Germany: Bayern fears as Dortmund claim Double in fine style
Borussia Dortmund wrote a new chapter in their history when winning the DFB Pokal (German Cup) last night. Not content with winning the Bundesliga with a record total of 81 points , the Schwarzgelben (black and yellows) routed UEFA Champions League finalists FC Bayern 5-2 to claim the German league and cup double for the first time in the club’s history. Goals from Shinji Kagawa, Mats Hummels and a hat-trick from Polish striking sensation Robert Lewandowski gave Dortmund the cup for the third time, their first triumph in this competition since 1989, and underlined just how far the balance of power has shifted in German football over the last couple of years.
For a club like FC Bayern to come second is one thing, to come second in such a weak manner shows that Dortmund have made all the right judgements since coach Jurgen Klopp took over the helm nearly four years ago. They have shown great stability, consistency and have transformed themselves from a mid-ranking club back to a footballing power with a team able to mix the virtues of neat attacking football and an honest work ethic. FC Bayern, on the other hand, have allowed themselves to become embroiled in petty team squabbles, particularly between superstars Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, which is in keeping with the derogatory “FC Hollywood” tag with which they have been synonymous for decades.
Many could argue, with some justification, that Dortmund were aided by their early elimination from European competition whilst FC Bayern have had to juggle three competitions throughout the campaign. The longer rest periods inbetween matches has allowed Dortmund to focus their minds more thoroughly on domestic matters whilst the goal of reaching the UEFA Champions League final in their home stadium in Munich has pre-occupied FC Bayern’s campaign. With this in mind it will be interesting to see how FC Bayern will react to their German Cup final thrashing when they appear in their ‘home’ UEFA Champions League final against Chelsea FC next Saturday. Will the pressure and expectation fail Bayern once more, just like in 1999 and 2010, or will they re-group and put domestic misery out of their minds to win a fifth European crown? They certainly have the players and the talent, their performances against Real Madrid in the semi-finals are a case in point, but if the squad allows itself to get distracted before the big game then Chelsea could use that to their advantage especially as they have come back from early season adversity to claim one domestic trophy, the FA Cup, already this season.
It will also be interesting to see how FC Bayern will prepare themselves for next season. Rumours are rife regarding the impending departure of Arjen Robben who, along with Ribery, scored the consolation strikes for FC Bayern in the German Cup final. Champions Dortmund have already signalled their intent for the future by bringing in Marco Reus from Borussia Mönchengladbach and allowing Lucas Barrios, top scorer in the 2010-11 season, to move to Chinese outfit Ghangzhou Evergrande. FC Bayern will also need to bring in some fresh faces and get rid of some dead wood if they are to refresh themselves for future challenges. Whether they do that as European champions and take some of the gloss off Dortmund’s recent achievements remains to be seen.