BERLIN: Borussia Dortmund host champions Bayern Munich for the German Super Cup on Sunday (Monday in Manila) with Mats Hummels and Mario Goetze set to be scrutinized following high-profile returns to each rival team.
The showdown between German league and cup champions Bayern and last season’s runners-up Dortmund, who finished second to the Bavarians in both competitions, has plenty of added spice a fortnight before the start of the Bundesliga season.
Germany center-back Hummels, Dortmund’s captain last season, can expect an uncomfortable return to Borussia’s sold-out Signal Iduna Park having signed a five-year deal in May to rejoin Bayern, the club he left in 2008.
“There will certainly be some people who won’t give me a warm welcome,” admits Hummels.
“It’s understandable, but I will always cherish my time there, even if I am booed there for the next 15 times in a row.”
Hummels expects “very loud background noise” and failed to help matters by admitting he moved to Bayern to join “one of the three best teams in the world” — something Dortmund can not claim to be.
But Bayern striker Thomas Mueller says Dortmund fans should not whistle Hummels, who helped the team to the 2011 and 2012 league titles, making 225 league appearances.
“Mats doesn’t give the impression that he’s scared and whether he is welcomed or jeered won’t influence us,” said Mueller.
“Any boos would be ridiculous, as far as I am concerned. Mats was a leading figure in a lot of success for Dortmund, they could show a bit of gratitude.”
Likewise, Goetze will have a point to prove in his first competitive game back in the black and yellow Dortmund shirt after three frustrating seasons at Bayern, spent mainly on the bench or injured.
Battle for prestige
“When the interest from Borussia Dortmund came, I quickly decided to return,” said Germany’s World Cup-winner, a product of the Dortmund academy.
“Now begins a new chapter for me. I really want to play my best football again and to reply to each and every critic with my performances.”
Dortmund have won the Super Cup five times, Bayern on four occasions, and Mueller says the Bavarians are eager to get their hands on the trophy after defeats on their last three attempts.
Borussia will return to the Champions League this season after a year’s absence and have splashed out a reported 109.8 million euros ($122.6m) on eight new signings.
Having sold Hummels to Bayern, Ilkay Gundogan to Manchester City and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Manchester United, Dortmund spent big.
They have recruited Goetze, Germany winger Andre Schuerrle, Barcelona defender Marc Bartra, Portugal defender Raphael Guerreiro and exciting teenage French winger Ousmane Dembele amongst others.
Dortmund lost their last pre-season friendly 1-0 to Athletico Bilbao in Switzerland on Tuesday.
The defeat prompted coach Thomas Tuchel to ask fans “not to expect too much from Sunday”, but the hosts will want to win their third German Super Cup title in four years.
Bayern will not be at full strength, missing injured stars Jerome Boateng, new-signing Renato Sanches and Arjen Robben as Carlo Ancelotti bids for his first trophy since succeeding Pep Guardiola as head coach.
“This is a title we haven’t won for three years and it’s always special against Borussia Dortmund, for us and the fans,” said Mueller.
“This is about prestige.”