The Quarterfinal of the 2012-2013 DFB Pokal. Although the various league/association cups aren't usually the highlight of the football world, this is an interesting week: Bayern vs. Dortmund (fast becoming one of the world's best rivalries), Barca vs. Real Madrid (with Real struggling domestically and Barca in the CL), and Middlesbrough vs. Chelsea (two teams that are evenly matched and of about equal importance in the world of football). Both teams fielded medium-strong line-ups this past weekend, meaning both will be putting out a strong line-up for this one. How strong?
I'm inclined to think Bayern puts forth the best line-up possible. But after Robben shredded Werder Bremen this past weekend, what's our best line-up? And is it still worth a bit of rotation, just to keep the stars fresh and the reserves active? Here's my guess:
Mueller - Kroos - Robben
Martinez - Schweinsteiger
Alaba - Dante - van Buyten - Lahm
Ribery is suspended, but the club's official site says that van Buyten is back to full health. Rafinha is out with flu-like symptoms. Gomez still has plenty in the tank, but my hunch is that he might be our instant-offense guy for the second half.
I think most Bayern supporters have a good handle on who we're facing; if not, you can find some info here concerning Der Ballspielverein Borussia 09 e.v. Dortmund. I'm sort of at a loss to figure out who has the mental advantage going into this one: Dortmund has been struggling domestically, and their CL recent draw vs. Waxtap was credible, but not brilliant. And the last time either side won this match-up, it was Bayern in the pre-season DFB Super-Pokal. But Bayern still hasn't beaten Dortmund in a competition match in a couple years, and last we thought we were strong going into a Pokal match against these guys, we got stomped. The fall semester's tie settled nothing, with Dortmund failing to get the win that would put them back in the title race, and Bayern failing to get the win that would exorcise the spell our recent rivals have cast.
One thing's for sure: only one team (at most) will wake up Thursday morning with their dignity intact.
For BVB, Lewandowski was held out of this past weekend's match, but he's back in training and should be ready play (more on him in a minute). I expect Lewandowski, Reus, Goetze and Kuba to the attacking foursome, and they've given Bayern's back line plenty of trouble in the past. Goetze in particular really has our number. I guess we haven't thrown van Buyten at him in a while, so maybe that match-up will throw him off his game ... somehow. As a DvB fan, I can admit the thought on those two in a 1-v-1 doesn't fill me with confidence.
Elsewhere in the Competition
Today, Mainz battles Freiburg while Kickers Offenbach face VfL. In addition to our match, tomorrow also features Stuttgart vs. Bochum. Kickers Offenbach and Bochum are the remaining underdogs, and Mainz is having a good year, I guess, but the winner of Bayern vs. BVB has to be considered the heavy favorite to lift the cup this year.
- The match will kick off at 8:30 local time, and at the time listed below in the area from which you're currently reading this. Note that this is 15 minutes earlier than the usual midweek (CL) start time.
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
We'll be carried live on ESPN 3 in North America.
- Lewandowski's agent says he's made a decision about this summer, and hints that it probably won't be to stay at Dortmund. Kaiser Franz weighs in to say that Bayern doesn't need him. Remember when Beckenbauer said we should offer 50 million Euro for Neuer, and everyone said "don't listen to him?" Well, we SHOULD be listening to him now.
We'll be here tomorrow afternoon with the Match Day Thread. Thanks for reading.