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Berlin via Dortmund

Champions primed for epic cup battle

It’s still quiet in downtown Munich and Marienplatz square in front of the imposing Town Hall, but the Allianz Arena will be a cauldron of noise and colour when Bayern face Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Cup semi-final on Tuesday evening (Live in English from 20:30 CET on Twitter and FCB.tv Web Radio). Once again, the Reds are banking on enthusiastic support from the home faithful. “We need our Allianz Arena. We need our fans. We can’t do it without them. Let’s go for it!” Pep Guardiola urged.

FCB sealed the league title at the weekend with four matches to spare, but the city’s customary party locations were no more full than usual. The time for celebrations will come, promised Guardiola, hoping Bayern’s success in retaining the league crown stokes the fires of passion on Tuesday. “It’s a final tomorrow. We’re focused on this match alone,” the Catalan stated, “it’ll be very, very tough.”

Robben set to return

Any clash with Dortmund has an edge, and this one is Bayern’s final hurdle before a possible trip to Berlin in the cup. The men from Munich won both this season’s league fixtures against the side lying eighth in the Bundesliga standings, most recently by a 1-0 margin in Dortmund three and a half weeks ago. That was an important step towards defending the league title, said Guardiola, but in terms of his team’s display “it was one of our worst performances. We’ll have to play better on Tuesday.”

Fortunately, the selection problems at FC Bayern have eased a little in recent days. Bastian Schweinsteiger picked up an injury away to BVB on 4 April but is now back in action, while Javi Martínez might manage “a few minutes at least,” the coach said. Juan Bernat (ankle) should be fit, but there is still a question-mark over Rafinha (groin). And on Sunday, Mehdi Benatia and Arjen Robben both resumed the team training programme.

Guardiola would particularly welcome the return of BVB specialist Robben, who has nine goals in 14 appearances against Dortmund. “We need him. We’ve not had a player for the one-on-one situations recently,” commented the FCB coach, “Arjen isn’t a super-sub. If he’s fit, he plays. But let’s not forget he’s been injured for five weeks.” As always, the boss will leave it until the day of the match before finalising his line-up.

Klopp’s last FCB clash

Guardiola is expecting a fierce battle: “Dortmund are always very aggressive. That’s typical of all Jürgen Klopp’s teams.” Apropos Klopp, the 47-year-old will take on FC Bayern as BVB coach for the last time on Tuesday. “We have great mutual respect,” said Guardiola, “he’s a terrific guy. Our matches have always been tight.”

The last four showdown with Dortmund will be tight, closely-fought and emotional. “We’re very, very fired up for this match – and Dortmund will be just as motivated,” observed Matthias Sammer, “we’ll need a top-class performance, great unity and huge character. We’re determined to go to Berlin.” The hunger is even greater in the wake of the championship triumph. “It’s a big, important and honest title,” concluded the sporting director, “but we want more!”

Pre-match news from Dortmund:

  • Unavailable: Roman Weidenfeller (pelvic injury, sprain), Nuri Sahin (torn muscle)
  • Doubtful: Kevin Großkreutz (knee)
  • Coach Jürgen Klopp: “You have to beat Bayern if you’re going to win the cup, whether you meet them in the final or the semi-final. And now we’re up against our number one opponents. We have to be totally geared up for it. We want to take the initiative and influence the game as a whole, not just get at them every now and then.”