All of Germany are looking to Dortmund against Bayern Munich – including world champion Jürgen Koehler, who has played for both teams. Before the prestige duel, he analyzed both teams and came to a clear conclusion.
1990 World Champion, 1996 European Champion, Footballer of the Year and 1997 UEFA Champions League Winner – Jürgen Koehler has won almost everything as a footballer. It is therefore not surprising that he has played for two of the most successful German teams of the past three decades: Borussia Dortmund (1995-2002) and Bayern Munich (1989-1991).
On Saturday, the two teams will meet at the Dortmund stadium for the first-ever match of the Bundesliga season so far (from 6.30pm on the live stream online). At t-online, Kohler takes a forward look.
Photo series with 20 photos
t-online: Mr. Koehler, you were inducted into the German Football Hall of Fame last weekend. What does that mean to you?
Jürgen Koehler: This is a great award that I was of course very happy to receive. But if I’m being completely honest, I was surprised that it came so late.
Jürgen Koehler (file photo): The former professional has completed 250 competitive games for Dortmund and 73 for Bayern Munich. (Source: imago photos)
Were you expecting it to be recorded a few years ago?
No, not necessarily. However, I have won almost all titles and been voted into my eleventh century. With this choice, there are always different opinions. There is a team of experts who make the decisions. And of course I was very happy to be accepted there – a little late in my view (laughs).
At the end of the week there will be a match at the top of the Bundesliga between BVB and FC Bayern. I played for both teams. What was the fiercest duel you have ever faced?
I can think of two – both during the BVB era. In 1999 there was a 2-2 in Dortmund, where Oliver Kahn jumped on Stefan Chapuisat with an outstretched leg. It was a very difficult match – just like the 1-1 draw in Dortmund in April 2001 when Bayern Munich’s Stefan Effenberg and Bixente Lizarazu were sent off the field. There were also ten yellow cards. Something was already going on.
Then-Bayern goalkeeper Oliver Kahn (R) lost control in the 2-2 draw in Dortmund in April 1999 and jumped with a tight leg towards Stefan Chapuisat. However, he did not meet the Serie A striker. (Source: Team Pictures 2 / Images by imago)
In Bayern Munich or the Eredivisie – where would you prefer it better?
I can’t say that (laughs). Both are big clubs that shaped me and my career. In Munich I learned that second place is in principle a losing place – this self-portrait of wanting to win titles as a competitive athlete. It was very important to have a personal conversation with Uli Hoeness when I was about 22 or 23 years old. I am still grateful to him for that. And of course I had seven wonderful years in Dortmund with a lot of great games and an exciting crowd – people just like you, who don’t want to bend down and find out who you are.
Bayern and Dortmund are only one point separated from the top of the Bundesliga table. Leverkusen III is already late. Do the two make the championship between them?
In all honesty, I hope that’s not the case. So that the upper floor becomes more interesting. In this context, I would like teams like Leverkusen, Wolfsburg or Leipzig to formulate their demands more forcefully and declare the championship as a goal. That would be good for the league. Even if many observers tend to interpret such a statement negatively, if this is not the case.
Two years ago, the BVB clearly declared the championship as a goal. Recently, the club retracted such advertisements. In your opinion, should Dortmund have scored the title as a goal before this season?
It is only important that players know why they are coming to BVB. Specifically, not only in order to develop and sell them at high prices, but above all to win titles. It’s all about this! Therefore, the BVB should clearly say: “Yes, we want to be champions.” BVB should be bolder and articulate its demands more forcefully. Bayern Munich cannot be the champion for the tenth time in a row! Something went wrong with the league.
Erling Haaland: The Dortmund player scored a 3-1 win in his first match after several weeks of injury at Wolfsburg. (Source: camera4 + photos / imago)
Who has the best Saturday cards?
I see a slight advantage for Bayern Munich and estimate the chances at 60:40. When it comes down to it, Bayern can flip the switch. They just have. And also for coach Julian Nagelsmann, it’s a special match, because it’s the first really big test. We’ll see if the team can handle the pressure. At BVB, I am particularly looking forward to the return of Erling Haaland, who scored another goal in the first game after breaking an injury. The return of this difference player is very important for Dortmund.
After BVB left the Champions League in Lisbon, I asked a question about the quality regarding the BVB squad. How do you see this compared to Bayern?
Haaland is the only differentiating player that BVB has. But this is not enough at the top. Especially when they were eliminated from the Champions League, you can see that Dortmund need these top players for tough matches. Unfortunately, BVB doesn’t have many of them.
Robert Lewandowski (right) is the top scorer in the German Bundesliga with 14 goals. He is followed by Erling Haaland in second place with ten goals. (Source: Sven Simon / Imago Pictures)
It’s a little different at Bayern Munich. With Manuel Neuer and Robert Lewandowski they have these players of absolute difference, and with Thomas Muller, Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry or Joshua Kimmich, who will not be present on Saturday, there are other players who could decide the match. When I look for such professionals in Dortmund, I must simply say: there are not many of them. They are all good players, mostly youngsters as well, and they still have some development to come – which is the only reason BVB can buy nothing in regards to the game against Bayern Munich.
I’ve also criticized the fact that many of Dortmund’s experienced players remain inconspicuous in important matches. Who is in charge of management now?
If Haaland starts playing, he’ll do it anyway. In addition to Axel Witsel, who can do so because of his class and previous positions. Usually Mats Hummels. Then Emre Can and Marco Reus when he’s at his best. There are already five or six players. But these so-called outstanding players have always disappeared in the decisive matches of recent years. Probably with the exception of last year’s Cup final.
To Halland again. Do you really see him on par with Lewandowski?
No. Because Lewandowski is simply the most complete striker and he also plays more relaxed. But Haaland is only 21, so of course he doesn’t have the same experience as Lewandowski. Lewandowski knows exactly what to do in games like Saturday’s. He’s more technically skilled, has both feet and is more dangerous in his head.
Lionel Messi: The professional soccer player brought his wife, Antonella Roccuzzo, and their three children with him. (Source: Reuters)
Lewandowski did not win the Ballon d’Or last week. He went to Lionel Messi. What do you think of the decision?
For me this is quite understandable. Lewandowski was much stronger than Messi this year. Messi faced a lot of problems, spent a disastrous season with Barcelona and was expelled early in the Champions League. The decision shows that such awards are sometimes not related to performance, but to other factors. Mohamed Salah and Karim Benzema were also on my short list. I could understand your choice. But I cannot understand that the decision was made in favor of Messi – despite all the appreciation for his great achievements over the past decades.
Back to the first game: Bayern’s new management team around Oliver Kahn have been under pressure lately – whether due to the Qatar sponsorship scandal at the annual general meeting or the vaccination discussion around Kimmich. BVB gives a completely different picture. Does Dortmund currently have a better level of management?
I wouldn’t say that. The problems Bayern are facing at the moment that they would definitely like to face in the BVB if they win titles. It’s always a question of how you look at it. In Bavaria there would be no unrest at all if the Qatar issue had not been raised and this proposal had been made at the annual general meeting. I don’t think it will affect the game on Saturday. Bayern Munich players will not be affected by it at all.
Battle of the Week: Is Ex-Titan Oliver Kahn Overwhelmed With His New Role? (Source: t-online)
Oliver Kahn in particular is under great scrutiny in this context. Critics attest to his weaknesses in public appearances. Do you see them too?
not at all. Ole is a very calm and composed guy – so it wasn’t like I saw him on the field at the time. We’ve known each other for a long time.
In my opinion, he has done well so far, but he has a different approach to his predecessors Uli Hoeness and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. He’s not that loud.