Dortmund rues missing golden opportunity to win CL
LONDON (AP) — Borussia Dortmund’s pain in losing the Champions League final 2-1 to bitter rival Bayern Munich is exacerbated by the knowledge it may never have a better chance to win the trophy again.
Arjen Robben’s 89th-minute winner limited Dortmund’s opportunities to respond, but there is a sense Dortmund’s opportunities of playing another final are limited, too, as the team faces the prospect of losing its best players.
Mario Goetze has already decided to join Bayern, which is paying the rising star’s 37 million euro buy-out clause, and Robert Lewandowski appears to be on the verge of joining him.
“We know Mario Goetze will be joining us and I don’t think Lewandowski will be hanging about too much either,” Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said at Saturday’s post-match press conference.
Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke reacted angrily on Sunday.
“Jupp Heynckes should keep out of it and just concentrate on the team line-up for next Saturday,” said Watzke, referring to Bayern’s German Cup final date with Stuttgart.
Lewandowski is remaining tight-lipped about his future plans, but media reports that his agents Cezary Kucharski and Maik Barthel were on Bayern’s guest list for the club’s victory banquet in London did little to quell the speculation.
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion he has played his last game for Dortmund.
The 24-year-old striker said he was only thinking of resting for a few days and then joining Polish teammates for a World Cup qualifier against Moldova on June 7.
“I’ll be back in Dortmund a little after that,” Lewandowski said. “I’ll go to the national team and then we’ll see what happens.”
Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp, who previously said he expected Lewandowski to stay, appeared willing to accept his side will have a new look next season.
“We’ve to go on holidays and buy some players. We need players because other clubs want our players,” Klopp said.
Reports suggest that Lewandowski’s advisors have told Dortmund their client only wants to play for Bayern next season, forcing the club into the uncomfortable position of selling to its greatest rival or allow him to leave for free next year.
Watzke, who had initially set a deadline of May 15 for offers for Lewandowski, said Bayern still had not formally registered its interest in the Polish forward.
“I don’t know how close Jupp Heynckes is to Bayern’s management. But if Bayern really wants Lewandowski, it would be good if we found out about it, too,” Watzke said on Sunday.
If Dortmund decides to hold Lewandowski to his contract, it would forgo an estimated transfer fee of around 25 million euros. But Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke has indicated the club is prepared to do that.
“If Robert stays, the chances of qualifying for the Champions League again next season are better. We earned significant amounts in the competition this season,” he said before the final.
Lewandowski has scored 54 goals in 98 Bundesliga games, while also helping set up 20 more. He managed 10 goals in the Champions League, two less than competition top-scorer Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid.
Rather than selling to Bayern, a direct rival, Dortmund would be more likely to contemplate selling to a foreign club, opening the possibility for other interested teams like Chelsea, Manchester City or Real Madrid to make their move.
Lewandowski will have the final say, however, and if he decides he wants Bayern, it will happen this year or next.
Success breeds success. Both Goetze and Lewandowski are drawn to Bayern because they feel it gives them the best chance of personal glory. And in buying Dortmund’s best players, Bayern also makes the side weaker. It will be harder for Dortmund to compete at the same level next year.
Goetze had been ruled out of the final with a hamstring injury, and Dortmund lacked the attacking midfielder’s cutting edge as it failed to make the most of its dominance in the first half.
Fans are left with the uneasy feeling 20-year-old’s absence may have been the decisive factor in favor of his future club.
“It would be great to show the players who may be going that our team can achieve great things, too,” Dortmund defender Mats Hummels said before what was only Dortmund’s second Champions League final.
Defeat to Bayern will only underline the conviction that it can’t achieve great things.
In the same press conference, Klopp said he was sure his players would manage to reach another final sometime, though he might not be there when it happens.
But Dortmund fans have suffered enough pain for one day.