Munich - Title-holders Borussia Dortmund host SV Werder Bremen on Friday evening (20:30 CEST) to kick off the 2012/13 Bundesliga campaign with 80,645 spectators expected inside the sold-out Signal Iduna Park to witness the season opener. With both sides ready to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Germany's top flight, it promises to be an entertaining encounter.
BVB eye title treble
The match will be a repeat of the Bundesliga's inaugural fixture which was played on 24 August 1963. The late Timo Konietzka opened the scoring with a first-minute goal, but he was powerless to prevent BVB losing 3-2 at Bremen's Weserstadion. 39-time German international goalkeeper Hans Tilkowski (Borussia Dortmund) and Arnold "Pico" Schütz (Werder Bremen) will carry the championship plate onto the pitch on Friday, before league president Dr. Reinhard Rauball officially ushers in the new campaign.
The reigning champions come into the match looking to protect an unbeaten run of 28 league matches dating back to September 2011. Furthermore, Dortmund could become the first Bundesliga side since Bayern Munich to win three successive league championships this season, but BVB coach Jürgen Klopp has played down his club's ambitions. "We want to qualify for the Champions League - nothing more and nothing less", the 45-year-old said in an interview with German sports magazine "Kicker". "If we manage to play the football which has made Borussia Dortmund successful over the past few years, the season will be a success whether titles are won or not."
Marco Reus, Germany's Footballer of the Year in 2011/12, joined Dortmund from Borussia Mönchengladbach in the summer and big things are expected upon his return to BVB. The attacking midfielder, who represented the Westphalia side at youth level, is expected to fill the void left by Shinji Kagawa's move to Manchester United this summer. Rising star Mario Götze, who came on for Reus in Dortmund's 3-0 win against lower league side FC Oberneuland in the first round of the DFB Cup, is expected to win his fitness battle, but holding midfielder Sven Bender will be out after undergoing surgery.
Schaaf: "A wonderful stage"
Werder Bremen failed to win any of their last nine Bundesliga games in the previous campaign and Thomas Schaaf's side didn't get off to the best of starts this season either, losing to third division side Preußen Münster (4-2) in the DFB Cup. However, being given the honour of appearing in such a prestigious match could be the boost Bremen need to enjoy a more promising opening to their league campaign. "This is a wonderful stage. I don't think there is anything better. There will be an incredible atmosphere in front of 83,000 spectators, even if 76,000 of them are rooting against you. You can't get more attention than that," said Schaaf.
Werder finished in ninth place at the end of a disappointing campaign last year and are very much a club in transition as they look to reclaim their place amongst the Bundesliga's elite. The loss of star striker Claudio Pizarro, who joined Bayern Munich, and Marko Marin (Chelsea) has taken it's toll on the side and forced head coach Schaaf to be pro-active in the transfer market. New-recruits Theodor Gebre Selassie, Kevin De Bruyne, Eljero Elia and Nils Petersen are all expected to make their Bundesliga debuts at the Signal Iduna Park. With the 50th Bundesliga season ready to get underway there is no doubt, as Petersen put it himself, that "all eyes will be on this match".