What: Champions League final
Who: Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich
When: Saturday 25th May, 2013, at 19:45 UK Time
Where: Wembley, London, England
Dortmund Look To Repeat Vintage of 1997
Borussia Dortmund arrive in the final after a pulsating win against Real Madrid in the semi-final, where from a position of strength at 4-1 up they almost threw it away, conceding two late goals in the second leg. Coach Jurgen Klopp will now be hoping his team can repeat the feat of the last Dortmund team to have won back-to-back Bundesliga titles, and who beat Juventus in the final of this competition in 1997.
It should not be forgotten that while they are underdogs, Dortmund have a good recent record against Bayern Munich. They have not been beaten in six Bundesliga games by the Bavarian giants and the last time these sides met on neutral territory in last year’s German Cup final it was Klopp’s side who ran rampant, winning 5-2. The flip side to that was Bayern Munich’s domestic cup win against Dortmund earlier this year and the fact that the Bavarians have not lost to last season’s champions this campaign.
Dortmund’s build-up to this game has been overshadowed by the spectre of their side being broken up over the summer. Mario Gotze, who misses out through injury, is joining Bayern Munich at the end of the season and could be joined by Robert Lewandowski, the second highest scorer in the Champions League this year. Mats Hummels, formerly of Bayern Munich, is coveted by Barcelona and Europe’s biggest names are casting eyes over Dortmund’s best talents. This could therefore represent an epochal moment for Dortmund against the team who are doing more than anyone else to take their team apart. And they will be firm favourites back home in Germany, where according to a survey this week, almost 80% of those polled said they wanted Klopp’s men to win.
Redemption In Sight For Bayern Munich
With the first treble in their history in sight, Bayern Munich have won 23 of 25 games in all competitions in 2013 so far. Defeat to Arsenal and a recent draw with Dortmund in the league are the only blots on their copybook – and it is notable that neither result was particularly damaging. Against Arsenal they were almost as good as through to the Champions League quarter-finals, while the league was long won by the time they met Klopp’s men at the start of May.
Bayern Munich have scored 98 goals in the Bundesliga, a remarkable record in a 34-match league, and broken numerous other records. They have collected more points than any team in history and won the league earlier than ever before. The two-legged victory over Barcelona was also the first time that the Catalans had lost both legs of one tie in the Champions League era.
This Champions League final offers a chance of redemption for Bayern Munich, beaten in last season’s final on penalties at home in improbable circumstances to Chelsea. They also lost the 2010 final to Inter Milan. For coach Jupp Heynckes, it will be the chance to win the Champions League for the second time after victory with Real Madrid in 1998. This could be his last game and it would be a fantastic way for one of the most underrated managers of his generation to bow out.
Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Bayern Munich (04/05; Bundesliga)
Wolfsburg 3-3 Borussia Dortmund (11/05; Bundesliga)
Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Hoffenheim (18/05; Bundesliga)
Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Bayern Munich (04/05; Bundesliga)
Bayern Munich 3-0 Augsburg (11/05; Bundesliga)
Borussia Monchengladbach 3-4 Bayern Munich (18/05; Bundesliga)
Borussia Dortmund: Mats Hummels (doubt); Mario Gotze
Bayern Munich: Toni Kroos, Holger Badstuber
Players to watch
Borussia Dortmund – Marco Reus: Up against his team-mate from last season at Borussia Monchengladbach in the form of Dante, Reus will be vital for Dortmund. He has netted 19 goals this season already since rejoining his boyhood club. Reus’ close control and dribbling was a thorn for Real Madrid in the semi-final, bringing one strong penalty appeal and winning the spot kick for Lewandowksi’s fourth goal. With Gotze out, he should play in the middle behind Lewandowski, giving him more of the ball. And it may just take a swerve of the hips and the dazzling feet of Reus to prise open the Bayern Munich backline.
Bayern Munich – Thomas Muller: With eight Champions League goals Muller has scored more than anyone else in a Bayern Munich shirt this season. His knack for being in the right place at the right time has come in handy for Bayern Munich throughout his young career. Having scored what he thought was the winner in last year’s final Muller will be as eager as anyone to make amends and ensure that the Bavarians lift the cup with the big ears this time around.
This is the first time that German sides meet in the final of the Champions League, but the fourth time two teams from the same country have met each other. The last two times it happened, in 2003 and 2008, the match was decided on penalties. The prospect of that end between these two German sides is very real given how tightly contested this game could be.
Bayern Munich will be favourites, having dominated the Bundesliga this season, but it is interesting to note that the big improvement this season from last has been the pressing from the front line, an innovation modelled on what Borussia Dortmund have been doing for the last few years. By contrast, Dortmund have pressed less this season, having found themselves exposed once too often in last year’s Champions League that way. They have also been wary of Bayern Munich’s strength out wide in recent matches and looked to nullify Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. This game should therefore be quite intense and it could be quite scrappy at time, with both sides so good at winning back possession and with an emphasis on speed for both.
Finals come down to the finest of margins. When these sides met in the German Cup it was a keenly contested and tight encounter, which Bayern Munich won 1-0, and offers the best indication of what to expect – a close and cautious match, which will probably be decided by a mistake or a moment of brilliance by one side or the other. Looking through the list of match winners on both sides, the suspicion is that it will be a Robben, Ribery or Reus who prises open the opposition backline to make the decisive contribution. The first goal will be vital in this game. Bayern Munich are ruthless but also psychologically scarred by 2010 and 2012. An early Dortmund goal and they could be favourites. But expect Bayern Munich to have saved their best for last and Dortmund may have to make to do with glorious failure in the end. Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Bayern Munich, after extra time.
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