Created on 18-04-2008 at 00:00 AM
Bayern face Borussia Dortmund for the second time in six days on Saturday evening, but whereas last Sunday’s clash was a league fixture, precious silverware is at stake in the DFB German Cup final at the Berlin Olympic stadium this weekend. The bookmakers’ odds reflect the clubs’ contrasting fortunes, strongly favouring champions-elect FCB, the most successful team in Cup history, over a BVB side shorn of confidence after a dismal recent run.
”As always, Bayern are favourites,” acknowledged Ottmar Hitzfeld, looking for a third Cup triumph as a coach. “We’re utterly determined to win.” The General, still revered in Dortmund for leading the Ruhr club to Bundesliga and Champions League glory, described the last final of his illustrious club coaching career as “a dream come true – although there’s no room for sentimentality, even against Dortmund.”
Down but not out
Following Sunday’s thumping 5-0 victory and a gritty 3-1 midweek win in Frankfurt, Bayern are brimming with confidence ahead of their 16th appearance in the final. By contrast, Borussia are reeling from what BVB boss Thomas Doll branded a “slaughter” at the Allianz Arena last week, and a 3-1 home defeat to Hanover on Wednesday. Ahead of Dortmund’s fourth final appearance, striker Alexander Frei likened the club to a floored boxer: “Either he’s counted out, or he picks himself up and fights on.”
Therein lies the danger for overwhelming favourites Bayern. “Let’s not think we’ve won it already. It won’t be as easy as last Sunday,” warned Uli Hoeneß, telling the players to forget the Bundesliga encounter. “It’s a whole new game, and if we’re careless, it’ll be difficult. But if we concentrate, we can win the Cup.”
Two pairs of shoes
Ahead of his 67th and last Cup tie, Oliver Kahn turned to footwear for his analogy. “It’s like two completely different pairs of shoes,” the club captain said, calling on his team-mates to banish last week’s romp from their thoughts and remain “fully focused” as the 38-year-old chases a record sixth winners’ medal.
”Anything that happened in the past no longer counts when you get to the final. None of us need think it’ll be easy, because a final is another world,” admonished Kahn. “We’ll see a completely different Dortmund this time. You can never start thinking you only have to show up and the trophy’s yours. Dortmund have even less to lose than they did a week ago. They could pull off something huge against us.” Bastian Schweinsteiger pursued a similar theme: “Dortmund won’t want a repeat of what happened to them at our place. They’ll put up a proper physical fight.”
Hitzfeld feels the same. The 5-0 hiding “will just make them more determined, and they’ll be much more aggressive.” However, the General remains confident ahead of the showdown with his former club. “As long as we don’t lose our heads and keep our focus on the task at hand, we have every chance on Saturday.”
Hitzfeld is still waiting on final calls from the medical unit regarding doubtful quartet Miroslav Klose, Mark van Bommel, Marcell Jansen and Willy Sagnol, although all four travelled to Berlin. The only confirmed absentee is Hamit Altintop, now in rehab training after fracturing a metatarsal. But regardless of the starting line-up, the stars are desperate to claim the first major trophy of the campaign. “We have to win on Saturday – and I’ll be perfectly happy if it ends 1-0,” Hoeneß insisted.