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Dortmund's Gotze to miss Champions League final against future employers

By Piers Edwards, CNN
updated 3:41 PM EDT, Wed May 22, 2013
Borussia Dortmund's Mario Gotze will miss Saturday's Champions League final against future employers Bayern Munich because of a hamstring injury. Borussia Dortmund's Mario Gotze will miss Saturday's Champions League final against future employers Bayern Munich because of a hamstring injury.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dortmund's Gotze ruled out of Saturday's Champions League final against Bayern Munich
  • Midfielder alienated some Dortmund fans by agreeing to move to Bayern on 1 July
  • Dortmund also sweating on fitness of key defender Mats Hummels

(CNN) -- The answer to the question will now never be known -- for many football fans had been wondering how Borussia Dortmund's Mario Gotze would fare when taking on future employers Bayern Munich in Saturday's Champions League final at Wembley.

After both German teams booked their place in the final, supporters, journalists and former players had asked how the 20-year-old would handle a situation whereby he had the chance to shatter Bayern's Champions League dream but such thoughts now lie idle.

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Last month, it was announced the midfielder was joining Dortmund's biggest Bundesliga rivals after the recently-crowned German champions activated his release clause with a bid of $47 million.

The move was criticized by many Dortmund fans, disappointed that a player who had been developed by the club's academy since the age of 8 was being lost so readily and by the timing of the news.

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The announcement came on the eve of the opening leg of Dortmund's Champions League semifinal with Real Madrid, which the 2012 Bundesliga champions ultimately won 4-3 on aggregate to reach their first final in 16 years.

Gotze was highly influential in the first leg but tore his hamstring 14 minutes into Dortmund's 2-0 defeat in the return fixture at the Bernabeu on April 30 -- a game that has proved to be his last for the club.

"It was my big aim to play in the final and I have been working hard to reach that in the last few weeks," Dortmund's website quoted the German international as saying on Wednesday.

"I am incredibly sorry that I can't help the team in this really important game. I have full confidence in the team and will of course be going to London to support the boys from the sidelines."

The attacking midfielder had maintained hopes of playing in London until Tuesday, when he managed an hour of training in his first full session since April until an adverse reaction curtailed his dream -- and so perhaps his chances of repairing his damaged relationship with some fans.

For while the absence of Dortmund's main playmaker represents a major tactical blow for coach Jurgen Klopp, it has been welcomed by a section of the club's supporters.

The intensity of feeling following the April announcement found some fans burning a replica of his Dortmund jersey in online videos and others labeling him 'Judas' among other protests.

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When hosting Bayern in a league match on May 4 that ended 1-1, Dortmund fans unveiled a massive banner reading 'The quest for cash reveals how much heart you really have, get lost Goetze'.

"What you find on the internet is that some Dortmund fans are not that disappointed that Gotze cannot play," said Peter Penders, a sports journalist with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine.

"A lot of them never wanted to see him in a Dortmund jersey again as they no longer saw him as the club's player after he signed for Bayern."

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"He had grown up at Borussia Dortmund and was seen as a player wholly created by Borussia Dortmund, which is why they were so disappointed."

When the transfer was announced, the charismatic Klopp revealed that Gotze's departure had hinged on the fact that former Barcelona Pep Guardiola, who will take charge of Bayern after this season, had identified him as a key player.

"The reason Gotze is leaving? He is the favorite transfer of Guardiola," Klopp told reporters. "So if it's anyone's fault, it's mine. I cannot make myself 15 centimeters smaller and learn Spanish. Gotze wants to work with this extraordinary coach that is Guardiola."

Despite the apathy of some supporters, Dortmund - who finished runner-up to Bayern in this season's German championship -- will miss the creativity of a player with 12 league goals and 13 assists in both the Bundesliga and Champions League this season.

"Gotze's absence is a major problem in attack because they have to change some other things," added Penders.

"Perhaps Marco Reus will take his position behind striker Robert Lewandowski, with Kevin Grosskreutz filling Reus' usual position on the wing."

Dortmund are also waiting on the fitness of defender Mats Hummels, who is receiving intense treatment on the ankle he damaged in Saturday's surprise home defeat by Hoffenheim.

Meanwhile, one of the players Gotze will link up with next season says Bayern must atone for final defeats to Inter Milan in 2010 and to Chelsea in their own stadium last year.

"We have to win for the fans, the club and the whole team," said Franck Ribery, who joined the Bavarian club six years ago.

"This is our third time, we have more experience, know what it means to play in a final, so it's nothing new for us, everyone knows what they have to do and how we have to play against Dortmund.

"The defeat to Inter was hard, but the loss to Chelsea really hurt, it was a huge shock for everyone," added the French winger.

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