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Borussia Dortmund- favourites for Champions League final against Bayern Munich

May 22, 2013

Dortmund

You must have been joking, if you would have said that Borussia Dortmund will feature in the 2012/13 Champions League finals in Wembley. They were pitted in a ‘group of death’ featuring Real Madrid, Ajax and Manchester City. Progressing from such a group stage must have been a victory itself for Dortmund, who surprisingly did not lose any game in the initial stage (and neither have they so far). Here on, they were branded as under dogs, but now the same under dogs have jumped into the finals as favourites. Not all may agree with me on this. But the confidence that has been generated amongst the Dortmund players after their performance in group stages has not been shattered, only strengthened them as a unit so far thus making them a strong contender for Champions League final 2012/13.

Wembley would witness two teams who are high on confidence after their impressive spell in Champions League defeating top teams of Europe. Dortmund’s route to the final includes win against teams such as Shakhtar Donetsk, Malaga and Real Madrid, whereas their opponents have defeated big clubs such as Arsenal, Juventus and Barcelona. So, Dortmund after defeating such clubs may consider Dortmund to be an easy task and might take this game easily as compared to their previous matches. A case of over confidence? Dortmund has been so consistent and to their benefit they have been improving with every passing game. Dortmund might have just peaked at the right time to win the Champions League for the second time in their history.

Bayern Munich may be a stronger of the two sides on paper, but the way, Jurgen Klopp, Dortmund’s manager, has handled his team, Dortmund technically with the little resources he has makes them a favourite. Head to head comparison may reflect that Bayern Munich possesses a strong team, but the beautiful game is not played on a sheet of paper with due respect to Bayern Munich, which comprises of a star-studded line up. In the 1997 Champions League finals, Dortmund was playing against the top side of Europe during the time, Juventus and turned out victorious. They would be expecting the same to happen when they clash against Bayern Munich, who is also said to be one of the top clubs in the world at the moment.

One should not read into their record in Bundesliga, where Bayern Munich finished ahead of Dortmund by 25 points. Can one remember Chelsea, who were not even placed in the top four teams, when they won 2011/12 Champions League title. Domestic records are thrown out of the window, when it comes to European nights. Those who watch Bundesliga closely would consider Bayern as favourites for they have been so dominant, but the story has been different when it comes to Champions League. Dortmund’s performance goes one notch higher during Champions League matches and could yield a positive result for the team in black and yellow stripes. The last time these two teams clashed was on 4 May 2013 with the game ending in a draw.

One advantage that Dortmund has over their opponents is the presence of strong players with great physical attributes such as Lukasz Piszczek, Sven Bender and Ilkay Gundogan. The diminutive players of Bayern Munich such as Ribery, Robben will not find it easy against their opponents. Dortmund physical attributes may be the difference between the two sides (but, Bayern also has physical players in their ranks as well). Robert Lewandowski is another player, who has a similar body structure, who is going to play an important role if they are to win the Champions League. Jurgen Klopp would pin his hopes on their talismanic striker, who has scored 10 times in the competition. Lewandowski has always been tightly marked, but he has been clever in pulling players towards him and thus creating chances for others.

The movement of the Dortmund players has been top class, to say the least. With the defenders playing higher up, it gives their midfielder more chances to possess the ball, as after which they play a crisp and fast passing game. If the Bayern defenders switch off the game for a moment, the Dortmund players would be within a shouting distance of the goal. They are a team who believes in direct football and in all these, it is Lewandowski, which these players look up to for all moves and goals.

Lewandowski would be determined to do well in the finals, for he is aware of the fact that the whole world would be watching him play especially top European clubs, who wants to sign him for next season. A good performance on the night would increase his value in the transfer market more, which is only going to benefit him. So, Lewandowski would come up with his best game to impress various club scouts who would be present during the game. It is a win-win situation for the player.

Gotze, Reus and Blaszczykowski performances may not have been noted as much as Lewandowski, but their performances on the field cannot be ignored. In fact, Dortmund’s success also drives on the performance of these trio of players, who have been consistent in the tournament so far. They are not only capable of providing chances for Dortmund striker, Lewandowski, but also score one for themselves. It depends on how Klopp uses his players, in which he has excelled better than anyone else.

They do not depend on their star players so much as compared to the Bayen stars, whose success is primarily driven by Robben, Thomas Muller, Frank Ribery, Mario Gomez and Schweinsteiger. But, when it comes to Dortmund, it is their never say die attitude, which helps them cross the line. This can be justified from their win against Malaga, where they came from a goal behind to win the game. It spoke about the character of the Dortmund players and their determination.

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