The Klassiker, Germany's newest mega-rivalry, has one more chapter in its annual showcase. Exchanging blows all across Europe has made a silly annual slap fight into a constant struggle at the top of Germany's elite.
Borussia Dortmund is the only club in the past four years that Bayern München has struggled against, the Roten only mustering four victories in 13 matches against the Schwarzgelben. Just when Bayern appear to be the clearly better side, Dortmund storm back with a vengeance to even the playing field.
Now the two meet in the DFB-Pokal Final, both trying to salvage a season that has not lived up to expectations. Even though Bayern have already collected a trophy, the season accomplishments will loom hollow in the shadow of the best season in club history. Dortmund international profile has taken a step back as well, unable to shed an underdog label despite their recent successes.
After alternating domestic doubles the past two seasons, the final in Berlin will be the one that could define the 2010 decade as the two fight for German supremacy.
The Match (105th Meeting)
Location: Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany
Head: Florian Meyer
FC Bayern: 37 W, 8 D, 13 L – 93 YC, 2 RC
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Television and Streaming
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UK: BT Sport 2
: ARD Das Erste, ARD Live Stream
FC Bayern: WWLWL
Borussia Dortmund (4-2) Bayern München | Signa Iduna Park (DFL Super Cup)
BVB: Marco Reus (6', 86'), Daniel van Buyten (OG 56'), Ilkay Gündoğan (57')
FCB: Arjen Robben (54', 64')
Borussia Dortmund (0-3) Bayern München | Signa Iduna Park (Bundesliga)
FCB: Mario Götze (66'), Arjen Robben (85'), Thomas Müller (87')
Bayern München (0-3) Borussia Dortmund | Allianz Arena (Bundesliga)
BVB: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (20'), Marco Reus (49'), Jonas Hofmann (56')
1. Gerhard "Gerd" Müller, FCB – 15
2. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, FCB – 10
3. Lothar Emmerich, BVB – 8
4. Manfred Burgsmüller, BVB; Giovane Elber, FCB; Roy Makaay, FCB – 7
Biggest Victory: 11-1 (November 27, 1971, Munich, Germany)
Biggest Defeat: 3-6 (September 9, 1967, Dortmund, Germany)
Directing his first cup final at Bayern, Pep Guardiola will have to concoct the right formulas without all of his materials at his disposal. While he has had to do his fair amount of mixing and matching throughout the season, not having some of his most potent options is a huge hindrance which the magnitude of the playing field amplifies.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (knee), who left in the first half of the Bundesliga finale against VfB Stuttgart, is day-to-day after an MRI revealed inflamation in his left knee. Franck Ribéry (back), the best winger in Guardiola's chemistry set, does not believe he'll be able to put in a full shift.
"I feel great, but I don't think I can manage 90 minutes," Ribéry told the club website. "I can feel the pain in my back after training."
Nonetheless, the Rekordmeister have a the efficacy for a good showing. Guardiola has returned Javi Martínez to his more natural midfield spot, a move that allowed Bayern to cap off the Bundesliga season with three victories. In addition, Mario Götze should return for his third match against his former side, providing a quick, skillful player with attacking ingenuity.
The best players in the squad will suit up as Bayern attempts to wrap up their 10th domestic double.
[UPDATE 5/16/14 9:30 AM EDT]: Mario Mandžukić and Schweinsteiger (knee) have both been ruled out of the DFB-Pokal Final. Guardiola on Mandzukic: "He can play, it is my decision, that is all."
Projected Lineup (4-3-3)
David Alaba – Dante – Jerome Boateng – Rafinha
Bench: Lukas Raeder, Diego Contento, Daniel van Buyten, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Xherdan Shaqiri, Franck Ribéry, Claudio Pizarro
It was not necessarily the season Jürgen Klopp hoed for following their first UEFA Champions League Final appearance since 1997, but it was one to be proud of regardless.
Dortmund's back-line was ravaged throughout the season, only Kevin Großkreutz and Sokratis Papastatopoulos able to maintain fitness from start to finish. The wasteland in defense squashed any chance for the Schwarzgelben to usurp the Bundesliga title from Bayern, but the nature of the knockout competitions allowed them to remain competitive.
Klopp's youthful players contributed beyond expectations to keep Dortmund's European relevancy; Milos Jojic and Jonas Hofmann kept a pacy attack alive, and Erik Drum assisted Großkreutz fill in the defensive fitness gaps. To boot, the club's two biggest additions, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, are directly responsible for a quarter of Dortmund's goals this season.
Their pace is their potency, Guardiola labeling them as the greatest counterattacking team in Europe. Open matches are their friend, and they are a side that struggle in a compact match. No matter who plays, they will be a squad that will get after it and disrupt Bayern in any way possible.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1)
Marco Reus – Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Kevin Großkreutz
Milos Jojic – Sebastian Kehl
Marcel Schmelzer – Mats Hummels – Sokratis Papastatopoulos – Lukasz Piszczek
Bench: Mitchell Langerak, Erik Durm, Manuel Friedrich, Nuri Sahin, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Julian Schieber
The match will be the cliched war of attrition, and whoever concedes will be the losing party. The last time in the fixture that a team has surrendered the first goal and won was 2010, during which time the two German giants have undertaken eleven bouts. Bayern will need to either collect an early goal or hold off Dortmund until the halftime whistle, but with the Schwartzgelben buzzing like bees, the Rekordmeister will be hard pressed to keep Dortmund off the team sheet.