The best part about last week’s victory over Mainz, which secured a spot in the Champions League for Borussia Dortmund, is that we now get a stress-free final matchday with very little at stake. Instead of fretting over how the game’s outcome could have dire implications for the future of the club, we can enjoy 90 minutes of football between two good teams. But most importantly to me, we can witness a proper send off for Lukasz Piszczek, who assuming he actually plays, will make his final appearance in a BVB shirt.
Even if there won’t be any lasting consequences from tomorrow’s game, it will still be nice to end the season on a positive note. With a victory, Dortmund would end the season on a seven-game winning streak, and would go out with as positive vibes as possible heading into the summer... and who among us couldn’t use more positive vibes?
I’ll tell you who definitely could: Bayer Leverkusen. Going into the final match day, Die Werkself have even less to play for. Win, lose, or draw, Leverkusen will finish in sixth place. Enough to qualify for the Europa League, but well short of the Champions League, where the club’s true ambitions lie. It has been another “one step forward, two steps back” season for Bayer Leverkusen. Although Peter Bosz led the team through a ferocious start, matching Bayern stride-for-stride and finishing the first half only two points off of first place, things really fell off once the calendar hit 2021.
Eventually, Leverkusen’s success was revealed to be a house of cards, bolstered by unsustainable finishing. Die Werkself lost against Bayern on December 19th. It was their first defeat of the season, and much like when Bosz was the manager of BVB in 2017, once the losing started, it never really stopped. Leverkusen only won three of their next 14 games (including, unfortunately, the reverse fixture against Dortmund). An injury to Julian Baumgartlinger just aggravated the tendency of Bosz’s system to be defensively vulnerable, with Charles Aranguiz usually being the sole holding midfielder to shield the back line.
After a string of losses to clubs they should have easily beaten, Leverkusen sacked Peter Bosz and replaced him with former Stuttgart manager Hannes Wolf, another young up-and-coming attack-minded manager. Leverkusen’s results have improved slightly, with three losses, three draws, and a defeat in their seven games since, but more injuries to various players including Lucas Alario and Leon Bailey have continued to take their toll. No matter what Leverkusen’s result is tomorrow, they will finish in a disappointing sixth place.
To be perfectly honest, I’ll be happy with any lineup tomorrow, as long as Lukasz Piszczek gets the start at right back. Not only does he deserve a proper send off, but even as he prepares to return to Poland for his retirement, he’s still our best right back.
That’s the only lineup decision I consider to be important. Here are the rest of my predictions:
Can we discuss for a moment what a kick-ass lineup this is? If you take into account current form, this squad could easily run with any other in Europe. It’s such a shame that injuries and spots of poor form prevented this squad from playing to its full potential until the very end of the season. If Jadon Sancho hadn’t been in such poor form during the first half, if Erling Haaland hadn’t suffered a lengthy injury in the middle of the season, and if Thorgan Hazard hadn’t missed most of the year, BVB would probably be in second place, and could even be challenging for the title. Obviously it’s easy to say this in hindsight, and there are other factors to consider, like how Lukasz Piszczek couldn’t keep up his current form over a full, grueling season. Still, you just have to look at Dortmund’s form over the past six games to see what this team is capable of.
Dortmund win 1-0, thanks to a goal from Lukasz Piszczek that makes all of us cry.