Easter weekend is about resurrection from the dead. To any Borussia Dortmund fan, that could aptly describe their club and victory tomorrow night against Bayern Munich could catapult them to a second successive title and return them into a dynasty of German Football just seven years after facing financial ruin.
Therefore, it is somehow fitting that the game that could prove decisive in their winning a second successive title, bringing them back to the glory days of the nineties, is in the special midweek slate of games due to the Easter period.
It has been a date marked on every German football fan’s calendar for weeks, pretty much ever since the challenge of Schalke and Borussia Mӧnchengladbach fell away, as a title decider. The weekend’s games were almost a sideshow, an appetiser to the main course. Only a failure to win for either of the top two would have even registered on the radar of most people.
Now, with just three points separating the sides and just three games left after tomorrow’s clash, it promises to be everything that the much hyped Manchester derby at the end of April may now fail to be.
Make no mistake how appropriate the word dynasty is when relating to a Dortmund triumph in this game. That is because the six point margin it would create basically seals back-to-back titles for the first time since their great side of the mid nineties who went on to claim the Champions League the next year.
The result of such success would make the likes of creative force Mario Gӧtze, defensive rock Mats Hummels, and top scorer Robert Lewandowski think again about following the lead of Nuri Sahin and leaving for some of the ‘bigger’ clubs, overlooking their failure in the Champions League to go again with Dortmund.
If they could do that, then they would be a force next season as well, as any side 23 games unbeaten will be. Oh, they will also have the additional help of Gladbach’s outstanding talent and Dortmund native, Marco Reus, who is already signed, sealed and delivered for next season too!
It is the almost forgotten ingredient behind the unbeaten run that will be key once again on Wednesday night, the oft injured holding midfielder and captain, Sebastian Kehl.
Kehl may not be as headline grabbing as a goalscorer or a creative playmaker and he does not even utilise the sort of attention-grabbing, bone-crunching tackles that other holding midfielders use. In fact, it is a shock that his Ray Wilkins-like love of the sideways pass has not earned him the same nickname as Wilkins or at least the German equivalent ‘die Krabbe’.
As a result, even in live games, commentary teams hardly seem to mention him at all almost as if the game passes him by completely. The only time they mention him is to say that Dortmund have not lost a domestic game all season in which Kehl has played. That fact cannot be understated; it is proof that Kehl is the barometer that every other Dortmund player plays off, the steady hand on the tiller that allows the rest of the side to create havoc.
Borussia Dortmund are widely considered favourites for this game and therefore the title to boot. That is to take nothing away from the obvious individual quality that Bayern Munich have, no one scores goals in Germany like Mario Gomez, if Arjen Robben could stay fit, he would be put in the same bracket as Cristiano Ronaldo when it comes to working out who the second best player in the world is and Manuel Neuer proved with Schalke last year that he can be a matchwinner on his own in goal.
What makes Dortmund favourites are two things. Firstly, a Bayern side either without, or containing a not fully-fit Bastian Schweinsteiger is like a Dortmund side without a fully fit Kehl; a side lacking their true pulse and pivot and Schweinsteiger right now is nowhere near fully fit.
Secondly, there is the Champions League, or more precisely the semi-final Bayern face against Real Madrid. Usually, the prospect of two successive years without winning the Bundesliga would be considered as high treason in Bavaria. There is no question, however, that this time around, the prospect of playing in a home Champions League final at the Allianz Arena has been number one aim of everyone at the club from kit man to president Oli Hoeneβ.
What might just be the deciding factor in this game is that pretty much the only people around German football who have not had this game at the forefront of their minds for months, is one of the teams involved.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 2 Bayern Munich 0
Dortmund (4-2-3-1): Weidenfeller; Piszczek, Hummels, Subotic, Schmelzer; Kehl, Bender; Perisic, Kagawa, Blaszczykowski; Lewandowski.
Munich (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Boateng, Badstuber, Tymoshchuk, Lahm; Schweinsteiger, Alaba; Robben, Müller, Ribery; Gomez.
Tags: Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga, Sebastian Kehl