Grosskreutz: BVB beat Bayern without Gotze before

The energetic winger has admitted that the youngster’s absence is a blow, but is still confident that BVB can emerge victorious in Saturday’s clash

Kevin Grosskreutz has stressed that Borussia Dortmund have previously shown that they can beat Bayern Munich without Mario Gotze and is optimistic about their chances of winning Saturday’s Champions League final at Wembley.

Gotze sustained a muscular problem during the semi-final loss against Real Madrid and suffered a setback in training this week, but the Germany international remains confident that his side can cause an upset and bring home the trophy.

“It’s very bitter that Mario can’t play. I feel really sorry for him, especially as he also missed last year’s DFB-Pokal final. But we should not forget that we also won that game without him,” Grosskreutz told Bild.

“We are once more the underdogs, but I don’t mind that role to be honest. I know very well what we are capable of.

“We obviously want to win the cup. That would be fantastic for us and for the fans.

“I was there when Dortmund won the Champions League in 1997 and it was an unforgettable experience.”

Saturday’s encounter at Wembley kicks off at 20:45CET.

Gotze absence points the way to Bayern glory

With the 20-year-old absent through injury, the Marco Reus will be charged with the task of stopping Javi Martinez from dictating proceedings in the middle of the park

By Jonathan Wilson

About a month before Borussia Dortmund beat Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Champions League, their coach, Jurgen Klopp, was asked how his side had twice come out on top of games against Jose Mourinho’s team in the group stage. Easy, he replied: shut down Xabi Alonso and everything else follows.

He must have regretted being so open when Dortmund faced Madrid again, but the principle held true. Xabi Alonso is the player who sets Madrid’s rhythm: the majority of moves flow through him. So Mario Gotze harried him every time Madrid had possession and, when Dortmund got the ball, rapidly trotted off to overload on one flank or the other with Ilkay Gundogan advancing from deep in midfield to monitor Alonso.

Bayern Munich don’t play in quite the same way but their shape is similar to Madrid’s and they have a tendency to play through Javi Martinez. Logic, then, would suggest that if Gotze had been fit, he would have performed a similar role on Martinez to that he performed on his fellow Spaniard Alonso. With Gotze ruled out with a muscle injury, it seems most likely that Marco Reus will move into the centre with Kevin Grosskreutz taking his place on the left.

Gotze is also excellent at pulling wide from that central position to create triangles with the winger and full-back on the flank and that is something Reus must try to emulate, not just for the creative opportunities it offers but for what it may do in unsettling Bayern’s attacking full-backs, Philipp Lahm and David Alaba.

They will have a difficult task anyway with both sides operating with attacking full-backs and wide men who cut in – Alaba and Franck Ribery against Lukasz Piszczek and Jakub Blaszczykowski on one wing, and Lahm and Arjen Robben against Marcel Schmelzer and (probably) Grosskreutz on the other. But it will be made that much harder by the knowledge that Reus is looking to drift behind them every time they go forward.

But that’s all assuming Klopp goes with a 4-2-3-1, his usual formation. Both sides use a 4-2-3-1, both press high up the pitch and look to retrieve the ball early, and both look to dominate possession.

Their respective styles could be described as a more muscular, more aggressive form of tiki-taka. The difficulty, of course, is that both teams can’t control possession.

Bayern, who have been second to Barcelona in possession and pass completion stats for the last two seasons, adapted when they played Tito Vilanova’s side, sitting deeper and playing more on the break. Given recent form, it seems likely that Dortmund, for all their success in pressing Madrid to distraction, will be the ones who cede ground in the final.

Certainly that is the pattern of meetings between the sides this season. Dortmund did play with a 4-2-3-1 in the home draw between the teams earlier this month, but that was very much a phoney war, with the title race decided and neither coach wanting to give too much away before the Champions League final.

Far more relevant is the game before that, a DFB-Pokal match in February. Then, as in the league meeting in December, Klopp seemed to decide that meeting Bayern shape-for-shape, style-for-style would be to play into their hands. Bayern, after all, have won the title by 25 points this season; their squad is stronger and so in a straight fight they are likely to prevail.

In the cup game, Klopp used a 4-3-3, with Grosskreutz brought into midfield in place of Blaszczykowski and Gotze shifting to the right. He’d done something similar in the league game at the Allianz Arena, using Blaszczykoswki more centrally with Gotze again taking his place on the right wing. In the league game, the problem was that it left Toni Kroos free as Sven Bender tried to close down Martinez and, although Dortmund got away with a 1-1 draw, they were fortunate to do so.

In the cup clash, Dortmund were more disciplined, and noticeably more restrained in their pressing. This time Grosskreutz handled Martinez – albeit from a deeper position than Gotze would in a 4-2-3-1 – and Bender picked up Kroos. The problem then, though, was that Bastian Schweinsteiger – and Martinez to an extent – without a central creative midfielder to worry about, were able to push forward, as, surprisingly, did Dante from centre-back. Bayern controlled the first half and, although Dortmund came into the game more as they began pressing in the second, they were still fortunate only to lose 1-0.

Kroos is currently absent through injury, meaning Thomas Muller will play centrally on Saturday. His ability to find space is vital to how Bayern play, the factor that sets their fluidity in motion. Mario Mandzukic, the central striker, is not as technically gifted as his Dortmund counterpart Robert Lewandowski, but his energy is extraordinary and he will constantly be pulling wide looking to use the space behind the full-backs when they advance.

The way Robben and Ribery operate on the flanks has arguably been Jupp Heynckes’ greatest triumph this season: neither are necessarily known for their discipline but both have been persuaded to track the opposing full-back – largely because Kroos’ emergence and the signing of Xherdan Shaqiri mean there are enough options to see them dropped if they didn’t follow instructions.

So twice Klopp has tried 4-3-3 against Bayern and twice it hasn’t worked, leaving midfielders untended. Given how well the system worked against Real Madrid and given how Dortmund have had the better of clashes against Bayern (a weaker Bayern, it’s true) in recent seasons, the temptation must be to go back to a 4-2-3-1 – and that means that Reus, trying to replicate Gotze’s role, will be the key figure.

There is a strange sense of destiny behind Dortmund after their astonishing quarter-final victory over Malaga and they are certainly dangerous enough to spring an upset, but Bayern finished 25 points clear in the league and Gotze’s absence makes them even stronger favourites.

Makaay: Bayern will do it this time

The Dutchman has backed the Bavarians to win the Champions League at last this term and thinks they can cope with the pressure

Former Bayern Munich striker Roy Makaay is certain the Bavarians will emerge victorious from Saturday’s Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund.

The Bundesliga champions were beaten by Chelsea in last year’s showpiece, while Inter proved to be too strong in the 2010 final.

However, the Dutchman is confident that Bayern have what it takes to bring the trophy home this time around.

“I think Bayern have a very good chance. If the team play the way they did in the semi-final, I’m confident they’ll win,” Makaay told the official Bundesliga website.

“It’s a one-off game and you can never tell what might happen, but that said, I’m sure Bayern are going to do it this time. Dortmund are not bad at all, but Bayern are a little bit better.

“Every opponent’s awkward in a final, but Dortmund have nothing to lose. Bayern have got this far for the third time in four years and they lost on both the previous occasions.

“The pressure’s on them – but then, they’re a club who are used to dealing with pressure.”

Makaay represented Bayern between 2003 and 2007, winning two Bundesliga titles during his time in Munich.

Klopp: I started to believe after Malaga

The Borussia Dortmund boss says his side’s dramatic victory over Manuel Pellegrini’s men gave everyone reason to aim for the Champions League title

Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp says he started to believe that his side could go all the way in the Champions League after their dramatic comeback against Malaga.

The Schwarzgelben scored two goals in stoppage time to defeat the Andalusians and reach the semi-finals of the competition, where they beat Real Madrid.

They now face familiar foes Bayern Munich at Wembley in the showpiece and Klopp says the last-eight win inspired his side.

“It was after this quarter-final win and particularly the way it came about, that we thought it could work out, that we had a chance to go to Wembley,” he told the club’s official website.

“It may be a surprise that we are in the final, but it’s not a sensation.”

Klopp went on to say that his tactics are based on teamwork and the willingness to help your fellow players.

“Football is a team sport,” he explained. “The whole point of this game is to help each other improve.

“With the exception of your family members, your team-mates should be the people you feel most comfortable around. That’s my idea of football.”

Meanwhile, club CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke believes that BVB are the only team capable of overcoming Bayern Munich, who stormed to the Bundesliga title and beat Barcelona 7-0 over two legs this season.

“I think there is only team at the moment that can beat Bayern – and that’s us,” he mused. “Of course everything has to fall into place and we have to play at the top of our game. But, yes, we have a chance. In any case, we will stretch Bayern to the limit.”

Watzke went on to hail his side’s group-stage campaign as the making of the team, with BVB having finished first in a group containing Ajax, Manchester City and Madrid.

“When the draw was made, I wasn’t as disappointed as some other people who don’t know us very well,” he added. “Back then I said: ‘this is the kind of group in which heroes are born.’

“I guess I’ve been proven right, but of course we never expected to make it this far when the season began.”