The only thing worse for Borussia Dortmund than losing star playmaker Mario Gotze to archrivals Bayern Munich was the timing of the shocking transfer news.
Reports emerged this week (confirmed by the clubs, per FIFA.com) that 2013 champions Bayern Munich had matched the buyout clause in Gotze's contract of £31.5 million, and that the rising star will make a move to the Bavarians over the upcoming summer transfer window.
A bitter, bitter blow for a club that was starting to promise so much in world football, but one that was compounded by the fact that it came just a day out from their Champions League semifinal, when Bayern proceeded to destroy Barcelona 4-0 in the opening leg.
Who released the information we'll never know, but there is little doubting it was a leak. After all, why else would it happen just days before a crucial game when—as we've since found out—the deal had been in place for almost two weeks?
The coincidence seems extremely unlikely, with it likely designed to try to throw Dortmund off their game and derail their focus for their must-win match.
And there's no doubting that it will.
The 20-year-old Gotze has been superb for Dortmund this year and has quickly established himself as one of the top playmakers in Champions League football.
Moreover, Dortmund were finally showing that despite Bayern's big title win in the Bundesliga this season, they too were capable of mixing it with the best in Europe and certainly weren't that far behind the Bavarians in terms of talented players.
However, just days out from arguably their biggest game all season, Dortmund now have to deal with this.
And as Jurgen Klopp alluded to, it certainly isn't ideal:
It could have been worse: it could have happened a couple of hours before the game. But on a scale of one to 10, this is a nine. We all know why it has come out now. We don't know why the people who have leaked this have done so at such a delicate time. We can only speculate...
Yet, as the enigmatic coach went on to suggest, there's no reason why the transfer news will completely rob Dortmund of their focus or momentum. And there's no reason why they can't still beat Real Madrid on Wednesday:
We're hurt but this makes us even more determined. I don't know why they would release this now but if they want to make it so that we do not win, I can tell them that they will not succeed...
After all, this is still the same dominant side that is yet to be beaten in the Champions League—the only team that can claim such a record this season.
They have won all five of their home games (including a defeat of Real Madrid) and have proved themselves to be one of the most lethal counterattacking and defensively solid teams both in Germany and right throughout Europe.
Dortmund have a rich abundance of young talent at both ends of the pitch and are more than capable of stopping Madrid—regardless of the circumstances.
Gotze—the man who has seemingly sparked the entire issue—will still play for them, and he'll still likely star on the night. As will all the other Dortmund players who have made themselves Champions League legends throughout the course of the competition this year.
The same courage that Dortmund showed to score two goals in the final two minutes against Malaga will come to the fore once more as they deal with another enemy and another adversity.
They might be dealing with it on more than one front in this game, but there's no doubting that they have the talent to overcome whatever's thrown at them.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Gotze—whatever.
Dortmund are too disciplined to let this affect them too much and too talented for it to impact their play. They'll prove that to be true on Wednesday night when they walk off the Westfalenstadion with their heads likely held very, very high.
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