A new season is on the horizon and, as always, it shall be kicked off by the traditional curtain-raiser of the DFL-Supercup between German powerhouses Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München at a packed Westfalenstadion.
Borussia Dortmund enjoyed a fine return to prominence, the season of last, and early into their friendlies, that form continued to show. Early wins over SpVgg Erkenschwick, Wuppertaler SV and FC St. Pauli across Germany and Austria boded well for the upcoming China tour.
A demolition of José Mourinho’s Manchester United in Shanghai — which saw new signing Ousmane Dembélé score quite the impressive goal — was soon shadowed by a technical loss to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on account of a penalty shootout.
A drab showing against Premier League side Sunderland FC resulted in a draw, before a trip to Switzerland resulted in a loss to Basque Giants Athletic Club to cap off an inconsistent pre-season
On the flip side, the Bavarians went from strength-to-strength after their double-winning season. A late comeback from SV Lippstadt was fought off, before a narrow victory over Carlo Ancelotti’s predecessor was won by Erdal Öztürk at the Allianz Arena.
On their tour of the US, Bayern partook in an entertaining draw to AC Milan, before losing on penalties to the Italians. However, their frustration was soon taken out on Internazionale, as countryman Julian Green fired his side to an emphatic win with a 28-minute hat-trick.
In a fitting end to the expedition of the one of the world’s biggest countries, two of Europe’s best faced-off in New Jersey, but, despite dominating the game, it was Real Madrid who ran out as the winners.
It comes as no shock to know both sides have dominated proceedings in contesting the Supercup. So much so, that three of the last four have been fought out between Bayern and Dortmund; the latter winning two of those.
Despite the league being a loose two-horse race, the first of last season’s two fixtures in the media-dubbed ‘der Klassiker’ reflected Bayern’s dominance over the last several seasons; cruising to a big 5:1 victory at home. In the reverse tie, Dortmund needed a win to keep their title hopes alive, but the match played out to a tense draw, with both sides having opportunities.
After easily dispatching of semi-finalists Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen, Germany’s big two met in the final of the DFB-Pokalfinale, at the Olympiastadion, for the third time in five years. Much like the earlier tie at the Signal Iduna Park, the match was rife with electricity, but, in the end, a penalty shootout gave Bayern their second trophy of the season.
As a result of losing yet another player to their league competitors, as well as İlkay Gündoğan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to both sides of Manchester, a great expenditure was undertaken in order to sow the wounds of losing three crucial players. Smart purchases came in the form of Raphaël Guerreiro, Marc Bartra, Mikel Merino and Emre Mor, before being forced to splash out on André Schürrle; as Jakub Błaszczykowski shortly went the other way.
Over in the champions’ corner, transfers were, as always, big. Mats Hummels retuned to Munich, as CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge saw fit to raid the Dortmund locker again, and Euro 2016 winner Renato Sanches — national teammate of Guerreiro.
As per reliable news outlet kicker, these are the teams:
BVB – Bürki; Passlack, Sokratis, Bartra, Schmelzer; Castro, Rode; Dembélé, Götze, Schürrle; Aubameyang.
FCB – Neuer; Lahm, J. Martínez, Hummels, Alaba; Kimmich, Vidal, Thiago; Müller, Ribéry; Lewandowski.
Given it is strictly not a major piece of silverware, the managers of both teams are unlikely to field full strength teams, as is indicated above.
Of course, the main focus will be on Mario Götze and particularly ex-captain Mats Hummels who, like Sebastian Rode, crossed the intensifying divide. Both Götze and Hummels were victim of unflattering banners from the Gelbe Wand, come the end of last season’s Rückrunde, to put it lightly.
For der BVB, Neven Subotić, Erik Durm and Marco Reus are ruled out for Sunday’s mega clash; the latter expected to be out until the first Bundesliga match against Mainz.
Good news for Bayern comes in the form of Jérôme Boateng and Franck Ribéry’s return to training, but there remains big doubts over Douglas Costa, Renato Sanches, Arjen Robben, Xabi Alonso and, as always, Holger Badstuber.