Gotze OUT of Champions League final in blow for Dortmund as he misses farewell match against team he'll join
Mario Gotze will miss the Champions League final – meaning he will avoid another angry backlash from furious Borussia Dortmund fans.
The forward has been ruled out of Saturday’s showpiece at Wembley with a thigh injury. It is a major blow for manager Jurgen Klopp, who leads his side into battle against Bayern Munich in a bid to be crowned champions of Europe.
Yet, Gotze may be relieved to avoid another backlash from fans after going house hunting in Munich in the build-up to Saturday’s all-German Champions League final.
The trip last week was ostensibly for a consultation with a Munich specialist but he ended up dividing his time between having his hamstring injury treated and touring one of the city’s most desirable residential areas.
He evidently viewed an apartment that was to his liking and while no-one can blame him for planning ahead, it is bound to be seen as insensitive by Dortmund followers so close to his planned farewell appearance against the team he is about to join, in the biggest club game German football has known.
Still a fortnight short of his 21st birthday, he will apparently take any escalation of hostility towards him in his stride.
Such a sustained level of abuse, since his £31.5million defection to Bayern was announced a month ago, might normally be enough to test the fortitude of the most seasoned campaigner, but a Dortmund source insisted: ‘You will not find a cooler customer than Mario.
‘Throughout all that has happened over the past few weeks, he has remained the same person, single-minded in his outlook and absolutely determined to sign off as a Champions League winner.
‘You would think he was in his mid-30s, such is his temperament. He is completely in control of his emotions and never gets flustered or intimidated by anything.
‘This will be the biggest game he has played in, and it could be made all the more difficult if he is singled out by the fans, but there won’t be any nerves. There never are.
‘Everyone at the club considers him a good guy, and you have to admire his self-belief. Nothing
News of the escape clause in his contract being triggered caused growing anger and resentment and forced manager Klopp to intervene and appeal for calm, as his side prepared for their Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid at the Westfalenstadion last month.
Despite Klopp’s best efforts, Gotze still needed a police escort to and from training the following day, and there was little sign of fans reconciling themselves to his departure, as they stepped up their protests.
A photograph posted on Twitter showed Gotze’s yellow Dortmund shirt hanging on a peg, with JUDAS scrawled across where his name should be.
On YouTube, there was footage of another Dortmund jersey, with his name and number on the back, being burned, in what looked like someone’s garage.
In a more sinister development, there were reports his younger brother returned home from school early, after suffering ‘traitor’ taunts, and that the family home had been spray painted by Dortmund ultras.
The extreme reaction underlined why Dortmund had been at pains to keep the move under wraps.
They had no choice but to go public, though, after chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke was alerted to top-selling German newspaper Bild having impeccably-sourced evidence that the transfer had been agreed.
As part of the bitter fall-out, Robert Lewandowski may have to wait to join his team-mate at the Allianz Arena.
Such is Dortmund’s ill-feeling towards their Bundesliga rivals that they are ready to dig their heels in and make Lewandowski see out the remaining 12 months on his contract, rather than sell him to Bayern now.
Lewandowski has made it clear he wants to follow Gotze to Bayern, and they have not only agreed to meet the asking price but drawn up a contract that has been met with the Dortmund striker’s approval.
But Watzke is having none of it and is adamant he would rather forfeit upwards of £20m than sanction another Bayern raid on Klopp’s best players.
As German football gears up for its big night at Wembley, it looks like being a case of who blinks first, off the pitch as well as on it.