Having sealed the Bundesliga title at the weekend, Bayern approached last night’s German Cup semi final clash with Borussia Dortmund with the treble dream very much alive. But by the end of a pulsating match, manager Pep Guardiola was left wondering what had gone wrong as Jurgen Klopp’s side dumped Bayern out of the cup and marched to the final. Bayern looked good for the win after former Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski beat the offside trap to score Bayern’s opener in the 29th minute, albeit at the second attempt. The German champions came close on several occasions to adding a second goal but the heroics of Dortmund goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak and the woodwork kept the score to 1-0 and the tie wide open. So when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang popped up at the back post to knock in Henrikh Mikhitaryan’s cross goal pass, it was game on for Dortmund with the momentum swinging wildly back in their favour. Both teams had chances to seal the victory in normal and extra time but in the end the match was to be decided by penalties.
With Manuel Neuer in goal, Bayern should have been favourites but the wet condition of the pitch aided Dortmund with both Philip Lahm and Xavi Alonso slipping in their run up to their penalties. Both players missed their attempts handing Dortmund the advantage. With their players converting for a 2-0 lead, up steps another former Dortmund player Mario Gotze who scored the late winner for Germany in the World Cup in the summer. Gotze was a fan favourite during his time at Signal Iduna Park but there is no love lost now between the player and the Dortmund fans after he joined Bayern two summers ago. It’s no surprise then when a large cheer erupted from the Borussia Dortmund fans when Gotze was denied by a fine save by Langerak putting Dortmund within inches of final. In the end Manuel Neuer’s penalty which rattled off the cross bar settled the tie and Dortmund progressed to the final.
For Klopp who is set to leave Dortmund at the end of the season after seven thrilling years at the club, it could be the perfect send off. A final appearance with the chance of one last piece of silverware for the club and fans who he has treasured so dearly for so long. The final will take place on the 30th May and will be against either Wolfsburg or this seasons surprise outfit in the cup, Arminia Bielefeld. The north Rhine-Westphalia club which plays in the third tier of German football have shocked many in the country with a stunning run that has seen them beat Hertha BSC, Werder Bremen and Borussia Monchengladbach on route to tonight’s semi final clash. They lie within 90 minutes of their debut appearance in the DFB Pokal final and a dream clash with Borussia Dortmund. Standing in their way however is one of Germany’s best teams this season Wolfsburg who are on course to finish second behind Bayern in the Bundesliga table. Under the guidance of Dieter Hecking, Wolfsburg have improved season over season building an impressive side along the way. He has employed an exciting brand of attacking football with former Chelsea players Kevin De Bruyne and Andre Schurrle playing key roles. The pair, along with the lethal Bas Dost upfront and ever improving Max Arnold in midfield have propelled Wolfsburg up the table and turned the team into genuine title contenders once again. Having dispatches Heidenheim, RB Leipzig and Frieburg on route, their run to the semi finals has been fairly easy. Going into the match with Bielefeld they are strong favourites to progress and given their current form could upset Klopp’s farewell party with a much deserved win.
Bayern meanwhile will turn their attention to the Champions League semi final clash with Barcelona. Its a return to the Nou Camp for Guardiola; the place where he made his name and it will not be an easy game but for the mastermind Pep he will no doubt have several plans up his sleeve in order to leave victorious. Stopping the man who gave him much of that success, Lionel Messi will be the main problem so Guardiola may deploy the evergreen Philip Lahm in a new role to nullify the threat posed by the Argentine. Barcelona manager Luis Enrique is already turning up the heat on his long time friend Guardiola by suggesting that its not the best draw for Bayern who will face a tough task if they are to beat Barcelona. Enrique’s mind games will not have an effect on Guardiola, nor will his teams subsequent departure from the German Cup. The treble dram may be dead for this season but for Guardiola there is still a lot more to win, most notably the Champions League.