It is an all-German affair in England as Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich clash at Wembley in the UEFA Champions League. It has been arguably the finest season of Champions League football since its inception and the final should not disappoint.
The way in which the finalists swept aside Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively in the last four was hugely impressive, in particular Bayern who beat the mighty Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate. That scoreline over two legs is quite simply astonishing but it did not flatter Bayern who were superior in every department to the Catalans.
Dortmund moved all focus to chasing football’s grand club prize after proving their worth domestically with back-to-back Bundesliga titles from 2010 to 2012. Just like Chelsea in the previous season, Dortmund rode their luck to the brink after facing a 2-1 deficit to Malaga in the last eight, before two injury time strikes stole victory from the jaws of defeat.
Facing the unenviable task of toppling Europe’s greatest achieving football club, Real Madrid, Jurgen Klopp and his fluid football silenced the Bernabeu in one of Dortmund’s most famous victories. Jose Mourinho and Madrid returned with scintillating football of their own in the second leg, but Borussia held on to record a memorable 3-2 aggregate win.
Their place in the final is deserved as they topped the group of death unbeaten. That group consisted of Real Madrid who they beat at home and drew away too; Manchester City who they also beat at home and drew away too and Ajax Amsterdam whom they dispatched of in both fixtures. Phenomenal centre-back Matt Hummels is an injury doubt for the final after damaging ankle ligaments in Dortmund’s shock 2-1 Bundesliga defeat at home to Hoffenheim last Saturday.
The form of Robert Lewandowski both domestically and in cup competitions has made him one of the most feared strikers in Europe, and with Marco Reus and Mario Gotze supporting, opposition defences rarely get respite. Gotze, who recently agreed to a record-breaking transfer move to Bayern, will play his last game in the famous yellow.
Bayern Munich are one of the most decorated clubs in Europe and will enter their second successive Champions League final, again favourites after a splendid season in Europe to compliment their runaway triumph in the Bundesliga. The four-time European champions will carry all the confidence in the world after trouncing one of football’s greatest teams in Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate.
The Bavarians finished the Bundesliga season with a seven-goal thriller. Having lifted the German league shield two weeks ago, Bayern came from two goals down to secure a 4-3 win at Borussia Monchengladbach, with France winger Franck Ribery scoring twice and creating the other goals. The champions dug deep for their 29th league victory in 34 matches, as Arjen Robben hit the second-half winner after Gladbach had scored three goals in the opening 10 minutes. Bayern finish the league season with 25 Bundesliga records, including most wins (29), most points (91), fewest goals conceded (18) and the biggest points lead over the side in second (25).
The Bundesliga champions were not entirely convincing in the group stage but they have been imperious in knockout matches and were excellent against Juventus in the last eight, prevailing 2-0 in both matches, before humiliating the Spanish champions. That means they are yet to concede a goal since the last 16. A 25-point lead domestically over Saturday’s opponents tells its own story and Bayern just keep on winning. Bayern have match-winners all over the pitch and their spine, in particular, is mighty strong.
In Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger the favourites have a wonderful two-pronged midfield base for their creative players to thrive beyond and, crucially, they are not overly reliant on any one player for goals. Versatile forward Thomas Muller, who scored in last year’s final has been superb for the Bavarians this Champions League campaign with eight goals, while Dutch flyer Arjen Robben, who will look to make amends for his poor final showing in 2012, has been Munich’s best provider with five. Bayern are still bidding for the treble with the German Cup final against Stuttgart to contest on 1 June.
The German giants have already met four times this season with Dortmund failing to record a victory and Bayern earning two wins. Bayern have showed their quality in the last few weeks of the Bundesliga while Dortmund have stuttered. Bayern Munich are tipped to get the win.