The absence of Mario Gotze is a loss to the Champions League final - but Borussia Dortmund can cope without him
The BVB midfielder who is moving to Bayern this summer will have no part to play at Wembley
In Dortmund the talk is of fairytales. For the last three years, they have constantly understated their successes, insisting ever more fiercely that they remain underdogs when compared to FC Bayern.
They said it in 2011, the first year that they won the title under Jürgen Klopp. They said it last season, as they snatched both domestic titles away from Bayern with consummate ease. They are saying it now, as they prepare to face their rivals at Wembley on Saturday.
"This team won the league far too early in 2011, it won the double far too early last year, and now we've reached the Champions League Final far too early as well" said Klopp this week.
It was not a statement of fear, but one of pride and admiration for a team which he and his colleagues have taken from the edge of the abyss to unprecedented glory in half a decade. Klopp, Michael Zorc and Hans Joachim Watzke have created something which even the odd Bayern fan can admire – a true footballing fairytale.
One fairytale, though, will now not be played out as planned on Saturday. Mario Götze, the poster boy for Klopp's revolution, will not play in the Final, and will never play for BVB again. The injury he sustained in the second leg against Real Madrid has proved too much, and the next time he plays a full competitive match, it will be in the colours of FC Bayern.
It is a sad end to a wonderful partnership. In the last three years, Götze has epitomised everything that is wonderful about BVB. Homegrown, astonishingly gifted, modest and filled with unimaginable potential. While few should begrudge him the decision to play under Pep Guardiola next year, most will regret his absence come Saturday evening.
For those of a romantic disposition, there was still some hope that his last act for BVB would be to score the winner against his future employers. Now that is gone, along with the prospect of seeing Germany's two best teams go at each other at full strength.
In practical terms, the blow is painful but not as disastrous as it may first appear for Dortmund. While Götze's wizardry has frequently given them another dimension over the last three years, and his place in the team has been a given whenever he is fit, they are not wont to collapse without him. He was injured for most of the side's remarkable second half of the season last year, including the DFB Pokal Final in which they beat Bayern 5-2.
Klopp's system, moreover, is no more built around Götze than it is around any other player. Whether the coach opts to shift Marco Reus to the centre and play Kevin Großkreutz on the left, or to promote Sebastian Kehl or Ilkay Gündoğan to attacking midfield is yet to be seen, but the BVB midfield is flexible enough not to capitulate in the absence of their boy wonder. It would arguably be a much greater blow to have lost Robert Lewandowski at this late stage.
And yet, at crucial moments, they may still miss his creativity. Like Lionel Messi, with whom he is perpetually compared, Götze does have the ability to change a game with one piece of brilliance. The practical effect of losing him may be limited, but the psychological blow is considerable.
For the neutral meanwhile, there is the tragedy of not seeing the player who has become the focal point in this rivalry of late. A player whose excellence has simultaneously driven and represented Dortmund's fairytale, and a player who would have made this ever so finely balanced tie all the more entertaining.
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