The end of the German domestic season is in sight, with the Bundesliga's top two, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, set to do battle in the DFB-Pokal Cup final on Saturday evening.
Bayern, of course, won the league at a canter this term, sealing the title in record time and ending the campaign a full 19 points clear of nearest challengers Dortmund. The two also finished in the same order last season, while Bayern also beat Dortmund in last year's Champions League final.
This German cup final thus gives BVB one final opportunity to restore some pride for their fans over their more successful rivals:
Yesterday's news, but Franz Beckenbauer says Dortmund are 60:40 favorites over Bayern for the Pokal final. Key words "based on current form"— Clark Whitney (@Mr_Bundesliga) May 7, 2014
Dortmund won the last league meeting between the pair, claiming a 3-0 triumph away from home in April.
Although it was after the title had already been won and thus had nothing tangible riding on the outcome, it was still certainly a game which Bayern wanted to win, and they were nothing short of shocked at the final result.
One of the big keys to Dortmund's play was the incredible speed at which they were able to attack after winning the ball:
While pressing has long been a part of their game under Jurgen Klopp, it was often matched last season by Bayern Munich's athletic, strong midfield, which pressed high up the field to win the ball back and create danger.
Where Dortmund seem to have improved over the second half of the season while Bayern have altered their tactics is in the transition phase: One remains rapid and incisive, while the other is perhaps somewhat more deliberate, patient and probing rather than slicing.
Bayern's Altered Midfield Base
Pep Guardiola has changed Bayern's midfield layout significantly this season, moving from the double pivot of last year to a one-man centre with four further attacking options ahead.
This lone, central anchor has changed roles and faces, too, with Philipp Lahm notably coming into that area of the pitch from the start of games along with the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javier Martinez.
Rosbifs (@LesRosbifs) January 27, 2014
A recent change saw Guardiola ask his full-backs when in possession to move into that central area, allowing the central midfielders to push further forward and attempt to use movement to create even more options ahead of the ball.
While this was an interesting tactical development and perhaps one for future reference, it would be a dangerous one to employ against a side as good on the break as Dortmund. With Mario Gotze in particularly devilish form at the back end of the season, extra room to manoeuvre in the channels is not likely to be a gift Guardiola intends on giving Klopp's charges.
The tie promises to be an intriguing end to the German domestic season, as Dortmund look to get one over Bayern and the Bavarian side attempt to end the season by retaining two of last season's three trophies.
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