Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund set to clash in all-German UEFA Champions League Final

BayernDortmund (Getty Images)

By JUSTIN FERGUSON

Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will make UEFA Champions League history on Saturday when the two giants square off at Wembley Stadium in London in the first all-German final.

It will be a banner day for the Bundesliga, which has rallied from a mid-2000s slump in continental play to put its name in the running today for the title of best league in Europe. Germany’s top division is assured of its first Champions League crown since Bayern’s 2001 penalty kick shootout victory over Valencia in Milan.

Bayern will be hoping that the third time will be the charm at London’s Wembley Stadium on Saturday. Since their 2001 title win, Bayern have failed to reclaim Europe’s top club prize on two separate occasions—2010′s 2-0 loss to Inter Milan in Madrid and 2012′s penalty kick shootout loss to Chelsea in their own backyard.

Bayern bounced back from their disappointing trophy-less season one year ago and put together one of the most dominant seasons in recent European history. The Bavarians outscored Bundesliga opponents 98-18 en route to their record 23rd domestic league title. The last time Bayern took the field in this season’s UCL, they demolished mighty Barcelona 7-0 in two legs.

While rivals Bayern have taken control of the spotlight as the best team in the world this season, former Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund have continued their run as a force in the European game. Dortmund went undefeated in this year’s UCL “Group of Death” and pulled off a remarkable finish in their quarterfinal with Malaga. Their 4-1 first leg drubbing of Real Madrid in the semifinal allowed Dortmund to cruise into the Bernabeu and punch their first ticket to the UCL final since their 1997 victory.

The rivals tied in both of their Bundesliga matches this season, but Bayern won their German Cup and Super Cup matchups by one goal. However, Dortmund had won four straight matches against Bayern before this season began—wins that played a vital role in their back-to-back league title campaigns.

One of the biggest stories in the long buildup to this final has been Dortmund’s Mario Götze. Bayern shocked the world last month by triggering the 20-year-old star’s €37 million release clause in his Dortmund contract. The Dortmund academy product, who has been a vital part of the club’s return to prominence, will be the most expensive German player of all-time when he makes the move to Munich next month.

Götze went down with a hamstring injury early in Dortmund’s second semifinal leg with Real Madrid. Although there was a push to get the midfielder back for the final against his future club, Dortmund announced earlier this week that he would be unavailable for Saturday’s match.

The midfielder’s spot on the sideline will mean more than just the awkward Current Club vs. Future Club drama that surrounded Götze these past few weeks. His work as attacking midfielder has been crucial to Dortmund’s offense this year, and the squad has not won since his injury in late April. Even though they were meaningless matches in the Bundesliga picture, Dortmund drew twice and lost to relegation candidates Hoffenheim this month.

Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp will most likely slide Marco Reus from his usual position out on the wing into Götze’s position in the 4-2-3-1 formation. Reus, who has tallied 18 goals and 11 assists in his first season with Dortmund, will look to provide service down the middle to red-hot striker Robert Lewandowski. The Polish goalscoring machine has netted nine goals in his last 10 matches, which includes his remarkable four-goal performance against Real Madrid.

On the other side, Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes will be able to field an almost full-strength lineup on Saturday. Central midfielder Toni Kroos was also unable to make it back from his lengthy injury in time for the trip to Wembley, but Heynckes will be able to rely on Thomas Müller, who has recently played some of his best games this season at the playmaker role.

The more consistent lineup makes Bayern the favorites heading into Saturday’s final. Since their second leg loss to Arsenal in March’s Round of 16, Bayern have only drawn once in an undefeated tear through Germany and Europe. A treble is in reach for Bayern and Heynckes, who has only two matches left before handing over the reins to Pep Guardiola.

Still, Dortmund have produced some outstanding performances against the odds in their Champions League campaign and are always a tough opponent for Bayern. Recent history suggests this historic final will be a close one with the potential of being an instant classic.

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What do you think of the matchup? Think Reus will be able to fill in successfully for the injured Götze? How much will the midfielder’s absence play a part in the final? See Bayern continuing their season of dominance and breaking their slump in UCL finals? What do you predict the final score will be?

Share your thoughts below.

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33 Responses to Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund set to clash in all-German UEFA Champions League Final

  1. M says:

    It’s Bayern Munich’s year I could see them winning 4-1

  2. Vic says:

    Would be good to see Bayern win for Arjen Robben’s sake. He’s been in a Champions League and World Cup final but hasn’t won either. Came very close both times.

    • Alex says:

      That sentiment is nice but you can only feel so bad for a guy who has choked at the biggest moments of his career. I mean yes, Robben is a great player and it would be nice for that to be reflected by some shiny new silverware, but when you miss a one-on-one breakaway and a penalty kick in the finals you have lost, I don’t feel bad for you. That being said, if Robben can manage to take this game by the scruff of its neck and perform, it will be fully deserved.

      • Tony in Quakeland says:

        Wow. You beat me to it

      • Eurosnob says:

        You are a bit unfair to Robben about choking at big moments. Have you forgotten him sending ManUtd on vacation, when ManUtd was one of the favorites to win the CL?

        • Alex says:

          Sure. I mean the guy is a great player, world class, and has had world class moments against world class opponents. But I’m talking about the very biggest moments of his career. World Cup final and CL final. It doesn’t get bigger or more significant, and in those moments, he has failed to deliver. Again, if he scores a hat trick tomorrow to win the CL, it would be well deserved, and reflective of the fantastic player he is. My only point is that I don’t think feeling sorry for Robben is a good reason to root for Bayern. Hard to feel sorry for him.

    • Tony in Quakeland says:

      They will win but…unless you are a fan of the guy, why should the rest of us care about “Robben’s sake”? He has been instrumental in the failures you mention, and has been part of the reason the Dutch team was deeply disfunctional. Really, the guy has been the very embodiment of a self-center choke artist.

      If he overcomes that and plays well, then great -I’ll applaud and reconsider his growth. But really, until he proves otherwise, he is not a particularly admirable player, despite his enermous skill and ability. Maybe that’s harsh, but that’s what jumped to mind when I read your comment

      • GW says:

        Just to play devil’s advocate, not all star players from the Netherlands are the traditionally deeply unpleasant individuals we so often hear about.

        Robben is just part of a tradition.

        In that tradition he probably ranks somewhere between resembling a self centered male reproductive organ and being the sort of sticky excreta stuck on the bottom of your shoes that was originally emitted by quadruped domestic animals.

    • biff says:

      Is this for real? Tears for Arjen Robben, a key player of the Dutch team of thugs that ran wild during WC 2010? The Arjen Robben who is one of the biggest divers in the game? Oh, wait. You all are joking. Right?

      • GW says:

        In the greater scheme of things that 2010 Dutch team hardly deserve to be called thugs. There were and are worse teams out there.

        They had a few hard men in De Jong and Van Bommel but were otherwise a pretty tame group.

  3. TomG says:

    1. Bundesliga
    2. La Liga
    3. BPL
    4. Serie A
    5. Ligue 1

    Anyone disagree?

    • Tony in Quakeland says:

      Not really. I’d just say that the difference between 2,3 and 4 are pretty small. La Liga would have been top a couple years ago, but it has become more top heavy, in my opinion, and the rest of the league has declined somewhat.

    • dude says:

      The landscape is certainly changing. Given the level of teams outside the top four in England and the top 3 in La Liga, if Italy keeps improving, the Bundesliga and Serie A could push their way to the top of the pile.

      Wonder if those Champions League slots will change any time soon.

      • Joamiq says:

        There is no more top four in England, and hasn’t been for a few years now. The Premier League is the most balanced of the top leagues.

    • Vic says:

      I disagree. You can’t judge a league based on one season. Top players want to go to BPL, Madrid and Barcelona. After that they will go to Bayern Munich but no other German team. I do give credit to the Bundesliga for their youth development. Its also great that you can get a Bundesliga game ticket for $15-$20 however that prevents teams from spending big for players.

      • TomG says:

        I am judging them based on their current level. If you’d like to use a different time period, you’re welcome to.

      • Karol says:

        “Top players want to go to BPL, Madrid and Barcelona. After that they will go to Bayern Munich but no other German team. ”

        And how many players in the Premier League are good enough to play for Bayern?

    • Increase says:

      La Liga might still be a bit better than the Bundesliga… but it won’t be for long with the way Spain’s economy is going.

      Type that again next year and I think you are correct.

      The EPL has issues in that their best teams are clearly not as good as the top teams from other leagues. City and Manu just…. couldn’t cut it in the Champs league this year.
      Manu did okay though.

    • Eurosnob says:

      It’s a good list, although there may be an argument for switching Bundesliga and La Liga. Very few folks would have placed Bundesliga at the top of their list just a couple months ago, but the top two German teams are indisputably in a better form than Spanish teams at the moment. But for a couple of bad calls by the refs, Malaga could have been in the semifinals instead of Dortmund, which would have placed 3 Spanish teams in the semifinals along with Bayern. Anyhow, it’s a good list and both Bundesliga and La Liga deserve to be in the top 2.

      • TomG says:

        Certainly arguable. The two German teams looked so dominant last round, though, and the league seems to be deeper than La Liga.

    • GW says:

      UEFA disagrees:

      If you are just talking about Champions league sure but UEFA ranks them differently
      1. Spain
      2. BPL
      3. Germany
      4. Italy
      5. Portugal
      6. France
      Their criteria takes into account more than just the Champions league, and goes into greater depth and covers a longer period than yours probably does.

    • Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

      Hmmm…I would say there are 5 legit teams in the EPL that can win the league and maybe 2-3 in the other leagues so I would put the EPL 1. Thoughts?

      • GW says:

        Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea are the only legitimate EPL title contenders.

        Any other club would a massive upset.

  4. dude says:

    Without Reus and Goetze feeding Lewandowski, no chance. The guy who filled in for Goetze in the last game had three clear chances to put Lewandowski in on goal with a simple through ball, and the quality was dirt poor. If Madrid can beat a Goetzeless team 2-0, imagine what this Bayer team can do.

  5. Frank says:

    I feel sorry for Holger Badstuber. He missed the majority of this season for Bayern and will be out another 10 months following his recent knee surgery putting his participation at the WC 2014 in doubt.

    It’s a shame Goetze won’t be able to play. There is no doubt in my mind that he would have given everything to lift the trophy.

    • biff says:

      I suspect that Gotze is greatly relieved not to be playing. Would have been a very tense situation for him playing against his future teammates and in front of 24,000 Dortmund fans in Wembley who–well, let’s put it mildly– no longer like him. On the boards in Germany, a lot of comments from fans who do not believe he is truly injured. All in all, a bad situation and not a good way to be leaving Dortmund and a shame.

      • Frank says:

        Why is it such a big deal? You would think he wants to win another trophy. Both teams are already qualified for next year’s UCL so how is Goetze going to benefit from a Bayern Munich win? Regardless of the outcome, some fans will be upset with him.

    • biff says:

      I will add, I feel a heck of a lot sorrier for the Dortmund fans and for Gotze’s soon-to-be ex-teammates than I do for Gotze. Several of his teammates were totally gutted by the news. There is an interesting and poignant letter to Gotze from a Dortmund fan that ran on G dot com. I’m not sure whether I am allowed to link that web site here. I will link the letter below and apologize in advance to SBI if not allowed.

  6. SecretSquirrel says:

    After all these years, the Germans have finally taken over London

  7. Matt says:

    Anyone know what the TV schedule looks like in the US? is it just fox sports?