Bayern hosts Dortmund in German Cup, sans Ribery
When Borussia Dortmund swept both domestic titles last season, it humiliated Bayern Munich 5-2 in the German Cup final.
A similar outcome in Wednesday's quarterfinals of this year's tournament would be a sensation.
Bayern has been steamrolling through the Bundesliga season to sit a massive 17 points ahead of Dortmund in the standings. But Dortmund can still spoil Bayern's season if it can beat the Bavarians in Munich.
"Bayern is having a perfect season,'' Dortmund's coach Juergen Klopp said. "But if we are at 100 percent, anything is possible. We know that we are one of the few teams on the planet that can beat Bayern.''
The problem is Dortmund has not always been at 100 percent this season. And sometimes the team has lacked luck, like when it was held to a 1-1 draw by Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
Bayern is coming off a 6-1 thrashing of Werder Bremen in which coach Jupp Heynckes used six players from the bench.
"Bayern hasn't had any reason to worry in the last few weeks, and they can rotate players without losing quality,'' Klopp said.
Still, Klopp has some reason to be optimistic. The two sides drew 1-1 in the league in December, while the previous five showdowns before that were all Dortmund wins.
"We've noticed that Bayern's respect for us has grown,'' Klopp said.
In Tuesday's matches, Mainz hosts Freiburg and Wolfsburg travels to third-division club Kickers Offenbach. On Wednesday, Stuttgart plays second-division team Bochum, followed by the featured match in Munich.
Klopp can use Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who is suspended in the Bundesliga but available for the cup.
Persistent rumors in the German media have linked Lewandowski with a move to Bayern next season. Lewandowski's agent has hinted to the Polish media that the striker will leave Dortmund, although he didn't specify a destination. If Lewandowski doesn't extend his contract with Dortmund, the club is likely to let him go after this season as it is the last chance to cash in on one of its top players.
Bayern will be without suspended winger Franck Ribery, but Heynckes' team has been in such an overwhelming form that even that may not be much of a factor despite the Frenchman's importance for the side.
"We consider ourselves very strong and we know what Dortmund is capable of and how they hurt us in the past,'' midfielder Thomas Mueller said. "We want to win titles and so we have to win Wednesday. There are no guarantees but this is not such a bad timing for the match.''
Midfielder Toni Kroos said there was no doubt in his mind which was the top club in Germany, even if Bayern has failed to win a title in the past two seasons.
"We were unable to prove it on the field, unfortunately, and Dortmund deserved to be champion,'' he said.
After watching his team tear apart Bremen 6-1, Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: "We are well prepared'' for Dortmund and that "Berlin is our target,'' referring to the venue for the cup final.=