Dortmund quietly confident ahead of Wembley final
DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp is well aware that most people expect Bayern Munich to win the teams’ all-German Champions League final. All he wants is for his players to make the most of their chance.
“Bayern are very sure of themselves and they feel confident of beating us for various reasons. After losing the final so many times it creates huge will to win,” Klopp said Wednesday, referring to Bayern’s two near misses in three years. “We don’t think we’ll win just like that. We think we have the chance to. That has to do us.”
Bayern will be the favorite at Wembley on May 25, especially after dismantling Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in the semifinals, but Klopp pointed out that there have been many upsets in football before. He especially referred to West Germany’s win over the famed Hungarian team at the World Cup in 1954, and German coach Sepp Herberger’s words before the final.
“He didn’t say, ‘We’re going to win this game.’ He said, ‘We can win this game.’ And I’m sure the Hungarians thought differently.”
No matter what happens, Klopp is determined to make sure his team enjoys the occasion following an “incredible journey” to make it to Wembley.
“It’s still extraordinary,” said Klopp, whose side overcame Spanish giant Real Madrid 4-3 on aggregate to reach the final. “You almost forget who we left behind. Such huge teams with such rich traditions. We’re enjoying the moment and we’ll enjoy the final.”
Dortmund came within minutes of being eliminated in the quarterfinals, only to score two goals in injury time to defeat Malaga 3-2. The improbability of that escape and the manner of Dortmund’s 4-1 win over Madrid in the first leg of the semifinals has fans in this football-mad city dreaming of winning the title for the second time.
Klopp, speaking before about 160 assembled journalists and 32 camera teams, was keen to downplay the euphoria and contain the excitement.
“I don’t pay attention to the stuff going on around the club. I don’t see how others get into a frenzy,” he said. “It’s great how everything is cast in a better light. But really, it remains just a football game.”
Not just any game, though. Even Klopp gets excited when he allows himself to think about lifting the most prestigious trophy in European football.
“If you want to achieve something, you really have to do your best and reach out the window, to be ready to dream,” he said. “It’s the only chance for us and the only thing I want — that this team can take this cup and put it in the club museum, to show how extraordinary this is. That’s all. We’re ready to try everything.”
A Dortmund win would ruin an otherwise perfect season for bitter rival Bayern, which ran away with the Bundesliga title in record fashion and is also the overwhelming favorite against Stuttgart in the German Cup final on June 1.
Mario Goetze is recovering from the left hamstring injury sustained against Madrid, but Klopp was confident the 20 year-old will be fit.
“Goetze is running again. We will intensify the training program toward the end of the week. The plan is for him to start training with the team next week. Then we’ll see. It’s all gone according to plan so far,” Klopp said.
It would be Goetze’s last game for Dortmund before his eyebrow-raising switch to Bayern. The attacking midfielder is considered Germany’s top prospect and Bayern is parting with €37 million to activate his buy-out clause.
“We didn’t want it but we have to accept it,” said Dortmund sports director Michael Zorc. “We won’t have these clauses anymore even if it means we lose one or two players.”
If Goetze doesn’t recover on time, German teammate Ilkay Gundogan will be expected to take his position behind Polish striker Robert Lewandowski.
“I don’t think it’s that difficult. I played there in the youth teams and know what’s required of the position. I know what I have to do,” Gundogan said.
Lewandowski, who has 10 goals in the competition so far, is reportedly another transfer target for Bayern. The Polish striker has refused to sign a new deal at Dortmund and Bayern’s interest has inflamed further tension between the sides.
“All of us, Robert included, are totally concentrated on this game,” Klopp said. “Afterward we can worry about such things. It’s a big if (he leaves). I’m presuming that he stays. I’m not even thinking about him leaving.”
Dortmund defender Mats Hummels, a former Bayern player, said the recent bad blood between the clubs provided no added incentive to win.
“Just reaching this final itself should be motivation enough for us,” Hummels said.
Dortmund beat Juventus 3-1 to win the trophy in 1997, its only previous appearance at this stage, and Klopp was keen to draw parallels in the challenge facing his side.
“Juve were probably the best team in the world at the time, with (Zinedine) Zidane and all those players. Dortmund had no chance before the game and look how that turned out. Of course it’s an inspiration,” Klopp said. “We want to make our parents proud. If we win, we’re not the best team in the world, but we’ll have beaten the best team in the world.”