The icing on the cake
After the Champions League draw of 2012/2013 presented one group consisting of four champions of four countries, many people thought that the last game day and the match between Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City would be of decisive quality. Who would have ever thought that Borussia will march through this group, winning it and already qualifying for the next round after five matches have been played? Borussia is still undefeated and will be accompanied to the Knockout stage by Real Madrid so that the match against Manchester City is only important for the English guests who have the opportunity to make it to the Europa League if they could win in Dortmund while Ajax Amsterdam loses away at Santiago Bernabeu.
Because everything is already decided for Borussia Dortmund, many people wondered how motivated the team would be in the last match of the group stage. It is the twelfth week Borussia has to play during a week we call an "English week", with a match on the weekends and one during the week. With two matches in Bundesliga and one cup match against Hanover left, there would be a point in saving energies and sending players on the pitch who usually did not get that much time to prove themselves. Even though Jürgen Klopp states that he wants to see a squad which is willing to invest everything they have got to win the match, he will have no other choice than to make several changes to the team which gained one point in Munich on Saturday. Sebastian Kehl, Neven Subotic and Sven Bender will not be able to compete, the appearances of Gündogan, Kuba, Götze and Piszczek are not even sure. Therefore, we will see a totally different team, but Klopp says it is also a good thing because everyone in the team deserves to hear the Champions League hymn. Second keeper Mitch Langerak, however, will not get that opportunity since the coach stated that Weidenfeller will be playing. But it would be no big surprise to see Oliver Kirch, Felipe Santana, Moritz Leitner and Julian Schieber in the starting line-up. And there is absolutely no problem with it. Borussia worked hard to advance to the next round early, now they can profit from it by saving energies before the next Bundesliga match against VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Speaking about our opponent, the officials of Manchester City will not be very satisfied with the performance in this year's Champions League. The English champion never matched the expectations and only gained three points with three draws, the one in the first match-up against Borussia being very lucky. We remember the penalty given in the last minute after Subotic was supposed to play the ball with his hand and Borussia not making the big win away after a very strong performance. Now the only straw left for City is to qualify for Europa League and stay in European competition... but is that something they really want? The Europa League has decreased in the value ever since the cup has been introduced and several big clubs seemed not to be interested in risking too much in the matches on Thursdays. City's big rival Manchester United qualified for the Europa League last year but did not last long after they never presented their best line-up during the matches. However, City will do everything in their power to gain the third place in group D but I am pretty sure that the eleven players – whoever they will be – of Borussia will be motivated enough to keep the clean undefeated streak of BVB alive and not to lose the last Champions League group match at home. Furthermore, a win would be another million Euros and points for the UEFA coefficient and let's be honest, it would be kind cool of cool to get the Scheichs out of European competition and to help a club like Ajax Amsterdam to find a place in the Europa League, wouldn't it? And some sort of revenge for the late equalizer in the first meeting with City would be nice as well.
You see, there are more than enough reasons for our black and yellows to be highly motivated to win this game. Even though it would not matter at all if Borussia should lose this match, it would be the little cherry on a big bowl of ice cream to win the match at home. Needless to say, Borussia has already made the fans happy during this year's Champions League and will hopefully continue to do that, but around 65.000 fans in the once again sold-out Westfalenstadion deserve another great performance by the Borussians... and I am pretty optimistic they will get it.
Master of group D: Weidenfeller - Kirch, Santana, Hummels, Schmelzer - Gündogan, Leitner - Perisic, Reus, Großkreutz – Schieber
Manchester City: Pantilimon - Zabaleta, Lescott, Nastasic, K. Touré - Javi Garcia, Barry - Milner, Nasri, Sinclair – Dzeko
Referee: Mazic (Serbia)
Attendance: 65.829 (sold-out Westfalenstadion)