Dortmund and Leipzig meet twice in five days with plenty at stake

By John Bagratuni, dpa

Borussia Dortmund have been the main rivals of Bayern Munich in German football over the past years. Now ambitious RB Leipzig are challenging for that role.

In one way or another second place behind Bayern Munich in the German football pecking order is at stake when Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig meet in the Bundesliga next week Saturday and again five days later in the domestic Cup final.

Leipzig will clinch second place in the league with a victory while fifth-placed Dortmund can’t afford to drop points in their bid to qualify for the next Champions League.

The Cup final in Berlin then offers the chance for Leipzig and their departing coach Julian Nagelsmann to claim a first title of any kind.

Dortmund want silverware for the first time since the 2017 Cup win, which would also be a first trophy for helmsman Edin Terzic who replaced Lucien Favre in December for the rest of the season.

Dortmund have long been the main rivals of champions Bayern Munich and are the last team to win the Bundesliga before Munich’s latest title run started in 2013, lifting the trophy in 2011 and 2012.

Leipzig have emerged as a serious threat over the past years, finishing runners-up in their debut Bundesliga season 2017 and likely again this term, plus third in 2019 and 2020.

“We expect a record season in the Bundesliga and the first title in club history,” Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff said after confirmation that the 33-year-old Nagelsmann would leave for Munich in summer.

“We have goals and Julian Nagelsmann stands there right at the front. We want to close the two years extremely successfully.”

Nagelsmann has said that “the [Cup] title would mean a lot to crown the work of the past two years. We had many emotional moments. The title would be the icing on the cake.”

Leipzig reached their second Cup final with a 2-1 victory at Werder Bremen in the last minute of extra time from Emil Forsberg while Giovanni Reyna scored a brace in Dortmund’s 5-0 demolition of second-division Holstein Kiel for a 10th place in the decider.

“Dortmund are really good at the moment,” Nagelsmann said. “Football fans can expect an exciting Cup final which we want to decide in our favour.”

The two sides have never met in the Cup while Dortmund has a clear edge in their nine Bundesliga dates so far, winning five, losing two, drawing two and unbeaten in the last six.

“Of course we now want to get everything we can from the final. We are very happy to be going to Berlin,” Terzic said.

Captain Marco Reus said: “We’ve achieved our goal so far. If we want to play in the Champions League then we have to win every game. That’s the target we’ve set ourselves. Now we have Leipzig at the weekend. We’ll keep it up then.”

Dortmund will hope to have Erling Haaland back for the Leipzig dates after the super striker missed the Kiel game with a muscular problem. But Mateu Morey seemingly suffered a severe knee injury Saturday which overshadowed their big win.

“It was a perfect evening until the 75th minute. But the injury to Mateu Morey leaves a cloud over everything,” Terzic said.

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