While the one-off domestic cup trophies are brushed away in many countries, the Klassiker has allowed the DFL Supercup to reclaim significance in Germany. It is the showcase that reveals where Germany's top two clubs, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, are at in their preparations for the upcoming European campaign.
The most enthralling aspect of the 2014 rendition is that neither team mirror a form of itself. Both have beta tested new tactics and new key players, and both have had to cope with the extended vacations of World Cup champions.
It will also be the first of two guaranteed returns for Robert Lewandowski to Dortmund, a place he migrated to after coming of age in the Polish league. He is in torrid form in preparation for his face-off with the Gelbe Mauer (Yellow Wall), an early opportunity that his teammate Mario Götze did not receive.
It will be the exciting clash it always is, and the match will be a benchmark which the rest of the domestic season is built.
The Match (106th Meeting)
Location: Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany
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FC Bayern: LWWWD
Bundesliga: 39 W, 28 D, 23 L
DFB Pokal: 5 W, 0 D, 2 L
UEFA Champions League: 1 W, 1 D, 1 L
DFL Supercup: 1 W, 2 L
Ligapokal: 2 W, 0 L
Largest Victory: 11-1 (Bundesliga: November 27, Munich, Germany)
Largest Defeat: 3-6 (Bundesliga: September 9, Dortmund, Germany)
The three center back formation has swept through Bayern like a storm, and after Pep Guardiola used the set up throughout the entire preseason, it now faces its ultimate test.
One just has to turn the clock back three months to look for a sample of what this type of set-up can do against Borussia Dortmund. With David Alaba and Bastian Schweinsteiger injured, the first-year gaffer elected to squeeze Jérôme Boateng, Dante, and Javi Martínez in the back. Bayern (controversially) kept the clean sheet and needed extra time to score, but they ultimately received the fanfare instead of Dortmund.
Will Gaudino Feature in the DFL-Supercup?
It seems that Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt will get the first choice on which Bayern players will play against Dortmund. Will young Gianluca Gaudino find his way into the midfield?
With a new season upon them, Bayern are likely to line up similarly to their long-time foe. Even though it feels like the band is back together, Guardiola is missing a few instruments. Rafinha (ankle) is ruled out for the immediate future, and after missing the MLS All-Star Game, Franck Ribéry (knee) is unlikely to dress either. The World Cup eight are still fresh off of vacation, so they might not be depended on, although Dante's and Manuel Neuer's extended shift could mean that both are ready to step right in.
Regardless of who is behind him though, Lewandowski will be the one to pay attention to as he returns to Signal Iduna Park for the first time. He has been fluid with the supporting cast thus far, but that cast might become a more blockbuster one depending on who is fit. He has scored five goals in five preseason matches thus far, and he will be favored to put one in against his former mates.
The flexibility Bayern has shown thus far has worked well at times, but their new set up will face an examination like none before in the preseason.
Projected Lineup (3-4-2-1):
Thomas Müller – Xherdan Shaqiri
Juan Bernat – Sebastian Rode – Philipp Lahm – Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
David Alaba – Dante – Javi Martínez
Bench: Tom Starke, Jérôme Boateng, Holger Badstuber, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Götze, Arjen Robben, Claudio Pizarro
Although his mixing and matching will not be as publicized as Guardiola's, Jürgen Klopp has tinkered with his set-up as well. The departure of Lewandowski has forced Klopp to be more creative with his front, most recently pairing a few of his new arrivals – Ciro Immobile and Adrian Ramos – with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front.
The shift in formation could be for similar reasons as Bayern's shift; Marco Reus (ankle) is not fit, and Jakub Blaszczykowski (knee) is continuing his progressions back to the first team. The cause may be for negative reasons, but the result is nonetheless positive to Dortmund.
"We have become more flexible and unpredictable," Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang told bvb.de last week. "That could even work to our advantage."
Neven Subotic was slowed with an infection before the club's match against Liverpool at the weekend, but he appears fit enough to be an option in defense. Matthias Ginter has returned from his vacation following the World Cup, as has Sokratis Papastathopoulos, while Roman Weidenfeller and Mats Hummels remain unavailable.
Dortmund will not have the vast man-advantage they had last season, so a recreation of their 4-2 domination a year ago will be difficult to replicate.
Projected Lineup (4-4-2):
Ciro Immobile – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Jonas Hofmann – Sebastian Kehl – Milos Jojic – Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Marcel Schmelzer – Sokratis Papastathopoulos – Matthias Ginter – Lucasz Piszczek
Bench: Hendrick Bonmann, Neven Subotic, Oliver Kirch, Sven Bender, Kevin Großkreutz, Ji Dong-Won, Adrian Ramos
This match will be fascinating for the mere fact that neither team resemble the ones that have battled for warm color supremacy over the past two seasons. Lewandowski could be the ultimate difference, providing the scoring touch that has served him so well in Supercups past. The midfield will be where most critical battle is fought, and if Bayern's World Cup players salvage enough of their winning form, they could find themselves hoisting the trophy.
Projected Score: Borussia Dortmund (1-2) Bayern Munich