With this weekend's biggest match on tap, we've already taken a closer look at Dortmund's recent rise to glory, as well as previewed the expected Bayern line-up. Now, we bring in a bit of expert opinion for a point of view from the other side.
As some of you may remember, Clarissa used to write over at The Offside's Borussia Dortmund page. She also writes a website called FussballGedanken - Gedanken zu Fußball, Politik, Gott und die Welt, in English und in Deutsch - and maintains a Twitter feed of a similar name. Clarissa was nice enough to drop in and answer a few questions ahead of this huge rivalry match. My questions are underlined, Clarissa's answers are in regular text.
BFW: The last 2 years have been pretty amazing for BVB. Have you been at all surprised at how well this young team has come together? In (say) the summer of 2010, I'm sure you knew they were under-rated and had the talent, but honestly, has this ride under Klopp been something of a surprise?
Clarissa: Well, when I started writing for the The Offside BVB blog at the start of the 2010 season, I wrote that I would consider a renewed Europa league qualification a decent result for the club. I think most BVB fans thought that the club was on an upward trend after the previous tough seasons by that time, but the speed of improvement and the incredible success over the last two seasons at least for me came unexpectedly and took my breath away! Two league titles, DFB pokal, it has been one heck of a ride for Dortmund fans over the last two years.
BFW: One of the many things that Dortmund has done well is replace players who seemed irreplaceable. Nuri Sahin, Lucas Barrios, and Kagawa were all key pieces in Dortmund title runs, but the club has managed to hold it together pretty well despite losing all of them. Is there any fear that more guys will walk after this season? Götze, 'Dowski, etc? At some point, are you worried there won't be enough left in the cabinet to re-stock?
C: Lewandowksi unfortunately looks on his way out, and particularly his agent has been quiet vocal about him leaving. I fear we won't be able to keep hold of him much longer, especially since his contract only runs until 2014. Apart from that, I don't think we are in an immediate danger to lose any other core players. Hummels, for example, has, according to the press, already rejected offers (including one from Bayern). I also think that Götze will stay for a couple of seasons yet, especially since we are now doing well in the Champions league. Talking of which, the sporting success of the last seasons has lead to a great improvement of Dortmund's finances so we can now afford more expensive transfers such as Reus who has done well this season. So I am confident that the club will be able to replace players that leave with adequate replacements.
BFW: Despite great domestic play last year, BVB washed out pretty early in the Champions League. This season, though, you guys have been dominating in one of the toughest groups, and have still been playing pretty well domestically (despite a few more slip-ups than last year). Do you think this is the result of a conscious effort to emphasize the CL on the part of Klopp, the Dortmund board, or the players? The numbers make it seem like "oh, they're finally taking it seriously," but actually you guys fielded pretty strong line-ups in the CL last season, but just couldn't consistently get wins. Is this year a case of the players showing extra commitment to continental play? Or is it just evidence that, as I sometimes suspect, everything is ruled by random chance?
C: I don't buy into the theory that Dortmund is prioritizing the Champions league this season. As you rightly say, we were fielding equally strong line-ups last season. I think Dortmund's improvement in the Champions league this season is simply down to more experience of how to play the European games, more squad depth, better luck (last season we had a lot of injuries to our midfield early on, had tons of chances but didn't finish them) and slightly less pressure probably also played a role. Last season everybody expected us to progress from a so-so group, this season the Group of Death meant that we could style ourselves as the underdogs against Real Madrid and Manchester City.
BFW: I know you used to write over at The Offside, and that you've been writing a "football and other stuff" site more recently. What's your background as far as training, experience, and/or football fandom? Anything else you'd care to share about where you're from, where you're going, and where people might be able to follow you?
Background: No formal training, just a big fan of everything to do with football and BVB and hoping to share some of that with other fans! You can find me talking about it under @fussballgedanke on twitter.
(5) Your prediction for tomorrow's match:
Prediction: Bayern 1-2 Dortmund. Gotta keep some tension in the title race ;).
So there you have it. Clarissa like a Dortmund win. Any thoughts? We'll be back tomorrow morning with the Match Day Thread, then throughout the day with recaps, responses, and video highlights. Thanks for reading.