German Cup: ″Cracker″ of a final between Dortmund and Wolfsburg | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 29.05.2015
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German Cup: "Cracker" of a final between Dortmund and Wolfsburg

The 2015 German Cup final will feature two exciting attacking sides, Wolfsburg and Dortmund. And, as if the Cup itself weren't prize enough, they both have extra emotional motivation.

There's no Bayern this year, but few people are complaining about the 2015 German Cup match-up of Dortmund versus Wolfsburg. In fact, if you believe Wolfsburg commercial manager, Klaus Allofs, the fixture is a true highlight.

"If I were working for a tabloid, my headline would be 'Cracker of a Final,'" Allofs said in an exclusive interview with Deutsche Welle. "Bayern fans should stop listening now, but I think it's good for the finale that Bayern aren't in it this year. It's good for the competition."

Allofs is hardly neutral, of course, but he's right in a number of respects. Cup finals are usually cagey affairs, with teams playing conservatively early, but Wolfsburg scored 72 goals this season - only eight short of Bayern. Meanwhile Dortmund were anything but a tight ship, conceding a mediocre 42.

So does that make Bundesliga runners-up Wolfsburg the heavy favorites over seventh-placed Dortmund? Not necessarily, says Allofs, who thinks that Cup matches are different from regular football games.

"The special thing is that you can divide the fans into 50 percent neutrals, and 25 percent supporters of each of the two finalists, and that produces a special atmosphere," Allofs told DW. "The key is to win over the 50 percent. They purchased their tickets without knowing who was going to be in the final. "

In other words, the Cup final is about winning the emotional battle. And there will be no shortage of emotion in Berlin on Saturday.

Jürgen Klopp

Klopp says that the final is not about him, but Dortmund may beg to differ on that

Klopp's grand finale

On the Dortmund side, the men in yellow-and-black want to send coach Jürgen Klopp out with a win and create one last highlight before the squad that won the Bundesliga in 2011 and the domestic double in 2012 is blown apart.

Klopp is leaving the club after seven years in which he became a Dortmund legend. When announcing that he would step down earlier this year, the salt-of-the-earth coach said that his goal was to celebrate one more bit of silverware with fans on Dortmund's Borsigplatz square.

Ahead of the match, Klopp has been trying to downplay his place in the proceedings, saying that it was up to his players to fill the role of hero. And he engaged in some relaxed joking, telling Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking he would announce who would start in goal, only if Hecking revealed whether defender Naldo would play.

Dortmund look set to go with their number two keeper Mitchell Langerak over the experienced veteran Roman Weidenfeller between the sticks. Otherwise, with Dortmund's lack of bench strength, their starting eleven more or less picks itself. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will almost certainly get the nod as the lone man up front with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Shinji Kagawa and Marco Reus in offensive midfield.

The key could be Kagawa. After a wretched season, the Japanese dribbler has shown signs of recovering form of late. If he plays well, it would give the Wolves something new to think about and help put the brakes on their attack.

Kevin de Bruyne

Kevin de Bruyne has been a picture of grim focus since the death of compatriot Junior Malanda

Coming together after tragedy

In the past, Wolfsburg have been plagued by inconsistency and failed to live up to their potential. Not this season. Second at the winter break, the Wolves actually got better during 2015 and narrowed the gap to Bundesliga winner Bayern Munich.

The Wolves' new sense of purpose may be down in part to pulling together after the sad death of midfielder Junior Malanda in January. The 20-year-old was killed in a car crash on his way to the airport to fly to Wolfsburg's winter training camp.

Malanda's untimely end was a blow for the entire team, drawing tears from the normally tough-as-nails Hecking. Since then, fellow Belgian Kevin de Bruyne - whose Twitter picture features himself with Malanda - has looked like a man on a mission. The playmaker set a new Bundesliga assist record and was many people's choice for player of the year.

The Wolves' attack also boasts Bas Dost, the hulking Dutchman, who knocked in 16 goals in the Bundesliga, and Daniel Caligiuri, who finished the season in fine form with five assists and two goals in his final eight matches. Expect the Wolves to try to get past Dortmund high pressing with long balls in hopes of cracking their defense open early.

If the Wolves do succeed in winning the German Cup, it will be the first time they've ever hoisted this particularly trophy. And don't be surprised to see some tributes to Malanda in Berlin's Olympic Stadium as well.

Klaus Allofs was interviewed by Kamilla Jarzina for DW's Kick Off program.

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