Berlin, Berlin, we're going to Berlin!
Yes! We made it once again! Borussia Dortmund is travelling to Berlin! Not only for the last match day of the Bundesliga season, but also one week later for the final in the German DFB Cup. After the 2:0 victory against VfL Wolfsburg on Tuesday, many fans looked back in their memories to the year 2008 where Dortmund was in the cup final after a longer absence for the first time and after horrible years and yet another difficult season under coach Thomas Doll. Now, six years later, Jürgen Klopp has taken responsibility of the black and yellows, Borussia won the trophy in 2012 and was in the final of some tournament (DFB cup and Champions League) for three years in a row now. Nobody could have expected such a development, nobody could have ever dreamed of making it this far. However, dreams come true sometimes and on Tuesday, they did. Berlin, Berlin, we're going to Berlin! Again!
And what a memorable night it was! This is not only the story about the match against VfL Wolfsburg and about advancing to the final, this is also the story about remembering the 96, a contract extension and an head coach who needs to end the press conference because of bodily needs. But first things first. Borussia started with a line-up that was changed on three positions in comparison to the 3-0 away victory in Munich on Saturday. Lukasz Piszczek, Milos Jojic and Robert Lewandowski started which meant Hofmann, Aubameyang and Sahin found themselves on the pitch. Dieter Hecking, head coach of Wolfsburg needed to replace the injured goalkeeper Diego Benaglio and Ricardo Rodriguez who was banned for the match.
The emotional pre-game
However, the more surprising news of the pre-game was that Ilkay Gündogan extended his contract with Borussia Dortmund until 2016. This of course caused great responses and applause as it was seen as a good sign that Ilkay will stay with BVB longer. However, if you take a second look at the decision, it is less romantic than it might seem at a first glance. Gündogan only played for 250 minutes this season and won't be available this season because of nagging problems with his back – nobody knows when the German national will be able to get back to playing football. At the same time, rumors about Gündogan leaving the club and about several offers from big clubs from Spain and England came up again and again and again. Borussia Dortmund stated that they will not let Gündogan the way they did with Lewandowski – which means they would not have him end his contract and leave him for free. CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke claimed at the beginning of the season that Gündogan will either extend his contract or will transfer this summer. With all the personal worries about Gündogan, it is only logical that he will stay for one more year, hopefully will get back to playing football and then, both sides could decided what's best for the future. Maybe this contract extension will help Gündogan focus on his comeback. So, even though I hate to say that, the final decision about Gündogan's future has not been made yet, the decision has just been postponed, even though it is good to know that Gündogan will wear black and yellow next season as well.
In addition to announcing Gündogan's contract extension, the pre-game program had one more special but yet more sad feature. Borussia Dortmund remembered the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster which took place 25 years ago by honoring them with – and that is what announcer and BVB legend Norbert Dickel stated – "their song", You'll never walk alone. This was one of the most emotional "You'll never walk alone" I have ever witnessed in a stadium and one of those in which I really put all my heart in. We put up a video of those minutes to give you a feeling of what it was like to be in the Westfalenstadion at that point.
The game itself was different to the spectacles we have witnessed over the last week. This was also because of the fact that Wolfsburg showed a good effort and may also be explained with the fact that the victories over Munich and Real Madrid cost some strengths of the heroes in black and yellow. However, all in all, they were the more effective team which used their chances in a very good manner and therefore left that match as the deserved winner. Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the early lead after twelve minutes when he did the Robben and stormed along the penalty box, found a small gap in the defense of Wolfsburg and left keeper Grün no chance with a very precise shot to the right edge of the goal. What made me happy was that Mkhitaryan underlined his great performance in Munich with another important 1-0 and another good showing. Mkhitaryan got much critiques for not scoring the 3-0 against Real Madrid and is known as a player who is his biggest critic himself and I can imagine how important this goal was for him. I have always said that our number 10 is a great player who lacked luck over the last weeks and months and still needs some time to feel home in Dortmund – just like Ilkay Gündogan and Robert Lewandowski needed some time when they came to Dortmund. He even reminds me at Jakub Blaszcykowski who faced several critiques during the start of his run in black and yellow and has now advanced to being a fan favorite. I am pretty sure Mkhitaryan will go the same way and we will be so happy to have him in Dortmund one day. Maybe, this day will be the 17th of May 2014 in Berlin?
When Robert Lewandowski pointed out his qualities for one more time and scored the 2-0 after a nice assist by Marco Reus, it looked like an early decider. At least on paper. Wolfsburg had some pretty good chances throughout the game and Borussia was very happy multiple times. Malanda's header only hit the post in minute 42, Sokratis needed to clear a shot by Arnold in minute 51, Malanda missed a big opportunity 15 minutes before the final whistle after he appeared completely alone in front of the goal and even missed it. Luiz Gustavo also had one great opportunity during the last ten minutes when a second try by Wolfsburg only hit the post for the second time this evening. And there were even more opportunities that I did not enumerate at this point. To sum it up really quickly: Borussia was the more effective team and was lucky in decisive situations, but eventually were the right winner of this match.
And then there is one story I need to tell you as well since I did not see anything like that since I am a football fan. After both head coaches made their short statement as usual at the press conference after the match, BVB coach Jürgen Klopp apologized for having to go to the toilet and quickly set off after stating that "where I will go, I will not return for a longer time". This of course caused laughter among the journalists in the press room at Westfalenstadion and was taken up by the newspapers as well and it just is a nice and funny story which says a lot about Jürgen Klopp. The man who made Borussia a German contender for trophies and championships over the last years and who is sympathetic as it gets. We are happy to have him here in Dortmund and we would be happy to celebrate with him in Berlin as well. Most likely, we will face Bayern Munich in the cup final in a rematch of the 2011 final and in the biggest match German football has to offer at this point in time. However, the players in black and yellow already are heroes since they had made it to Berlin, to the last stage – and even without conceding any goals. Thank you, Borussia, for another great night which had very memorable moments. Make Berlin memorable in May as well!
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Sokratis, Hummels, Durm – Kehl – Mkhitaryan, Jojic, Reus, Großkreutz – Lewandowski
Subs: Kirch for Mkhitaryan (72nd), Aubameyang for Lewandowski (85th), Schieber for Reus (90th)
VfL Wolfsburg: Grün – Träsch, Naldo, Knoche, Schäfer – Luiz Gustavo, Junior Malanda – de Bruyne, Arnold, Perisic – Olic
Subs: Vierinha for Arnold (63rd), Caligiuri for Malanda (83rd)
Goals: 1-0 Mkhitaryan (12th), 2-0 Lewandowski (43rd)
Referee: Gräfe (Berlin)
Bookings: Kehl, Aubameyang – Luiz Gustavo
Attendance: 80.200 (sold-out Westfalenstadion)