the 6-1 win against Bremen. You can forgive Manuel Neuer and his defense for losing concentration when things get a little bit too easy. The attack is a different matter, scoring at least 2 goals in 8 consecutive matches. They’ll be missing Franck Ribery from the lineup due to a red card, which means Arjen Robben might get a chance to start.
For Dortmund, it’s a clean bill of healthy for the team, but Klopp might choose to give some players a rest, with a league match in the weekend and Shakhtar Donetsk, probably the most important match of the season for Dortmund, who have been focusing more on the Champions League this season, waiting in a week’s time. They key for them will be finding away around Javi Martinez who has been sensational in recent weeks, and Iklay Gundogan finding the freedom to push his team forward.
Prediction – Too close to call, even at Bayern. Two very similar teams with similar footballing philosophies, although Bayern do have the talent edge in this one, not to mention the confidence. This one looks like going into extra time.