After seven years and 22 tussles with FC Bayern Munchen as Borussia Dortmund gaffer, Jurgen Klopp heads into his side’s DFB-Pokal semi-final clash at the Allianz Arena knowing he might not hit this part of Bavaria again for a while.
The two-time Bundesliga-winning manager will be desperate for a second German Cup to boost a CV that’s likely to be perused by the continent’s biggest football cheeses at the end of the season, but we think the best Klopp can hope for is glorious failure.
Here are our top bets:
Arjen Robben to score the first goal @ 13/4
The lightning Oranje forward is in line for a start after missing the hosts’ last seven games through injury, which spells bad news for Klopp on his last visit to Bavaria in charge of Die Schwarzgelben.
Robben has found the back of the onion bag 19 times in 29 appearances for FC Bayern this term, and gaffer Pep Guardiola dropped a canny hint regarding his team selection for this clash when revealing the 30-year-old’s return to fitness:
“That’s just what we need. He’s trained and everybody’s seen what good shape he’s in. If he’s fit, then he will play. He doesn’t need much time to get back into shape – he’s got a very special condition.”
The former Chelsea and Real Madrid man has five openers to his name already this season and should be raring to go from the off, having sat out the whole of April so far.
Robben has notched in three of his past four appearances against BvB, including a Champions League final winner two seasons ago and in his last appearance against Klopp’s charges six months ago
FC Bayern to win 2-1 @ 7/1
The champions are short-priced favourites at 8/15, but the last couple of clashes between these Bundesliga behemoths have seen them separated by a single goal each time, and neither team has bagged more than two in four Klassikers over the past 12 months.
Dortmund’s first-choice goalie Roman Weidenfeller will miss this semi-final with a pelvic injury, meaning Australian stopper Mitchell Langerak comes in between the sticks, but the 26-year-old has been on the winning side in each of his three games against FCB, so his presence shouldn’t be seen as a negative.
Klopp’s men are on a decent run, winning their past two games and eight of 14 all-competition fixtures since the first week in February, with FC Bayern sneaking a 1-0 win at the Westfalenstadion at the start of this month.
Bearing that in mind, expect this summer’s most sought-after coach to go down fighting.
Incidentally, Robben to score first in a 2-1 win for the hosts is available at 20/1 with bwin.