When Vfl Wolfsburg arrive at the Westfalenstadion on Saturday on Matchday 32, there is little left to play for between the last year’s Bundesliga runner-up and the current second placed team. The reaction that Mats Hummels’ decision to go to Bayern will cast is the only thing that seems to be of interest.
Will the team captain receive boos and whistles when he enters the field?
BVB-boss Hans-Joachim Watzke has urged fans to be fair. The centre-back has earned the highest respects with his achievements for the club within eight years of service. But for many fans a move to Bayern is the ultimate way to back-stab them into the heart.
Since the ad-hoc announcement came out on Thursday, Hummels has not made a public statement to explain himself. The right words might have evoked a different reaction on Saturday, but since he remained silent he might get hate-filled reaction or simple ignorance. Surely, the Yellow Wall will show some sort of reaction.
As for the game itself, chasing records is the only thing left for Borussia Dortmund. With three games left to play BVB could end their season with 83 points, topping their personal best of the 2011/12 double-winning season of 81 points. Thy can also overtake Werder Bremen in the DFL’s official “eternal table” to clinch second place.
By the start of the campaign one would have pointed to this match as one of the deciders in the race for the Champions League spots between BVB and VfL on the Bundesliga’s final straight. Many stories were written after their vice-championship and their DFB Cup win against BVB who looked to be on the ropes last season. Were Wolfsburg to become the second force in Germany?
In late April of 2016 the answer is a definite ‘no’.
In the reiteration of last year’s cup final the Wolves merely pose as sparring partners for Borussia Dortmund who have to keep the tension up for the 2016 edition of the DFB Cup final in May against Bayern Munich.
10th placed Wolfsburg come to Dortmund as one harrowing example of a collapse of a team that was poised to attack at the top, but now finds itself with only mathematical chances to reach the Europa League spots after losing essential players such as Kevin de Bruyne and Ivan Perisic in summer.
Dieter Hecking — Bundesliga’s coach of the year 2014/15 has lost the plot without the Bundesliga’s player of the year 2014/15 Kevin de Bruyne and losing Ivan Perisic. The investments of nearly 90 € million over the course of one and a half years in Andre Schürrle, Julian Draxler, Max Kruse have shown little return thus far.
The Wolves are on a bad streak of form, winning only one of their last eight matches across all competitions. A historical victory that came against none other than Real Madrid. Meanwhile they couldn’t overcome Bundesliga teams like Hoffenheim, Darmstadt, Leverkusen or Mainz and lost against relegation threatened Bremen and Augsburg in their last two matches. It begs the questions whether Hecking’s squad can only get it up for the more prestigious games?
They showed a good fight against Dortmund in the reverse fixture this season. The guests had to rely on a stoppage time winner by Shinji Kagawa to make it 2-1 to clinch all three points. They were also 1-0 up against FC Bayern and looked on track to wrestle some points of the league leaders. That was until Robert Lewandowski famously wrote Bundesliga history, scoring five within seven minutes.
So will BVB face a team that is easily dissected, whose spirits easily broken, or will the Wolves want to prove that they are better than their league position suggests?
Borussia Dortmund have to make do without Neven Subotic and Joo-ho Park. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ilkay Gündogan both returned to team training on Thursday and have a chance to feature in the squad.
VfL Wolfsburg’s injury list is a bit longer. Julian Draxler is there most prominent absentee, Sebastian Jung and Vierinha are also out, which might led to a shortage of options for the right side as Bruno Henrique is doubtful with a concussion.