Borussia Dortmund aim to ruin Bayern Munich’s plans to farewell Pep Guardiola with a seventh title in three years when Germany’s top teams meet in Saturday’s crunch German Cup final.
Victory over their main rivals at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium would give Bayern the league and cup double before Guardiola leaves for Manchester City next season.
After Bayern lifted the Bundesliga title last weekend, for a record fourth season in succession, Dortmund now want the cup to compensate.
“We will do everything to win,” promised Guardiola, who admits it will be tough against “the best Borussia (team) in history”.
Borussia finished 10 points behind Bayern in the league and want to avoid losing their third straight German Cup final.
Dortmund controversially lost the 2014 final 2-0 to Bayern, after extra time, and were beaten 3-1 by Wolfsburg in last year’s final.
As midfielder Sven Bender put it, Dortmund has “no desire to lose for a third time in succession in Berlin”.
Bayern’s captain Philipp Lahm says Guardiola has not only improved the quality of Bayern’s football, but helped develop each member of the star-studded squad.
Now Lahm says the squad must raise their game to win one last title before Carlo Ancelotti takes over as head coach next season.
“We have to improve, we weren’t so impressive in our last few games,” said Lahm.
“We are up for Berlin and we want the double to show that we have had a very good season.”
There is plenty of spice in the Olympic Stadium showdown with a sell-out crowd of 74,322 expected.
“This is actually the best final that one can imagine in Germany,” enthused World Cup-winning coach Joachim Loew.
– Hummels under pressure –
Mats Hummels will be playing his final game before becoming the third Borussia Dortmund star to join Bayern in the last three years, after Mario Goetze and Robert Lewandowski.
The Dortmund captain expects a difficult afternoon: “It’s a strange feeling. Every mistake I make will be endlessly dissected.”
The German league’s top three strikers will be also be shooting it out.
Top-scorer Lewandowski, the first foreigner to score 30 Bundesliga goals in a single season, will partner Bayern’s Thomas Mueller, who netted 20 league goals.
But Dortmund’s Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who hit the net 25 times in the Bundesliga, has predicted he will score twice in the final.
“We don’t see ourselves in the favourites’ role, it is a final against a team who were up with us right until the end of the Bundesliga season,” said Lahm.
“We know what’s coming our way and that Dortmund will be a tough nut to crack.”
In Germany, there is a tradition of the winning team toasting their victory with a ‘beer shower’, throwing over-sized glasses of beer over each other after the final whistle.
But the German FA (DFB) has banned the celebrations, partly because the teams are sponsored by rival beer manufacturers, neither of which is a sponsor of the governing body.
– Holiday spirit –
Dortmund thrashed Bayern 5-2 in the 2012 German Cup final and Bayern’s star Franck Ribery wants no repeat of the debacle four years ago to risk dampening their party spirit.
“In 2012, we were second three times (in the Champions League final, the Bundesliga and German Cup final), that was a disaster for my holiday,” joked the French winger.
“In 2013, we won the treble and that was a super holiday.
“We have a great chance and we should use it, as you never know what will happen next season.”
Dortmund lost the 2014 final 2-0 in extra-time after they had been denied a goal — headed by Hummels of all people — in normal time and the Ruhr Valley club has clearly not forgotten.
“The last few finals against Bayern were decided by wrong decisions,” said director of sport Michael Zorc.
Bayern will be without injured winger Arjen Robben.
Centre-back Javi Martnez is struggling with an ankle injury, while Xabi Alonso should be fit after recovering from bruised ribs.
Dortmund are missing defensive midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who is recovering from a dislocated knee, but winger Marco Reus should play after getting over a cold.