This early K.O.-summit should be a spectacle again. As was last the case two and a half decades ago, record champion FC bayern munchen and enduring rival borussia dortmund will meet before the quarterfinals of the DFB cup.
"This is an anticipated highlight of the season," said bayern coach jupp heynckes ahead of the german clasico. The 72-year-old recalled before the eighth-final spectacle on wednesday (20.45 o’clock) to "great games with all the ingredients that fubball has to offer". And borussia is also looking forward to the cup perennial favorite as "a real highlight" after the change in mood under new coach peter stoger.
Both german soccer giants have annual ambitions of reaching the final in berlin. "A fubball-fest", as heynckes stressed on tuesday before this explosive third-round match to close out the year. "There are two teams playing that have helped shape german soccer, when i think of the legendary champions league final alone," said the 72-year-old, with whom bayern won the triple in 2013.
In the cup competition, two of the past three meetings between the 18-time cup winners from munich and the four-time champions borussia were only decided on penalties. "They’re just awesome games, rough games," mused former dortmund man mats hummels. "In terms of excitement, in terms of importance, it’s the biggest game in germany."
Heynckes will be without returning trainer arjen robben for the next edition of the competition. The dutchman, who completed the entire program with the team for the first time again on monday, did not want to take any risks. Manuel neuer and thiago are injured anyway. According to stoger, the participation of star striker pierre-emerick aubameyang is questionable for dortmundern. "It would not be a problem to change the system a little bit. There are many options in terms of the quality of my team," said stoger.
Heynckes himself has different memories of the showdown with dortmundern. In the 2012 final, there was a 2:5 debacle, a year later, the borussia was the transit station on the way to the triple with the quarterfinal victory (1:0). "We are in a good mood and confident that we can mobilize all our forces again to stay in the cup," explained the coach-routineer, who wanted to continue his almost flawless winning streak. Advancing is – of course – also BVB’s wish. "Our goal is berlin, then you will normally meet the bavarians at some point. They don’t drop out that often beforehand," stoger remarked dryly.
The last time a four-legged final was played this early in the competition was in 1992. Back then, BVB prevailed after penalty shootouts in the second round. Overall, the cup record speaks for the munich team with six bayern wins and four BVB victories. "Bayern go in as favorites. But we saw last year that you can win in munich even if it’s 2-1 to bayern," said dortmund midfielder julian weigl. In the semifinals of the previous season, dortmund turned the game around after being down 1:2 and won 3:2.
At the end of difficult hinserien with the coach dismissals of peter bosz and carlo ancelotti both want to reach the quarterfinals at all costs. For a "wonderful christmas," as bavaria president uli hoeneb described it.
After the supercup and bundesliga games won by bayern, this is the third duel this season – and after the separations of bosz and ancelotti, also the third different coaching constellation. "We have shown in the last two games that our will and our attitude to win is there," said stoger.
FC bayern is a home power in the cup, losing only eleven games in front of its own crowd. BVB has always come out on top in the past 17 cup play-offs. The last defeat came in the quarterfinals in 2013, when the team lost 1-0 in munich to heynckes.