The 2013 Super Cup will be upon us come Saturday evening at 8.30pm, when FC Bayern Munich take on Borussia Dortmund for the first real silverware of the new season. Considering their impressive from and squad versatility, Bayern remain the favourites. And, although towards the end of last season, Bayern ended their spell of impotence against Dortmund, Juergen Klopp’s side will be Guardiola’s toughest test so far.
– Borussia Dortmund were the better side in the opening half an hour of the Champions League final last year, and the reason was their pressing. They stifled Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Marintez with pincer-like pressure, often forcing a turnover in possession. It will be interesting to see whether Dortmund apply the same strategy on the one defensive midfielder we expect Guardiola to play. Stopping him (Kroos, Schweinsteiger or Thiago) will be key to preventing Bayern from flowing.
– As much as hustling the deep-lying playmaker is important, it is only one part of the jigsaw that Dortmund must solve to beat Bayern. Too much attention in that area of the pitch will afford the advancing bank of four midfielders more space. Klopp’s men will have to be adaptable and react swiftly.
– Sven Bender and Ilkay Guendogan may mirror Bayern’s central midfield in the hope of cancelling it out. Bender may drop deeper, leaving Guendogan to play a similar role to Thiago.
– As much as Dortmund will have prepared for it, facing a Bayern side not held down by positions is going to require supreme concentration. Dortmund are tactically astute and combining that with early aggression will slow Bayern’s fluidity. If they are given enough time and space from the start, their red shirts will be swarming everywhere, leaving Hummels and Co. in trouble.
– Dortmund lost the Champions League final for two reasons; they weren’t clinical enough and their aggressive pressing game caught up with them. If they push hard early on, as is expected, Klopp will know they have to get a goal, maybe even two, to show for their efforts.
– Will Mario Götze play? That is the question on everyone’s lips. All signs point towards Bayern not risking him. Bayern are more than capable of dealing with Dortmund without him, as preseason has proved. They would also be keen to spare him the uncomfortable atmosphere of a return to the SignalIdunaPark, at least for now anyway.
– The big news out of the Bayern camp is that neither Manuel Neuer (muscle problems) nor Franck Ribery (bruising) will be involved. Both are big losses to Bayern, despite their squad depth. Tom Starke proved his quality last season, but will have to raise his game that little bit more to keep out a Dortmund side surely spurred on by this news. Ribery will most likely be replaced by Xherdan Shaqiri, and although without perhaps last year’s best Bundesliga player, Bayern will feel in Shaqiri they have yet another excellent winger. Certainly alters things for both sides.
– Javi Martinez could return and if so, it is widely expected he will slot into the centre of defence. Dante, despite a rusty performance against Barcelona, will most likely partner him. Jerome Boateng has played well in preseason but remains a back-up option.
– If those two are selected in the centre of defence, Martinez will take on the role of ball-playing centre back, leaving Dante to man-mark Robert Lewandowski.
– Losing Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to injury takes some of the edge off the clash. A new season with a new team was something both sides wanted to boast of; now it seems only Bayern will be able to do that on Saturday.
– Dortmund’s new defensive recruit, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, will hope to be involved though. The solid pairing of Neven Subotic and Mats Hummels is unlikely to be altered but with Lukasz Piszczek injured, Sokratis could fill in at right back. He will face competition from Dortmund’s utility man Kevin Grosskreutz though.