Borussia Dortmund take on Wolfsburg in the DFB-Pokal final this weekend, hoping to give head coach Jurgen Klopp a triumphant send-off in his last game in charge.
Saturday’s clash at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin marks the end of Klopp’s seven-year tenure, which has seen Dortmund pick up two Bundesliga titles and one Pokal crown.
Dortmund also reached the 2013 UEFA Champions League final, where they were undone by Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich at Wembley.
Klopp bid an emotional farewell to Dortmund fans after his final home game last weekend – a 3-2 win over Werder Bremen that sealed UEFA Europa League qualification.
It capped a remarkable turnaround for the club, who were second from bottom at Christmas, before a resurgence in the second half of the campaign saw them finish seventh.
And victory in Saturday’s final would ensure a tumultuous season ends on a high note, before Klopp’s replacement Thomas Tuchel takes over ahead of 2015-16.
Hoping to spoil Klopp’s party, however, will be Wolfsburg, who finished as runners-up to Bayern in the league.
Wolfsburg’s players will wear commemorative shirts on Saturday in honour of midfielder Junior Malanda, who was tragically killed in a car accident in January.
Dieter Hecking’s side played an entertaining brand of football throughout the campaign, scoring 72 league goals – including 16 for Bas Dost and 10 from Kevin De Bruyne.
Wolfsburg also had the better of their two league encounters with Dortmund – earning a 2-2 draw at Signal Iduna Park before a 2-1 home success in the penultimate game of the season.
But despite their higher league placing, sporting director Klaus Allofs believes the pressure is firmly on Wolfsburg’s opponents.
“We are in the nice situation that we have nothing,” he told reporters. “We are not under pressure.
“I believe that the pressure is higher on Dortmund. But it is also quite clear that you want to win the title if you come to the final.
“Participation is beautiful, but to be able to then keep the trophy and exhibit for all time in the museum would be great.
“This is no Klopp final, we do not play against Klopp and Dieter Hecking does not play against Klopp. This is a game between the teams of Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund.”
Wolfsburg have made only one previous appearance in the Pokal final, losing 3-0 to Borussia Monchengladbach in 1995.
Dortmund, meanwhile, were runners-up to Bayern last year and in 2012 defeated the same opponents 5-2 to clinch the first double in the club’s history.
That achievement will forever see Klopp heralded as a legend at Dortmund, and the charismatic coach will hope for a fitting finale to his tenure on Saturday.
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