BVB desperately need three points against the Bavarians at Signal Iduna Park, so they should not get caught up in the hype surrounding their former favourite’s homecoming
By Stefan Doring
When Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund step onto the Signal Iduna Park pitch on Saturday in Germany’s answer to El Clasico, all eyes will firmly be on one man: Mario Gotze.
The 21-year-old Germany international left BVB for the Bavarians in the summer and, having sat out the two sides’ previous clash – a 4-2 win for Jurgen Klopp’s side in the DFL-Supercup in July – through injury, he is set to make his first return to the stadium he once called home. And he shouldn’t expect a cheerful reception.
Shortly before his dramatic move to the Allianz Arena, Gotze had spoken of how Dortmund was a labour of love for him, assuring supporters that he would be there for the foreseeable future. A few weeks later, they were given a bitter slap in the face when it was announced that he was joining their biggest rivals.
|LONG LIVE THE KING
Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp claimed he was speechless for days after finding out about the transfer. Banners were hung up cursing his “love of money”. However, ahead of Gotze’s return, CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has pleaded for fans to remain calm: “Whistles wouldn’t be justified. Mario doesn’t deseve that.”
However, while sporting director Michael Zorc does not want to see Gotze booed by 80,000 people after 12 years of service for the club, he conceded that, “No-one is so naive as to think that he’ll be received with a standing ovation.”
Gotze’s transfer to Bayern did not just see his standing fall in the Ruhr, with an August survey showing that his value in international advertising has dramatically tailed off since leaving Signal Iduna Park.
History does not bode well for Gotze, either. The last player to cross the divide was Torsten Frings, in 2004. When he returned to his old home, BVB raced into a 2-0 lead, prompting the home fans to mock his decision to leave them.
In spite of everything, Gotze himself is looking forward to returning to his old stomping ground. In an interview with Kicker this week, he spoke of what would be “one of the hardest” moments of his young career, but said he was curious as to how he would be received.
The young star’s departure still stings, as far as the Dortmund supporters are concerned. One does not have to look far or hard on fan forums to find words of disdain for the 21-year-old and it is likely that every touch he takes on Saturday will be greeted with a chorus of boos.
||“No-one is so naive to think that he’ll be received with a standing ovation”
– Michael Zorc
Others, though, will be happy to ignore the furore surrounding Gotze. BVB may have lost a great player to one of their rivals, but they picked up the tidy sum of €37 million, with which they bought Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who is far from an inadequate replacement. Indeed, some supporters are asking: who needs Gotze?
The Dortmund faithful must also remember what he did for the club. He may have left long before his potential was reached, but he played his role in the club winning two Bundesliga titles and one DFB-Pokal. That he moved elsewhere for a lucrative contract and a successful future is, rightly or wrongly, just a part of modern football.
So, perhaps ignoring the sideshow of Gotze and getting behind the players who still wear yellow and black is the best thing the fans could do. Dortmund need three points too much to dwell on the one that got away.