Should Borussia Dortmund Play Mats Hummels in DFB-Pokal Final Against Bayern?

Lars Pollmann@@LarsPollmannFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2016

Dortmund's defender Mats Hummels reacts during the German first division Bundesliga football match Borussia Dortmund vs VfL Wolfsburg, in Dortmund, western Germany, on April 30, 2016. / AFP / Sascha SCH������RMANN / RESTRICTIONS: DURING MATCH TIME: DFL RULES TO LIMIT THE ONLINE USAGE TO 15 PICTURES PER MATCH AND FORBID IMAGE SEQUENCES TO SIMULATE VIDEO. == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE == FOR FURTHER QUERIES PLEASE CONTACT DFL DIRECTLY AT + 49 69 650050
        (Photo credit should read SASCHA SCHURMANN/AFP/Getty Images)

On Tuesday morning, confirmation finally arrived. "Mats Hummels has decided to return to his hometown Munich after having long and intensive thoughts eight-and-a-half years after his transfer to BVB," chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said in the club's official statement.

It's a punch to the gut for many Borussia Dortmund supporters. With Hummels, not only does a world-class centre-back leave the club, but also the leader, captain and face of the team.

ESPN FC's Stefan Buczko opined: "By handing in his captain's armband of the German vice-champions, the leader of BVB's rebellion against Bayern's monopoly is waving the white flag. Hummels is showing everyone in the league that resistance is futile and that he is prepared to ditch his BVB legacy for the likeliness of silverware."

Hummels will be reunited with Robert Lewandowski at Bayern.
Hummels will be reunited with Robert Lewandowski at Bayern.Boris Streubel/Getty Images

While the long-term ramifications of the 27-year-old's move to Bavaria are an interesting topic, a more pressing issue has arisen: Hummels' final match for Dortmund will be against his future club.

Many fans have called for head coach Thomas Tuchel to not select the captain for the DFB-Pokal final out of a fear that he might not be in it with all his heart.

Should Hummels play in the cup final? Here, Bleacher Report makes the case for both sides of the argument.

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Why He Should Play

Simply put, Dortmund are a much better team with Hummels taking command of the defence. The 2014 FIFA World Cup winner has been in inspired form and without a shadow of a doubt the most consistent defender in team's ranks since the turn of the year. 

What's the alternative? A partnership of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Sven Bender is unproven and likely lacks balance, while Matthias Ginter has played all of two-and-a-half games in central defence in the entire campaign.

Mats Hummels of Borussia Dortmund during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and VfL Wolfsburg on April 30, 2016 at the Signal Idun Park stadium in Dortmund, Germany.(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

Hummels has shown he can handle the pressure with an impressive performance amid a chorus of boos and whistles in the 5-1 win against Wolfsburg on Matchday 32.

In his own statement on Facebook (link in German) Hummels wrote (h/t Stephan Uersfeld of ESPN FC): "The encouragement I got after our home match against Wolfsburg, be it in the stadium, at the training facilities or the supermarket touched me deeply. It speaks volumes for the unique BVB fans and I appreciate it."

To beat the Bavarians, Dortmund will need all hands on deck and that includes the skipper. It's asinine to believe he wouldn't give his all.

Unlike at the Westfalenstadion, he'll have to fight for a spot in Bayern's hierarchy next season, and how could his new team-mates respect him if he didn't give a proper effort against them in his club's biggest game of the season?

Why He Shouldn't Play

Fans have every right to be upset with Hummels' way of handling his transfer publicly.

One has to imagine the last home match of the season against FC Cologne on Saturday will not be fun for the 27-year-old. He handled the pressure well against Wolfsburg, but that was a largely irrelevant match and hardly comparable to a cup final, let alone one against bitter rivals Bayern.

Hummels' every move leading up to and during the match will be under scrutiny. He wouldn't be the first player to crumble under that sort of pressure.

Prone to making mistakes even when he's in form—take the World Cup final against Argentina, for example—the defender could be a weak spot even though he'll try his best to impress against his future club.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 14: Mats Hummels of Borussia Dortmund looks dejected after the UEFA Europa League quarter final, second leg match between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund at Anfield on April 14, 2016 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

At the end of the day, it seems like a hypothetical question. Tuchel hasn't spoken about his captain since the move was finalised, while Watzke said that "we wish him and BVB that he will be shown the recognition he deserves in his last weeks in Black Yellow and that he leaves Dortmund holding the DFB Cup aloft."

Some fans may not like it, but the most likely scenario is that Hummels will lead his team out on the pitch one last time at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on May 21.

Lars Pollmann is a featured columnist writing on Borussia Dortmund. He also writes for You can follow him on Twitter.


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