Bayern, Dortmund renew rivalry as Super Cup kicks off season

BERLIN (AP) " Few fans place too much importance on the German Super Cup but the participation of old rivals Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund is giving the traditional season curtain-raiser an extra edge.

Sunday's game at Dortmund's Westfalenstadion provides an opportunity to measure their readiness for the season, which starts in full with German Cup ties the following weekend and the first round of the Bundesliga the weekend after that.

New Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti has overseen a quiet summer by the club's usual standards, but the Italian has the luxury of inheriting a side that is hard to improve after four consecutive league titles.

Exciting Portugal youngster Renato Sanches and former Dortmund captain Mats Hummels are the only additions, with the club allowing Mario Goetze to return to Dortmund, accompanied by Sebastian Rode, with defenders Medhi Benatia and Serdar Tasci also leaving. Young forward Patrick Weihrauch has joined second-division Wuerzburger Kickers.

Ancelotti's tenure will not be judged on success in the Super Cup, but on finishing the job predecessor Pep Guardiola was brought in to do - winning the Champions League. The Italian tactician has managed that feat three times already, twice with Milan and once with Real Madrid. As for domestic football, continued domination of the Bundesliga is almost a prerequisite at Bayern.

Dortmund counterpart Thomas Tuchel is under no such pressure in his second season, despite overseeing a commendable upturn in fortune in his first by restoring the club's status as Bayern's chief rival.

Dortmund pushed Bayern nearly to the end in the Bundesliga last season, while Guardiola's side needed penalties to beat Tuchel's team in the German Cup final.

Tuchel has to rebuild the side this season following the summer departures of key players Hummels, Ilkay Gundogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Midfielder Moritz Leitner became the latest to leave Friday, switching to Lazio on a four-year deal.

Goetze's return and fellow German international Andre Schuerrle's switch from Wolfsburg have grabbed the headlines, though exciting attacking midfielder Ousmane Dembele has also raised expectations of another high-scoring campaign. Dortmund scored more goals (82) than any other side in the Bundesliga last season.

The additions of Rode from Bayern, Marc Bartra from Barcelona, fellow defender Raphael Guerreiro of Portugal, and midfielders Emre Mor and Mikel Merino have eased worries over the departures' impact.

The Super Cup is Ancelotti's first competitive game in charge of Bayern and the first meeting between the sides since the German Cup final. There will be more important matches later in the season but neither will want to lose face in the first.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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