Bayern, Dortmund seek CL glory to kick off Germany’s big summer

Bayern, Dortmund seek CL glory to kick off Germany’s big summer

BERLIN, Germany (AP):

It’s shaping up to be quite a few weeks for German football.

The country is preparing to stage the European Championship over June and July, with Germany’s national team taking a nicely timed upturn in form.

Before that, Germany might yet be celebrating having European champions once again, with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund making up half of the line-up for the Champions League semi-finals beginning this week.

The last time Bayern and Dortmund both reached the Champions League semi-finals was in 2013 and they went on to meet in the title match at Wembley Stadium, with Bayern winning 2-1. As fate would have it, Wembley will be hosting the final this year, too.

Setting up a repeat of that 2013 final would mean upsetting the odds.

Bayern are up against another European heavyweight in Real Madrid, the record 14-time champions and king of the competition.

Dortmund face Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), whose star striker Kylian Mbappe is looking to lead them to their first-ever Champions League title in his last season there before a likely move to Madrid.

BAYERN vs MADRID

Madrid should arrive well rested after the Spanish league moved their game at Real Sociedad to Friday. Madrid won 1-0.

With Madrid set to win Spain’s domestic title, coach Carlo Ancelotti kept Jude Bellingham, Vinicius Junior, Eduardo Camavinga, Toni Kroos, Federico Valverde, Antonio Rudiger and goalkeeper Andriy Lunin on the bench at the start of the league game in San Sebastian. Forward Rodrygo did not travel with the team because of the flu.

All started against Manchester City in the second leg of the quarter-finals and are expected to be back in the starting line-up against Bayern.

Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel is leaving at the end of the season, and the Champions League – which he won with Chelsea in 2021 – offers him the chance to go out on a high.

Two months on from Bayern’s announcement that Tuchel would depart, he seems more popular than ever among sections of the Bayern support. Part of that is down to the calm, controlled way Bayern knocked out Arsenal in the second leg of their quarter-final. Partly it’s a reaction to Bayern’s failure to hire top coaching targets like Bayer Leverkusen’s Xabi Alonso or Germany’s Julian Nagelsmann.

The injuries that have plagued Bayern this season are easing off, too.

DORTMUND VS PSG

PSG won another French league title yesterday – after second-place Monaco lost at Lyon – but the Champions League is the trophy the Qatar-backed PSG are desperate to finally get their hands on.

There would be no better way for Mbappe to sign off at the end of the season than by leading PSG to victory in European club football’s elite competition.

PSG are already planning for life without their superstar striker, who is set to walk away as a free agent, with players like Randal Kolo Muani, Ousmane Dembele and Goncalo Ramos expected to help fill the void in his absence.

Mbappe could still have a big say in the Champions League and he scored two goals in PSG’s 4-1 comeback win against Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

It’s been a strange season for Dortmund and that was underlined by Saturday’s 4-1 loss against top-four rivals RB Leipzig.

Dortmund have certainly saved their best performances for the Champions League, none better than the comeback win over Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals.

Striker Sebastien Haller scored in the first leg against Atletico but injured his ankle in Dortmund’s next game and hasn’t played since. Forward Donyell Malen has been struggling with pain, too.

Much could depend on which version of Jadon Sancho turns up to face PSG.

Sancho, who scored against Leipzig, has shown glimpses of his obvious talent since returning to Dortmund in January on loan from Manchester United. The issue is whether the former England forward can consistently play at his best.

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