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Friday, August 23, 2019

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Guardiola hopes German Cup is his last parting gift
Reuters
Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola will be hoping his players deliver on their promise of a parting gift when they take on Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup final Saturday as he looks to leave Germany on a high note. The Spaniard, who takes over Manchester City next season, could win his second domestic double in three seasons after Bayern eased to a record fourth consecutive Bundesliga title last week.
However, a failure to win the Champions League, which had been his mandate from the very start, has certainly taken the sheen off Guardiola’s three-year stint at Bayern despite an utter dominance over his home rivals during that spell.
Atletico Madrid proved too strong for Bayern in the semifinals of this season’s tournament, making it three years in a row that Guardiola’s side had fallen to Spanish opposition at the same stage.
Many Bayern fans never really warmed to the Spaniard as they had done to his predecessor Jupp Heynckes, who won the treble in 2013, or even Louis van Gaal in his first season in 2009-10.
That frostiness was evident during title celebrations last week when Guardiola stood with the team on the town hall balcony but opted not to address the 15,000 fans gathered below at Munich’s Marienplatz.
However, bidding farewell to his players and the fans with a final at Berlin’s Olympic stadium should help soothe the pain of yet another European disappointment.
“It is clear that this is about a title but it is also clear that it is our last game under him,” defender David Alaba said.
“We want to throw everything into the game one more time to give him a parting gift,” he added.
Dortmund, losing finalists in the last two editions, will have their own man in the spotlight, with Germany defender Mats Hummels playing his last game for the Ruhr valley club after eight-and-a-half years before continuing his career at Bayern.
He is the third big-name Bayern signing from Dortmund since 2013 after Mario Goetze and Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski also completed the switch between the bitter rivals.
“No doubt he will step on the gas 100 percent for Dortmund,” Lewandowski had to say of his former and future teammate. “He is a complete professional.”
Hummels, who had failed to break into the Bayern team before joining Dortmund in 2008 and has now agreed to a five-year deal, had to endure some jeers and boos over the past few weeks.
Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, however, sounded confident the 27-year-old World Cup winner could deal with the pressure.
“This is his fifth final with Dortmund and on top of that there is the 2014 World Cup final,” Watzke said.
“If you can deal with the pressure of a Rio de Janeiro final against Argentina then you can deal with it in a Cup final ... Mats is not 22 anymore so I am not concerned at all,” he added.
 
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