Borussia Dortmund will host Holstein Kiel in the DFB-Pokal tomorrow, with both clubs looking to punch their ticket to the Olympiastadion in Berlin, where they will face the winner of Werder Bremen and RB Leipzig. This is exactly where you want to be come the business end of the season, isn’t it? Hosting a cup semifinal against an upstart lower league opponent on a full week’s rest, it just doesn’t get much better than this.
The road to this moment has been full of twists and turns, but that really doesn’t matter now as it’s all about getting it done anyway possible. Dortmund handily defeated Duisburg 5-0 in the first round, and then promptly followed that up with a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Braunschweig just before the winter break. However, Paderborn gave BVB an extra time scare in the third round before Erling Haaland was able rescue the side. Dortmund again managed to scrape by in the quarterfinal, this time against Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Rose derby, which set up this semifinal date.
Die Schwarzgelben will be hoping to make their tenth DFB-Pokal final, having won the trophy on four occasions previously. While Dortmund suffered elimination in the Champions League at the hands of Manchester City, they have actually been in fine form recently, winning their last four Bundesliga matches. Back-to-back clean sheets against Union Berlin and Wolfsburg has coincided with Edin Terzic finding a new fullback in Polish defender Lukasz Piszczek. The “new boy” is giving more stability to the backline than either Mateu Morey or Thomas Meunier seemingly provide, which may prove crucial if BVB wish to attain their season ending goals. Piszczek seems to always be in the right spot, links well others, defends well in the air, and makes timely runs going forward. It could be just a simple case of the “hot hand” but perhaps this Piszczek character might have a good career ahead of him. I see Terzic sticking with this “kid” at the weekend as the squad seems to pick itself currently.
Alongside the aforementioned Piszczek, I expect Raphael Guerreiro, Mats Hummels, and Manuel Akanji to finish out the back four with Marwin Hitz taking his position between the posts. Mahmoud Dahoud is currently serving a one match ban for his stoppage time red card against Gladbach, so Thomas Delaney looks favorite to come in and play the holding role in midfield alongside Jude Bellingham (his red card from Wolfsburg will be served against Leipzig). The attack will be spearheaded by star striker Erling Haaland who will be supported by an attacking midfield trio of Giovanni Reyna, Jadon Sancho, and club captain Marco Reus. Terzic will know not to take Kiel lightly as they are well rested and have proven to be a difficult opponent all season.
Holsten Kiel currently sit fourth in the 2. Bundesliga but look likely to get promoted, or at least be in the promotion playoff match as they are a dangerous team on their day. Kiel put 7 goals past FC Rielasingen-Arlen before defeating the mighty Bayern Munich on penalties in the second round. It once again took penalties for Kiel to get past Darmstadt in the third round before they dispatched Rot-Weiss Essen by a 3-0 scoreline in the quarterfinal. Recently, Kiel have had several league games pushed due to covid-19 protocols, but they did just play a match this past Tuesday which for them will hopefully shake off a bit of rust. With three games in hand behind their promotion rivals, the DFB-Pokal may serve as more of a distraction than an opportunity.
With Dortmund having Sancho fit again, coupled with a re-born Reyna flanking the Reus and Haaland attack, I see no reason why BVB will not cruise past Kiel. While we should understand that Kiel have been a tricky opponent for many others, they are probably a bit rusty and focused on promotion than a cup tie at this point. Dortmund look to have also strengthened the back four with the “new Polish kid” which will make it difficult for Kiel to negotiate the Dortmund defense. BVB will win comfortably 4-0, and advance to the final.
Should Terzic stick with Piszczek at the back?