Hitzfeld 'fascinated' by Sammer-Zorc rivalry ahead of DFL-Supercup clash

Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has admitted his fascination in the rivalry between Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc and his Bayern Munich counterpart Matthias Sammer.

Hitzfeld coached both sides and former players in a stellar managerial career, taking over the reins at Westfalenstadion between 1991 and 1997 and subsequently at Bayern from 1998 to 2004 and again from 2007-08.

The duo were team-mates in the early 90s, with Sammer coaching Die Borussen to the Bundesliga title in 2002 before igniting the current rivalry between German football’s two biggest clubs ahead of the DFL-Supercup match this weekend. Der General‘ offered his views on both men in an interview.

“I brought Mathias Sammer to Borussia Dortmund from Inter, he wasn’t particularly happy in Italy,” the 63-year-old told Bundesliga.de

“So then, we were working together, and he was always was one of the leaders of the team, he wasn’t the captain, Michael Zorc was. But he was always critical, and calling things into question. With him, it was always relevant criticism, aimed at helping the team being successful.

“Zorc had been the captain for years before I joined Dortmund, he was a leader as well. He invariably put the team before himself. He had come up the ranks there himself. He was very popular of course. He always represented the team’s interests and was always an easy captain to work with.

“Obviously, I am fascinated by this duel between Zorc and Sammer. But I think they are two personalities who each play a supporting role to the coach, and it is the coach who is always in the public eye, not the sporting director. And that’s how it should be in the future.

“Now they’re going head-to-head. That’s just the passage of time, when you have two former players taking over in top positions, and that’s something that German football profits from.

“I think both are heading into the German Supercup with very high expectations, it’s a chance for them to see where they stand, as well as being a prestigious duel.

“Dortmund were very clearly the dominant side last season, while Bayern ended up with nothing. That will be a real thorn in their side of course. Now is the start of a new season, this can give them a pointer as to what they can achieve for the rest of the season. As far as that goes, there is a lot more at stake for Bayern than Dortmund.”

Sunday’s DFL-Supercup clash at the Allianz Arena kicks off at 20:00 CET.

Bayern Munich – Borussia Dortmund Preview: Bundesliga rivals face off in traditional curtain raiser

The last few months of last season were taxing for Bayern, and the Bavarians already have an number of injury problems to contend with at the start of the new campaign. Full-backs David Alaba (stress foot fracture), Rafinha (pulled ankle ligaments) and Diego Contento (hairline foot fracture) all picked up pre-season injuries, severely limiting the veteran coach’s options. Philipp Lahm should slot in on the right-hand side of defence, and the former Real Madrid coach has hinted that Brazilian midfielder Luiz Gustavo could be used as a makeshift left-back.

That leaves Toni Kroos to drop back alongside Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, who will step in for Bastian Schweinsteiger (ankle), in the deep-lying midfield positions, with the traditional triumvirate of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller behind debutante Mario Mandzukic, who will deputise for Mario Gomez as he recovers from ankle surgery.

Xherdan Shaqiri, Dante, Tom Starke and Claudio Pizarro could make their bows for Bayern since arriving at the club this summer, and Emre Can could be given a chance to impress from the bench, given the injuries to his midfield colleagues.

Meanwhile, Marco Reus is expected to make his long-awaited debut for the club that he left as a teenager in 2006, and should slot in behind Robert Lewandowski. Mario Gotze was set to take Shinji Kagawa’s old No.10 role, but has been struggling with an eye infection and is not expected back until the start of the Bundesliga.

Having missed much of the tail end of the last season, Sven Bender is fully fit and set to take his place in midfield at the expense of club captain Sebastian Kehl, with Roman Weidenfeller taking on the armband in his place.

Elsewhere, Jurgen Klopp should name the same starting line-up that beat Bayern 5-2 in the DFB-Pokal final in May. Oliver Kirch, Leonardo Bittencourt and Julian Schieber could make their first appearance for the German champions since their summer moves to Signal Iduna Park.

  • Both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have won this competition four times in their their respective recent histories. Only Werder Bremen have matched their tally.
  • The last time the Bavarians triumphed in the Supercup was in 2010, the last time they were fresh from a Champions League final defeat. Miroslav Klose and Thomas Muller got the goals in a 2-0 win over Schalke, Dortmund’s Ruhr rivals.

  • Out of Bayern’s projected starting line-up, only Luiz Gustavo did not feature at Euro 2012. Barring Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, who represented Netherlands and France respectively, every player turned out for Germany.
  • Bastian Schweinsteiger was born and brought up in Rosenheim, the same Bavarian town as Dortmund midfielder Sven Bender.
  • Borussia Dortmund have come out on top the last five times these sides met, completing a league double over Bayern in the last two campaigns before their 5-2 thrashing of Die Roten in the DFB-Pokal final.
  • Jurgen Klopp’s side last triumph in the competition came against Bayern in 2008, in an unofficial edition of the Supercup.
  • Dortmund defender Mats Hummels started his career at Bayern Munich before securing a loan move to Signal Iduna Park in 2008. The switch was made permanent a year later.
  • Die Schwarzgelben‘s Bundesliga triumph last season saw them retain their status as German champions. The last time Bayern achieved back-to-back titles was in 2004-05 and 2005-06.

Schweinsteiger set to resume training

Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has received some encouraging news from the treatment table in the build-up towards the DFL-Supercup match against Borussia Dortmund as influential midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is set to resume training action.

The Germany international picked up an ankle injury in last week’s LIGA Total! Cup, and Bayern initially feared for a serious injury.

Nevertheless, an early comeback seems on the cards and Schweinsteiger could even make the squad for Sunday’s match.

“He’s been working on sports rehab for the last few days,” Heynckes told reporters.

“The injury wasn’t particularly serious and all the pain has gone now. Will he make the squad for Sunday’s game? We will have to wait and see how much progress he has made.”

Sunday’s Supercup kicks off at 20:00CET.

Dortmund's Watzke reveals positive relationship with Hoeness

Borussia Dortmund general manager Hans-Joachim Watzke has revealed that he and Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness have a good relationship with one another.

The Bundesliga giants have had a number of well-publicised rows over the last year as Jurgen Klopp’s side snatched the national title from under their Bavarian counterparts’ noses.

The two clubs are currently gearing up for Sunday’s DFL-Supercup clash, and Watzke has now admitted that the on-pitch rivalry has not affected his friendship with the former West Germany international.

“We recently talked a lot in Hamburg,” he revealed to Bild. “I have a lot of respect for Uli. I think it is the same on his part. We have a very strong relationship.”

Hoeness recently attracted widespread censure after he claimed that Mario Gomez was not a “great player”, and although Watzke accepts that he would have approached the situation differently, he believes the 60-year-old is entitled to his own opinion.

“I would certainly have done it differently. But everyone must decide for themselves.”

Die Roten have long been credited with an interest in Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski, but Watzke denied allegations that he has received a formal bid for the Pole.

“I have not been contacted by Bayern concerning Robert. He plays for us anyway. Until 2014 at least – preferably even longer.”

Last season saw Borussia Monchengladbach and Schalke make surprise Bundesliga challenges, and the 53-year-old is expecting stern competition as his side look to win a third consecutive title.

“I am convinced that in addition to Bayern, Schalke and Leverkusen will also play a role. Gladbach have also improved enormously. We set realistic goals. Thinking about elsewhere is not relevant for us.”

I am ready for the Bundesliga, says Shaqiri

Bayern Munich attacking midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri is confident that he is fully prepared for the rigours of the Bundesliga after his recent move from Basel.

The Switzerland international has been widely tipped to have a big future in the game, and Die Roten won the race for his signature earlier in the summer.

The 20-year-old is hoping that Sunday’s DFL-Supercup clash with Borussia Dortmund will stand them in good stead ahead of the Bundesliga season.

“I’m naturally ready for the league,” he told TZ. “These teams have always played for the title. Borussia Dortmund are our strongest opponents.

“We have a lot of pressure on us, and you can feel it. But I think that I can handle it well. It spurs me on even more. It’s a completely different world to Switzerland.

“There is a lot of competition, and that’s an important thing.”

Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund kick-off on Sunday at 20:00CET. The Bavarians begin their Bundesliga campaign against Greuther Furth on August 25.