Robert Lewandowski and Jurgen Klopp. (Photo: Reuters)
Wembley Stadium will host the all-German Champions League final between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich Saturday. Kick-off is at 2:45 p.m. and live coverage is available on Fox or via online streaming (at user’s risk).
A game guaranteed to be high-pressure, high-drama and high-emotion, unless Bayern blitz Dortmund out of London. The team from Munich have walked the Bundesliga this season, winning it by 25 points ahead of Saturday’s opponents. Bayern completely destroyed the mighty Barcelona in the semi-final and are also in the German cup final. Jupp Heyncks’ have been dominant in every competition this year and certainly the pre-game favorites, but Dortmund, as they showed in the first-leg against Real Madrid, are capable of irrepressible performances.
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The teams have met each other three times this season. In the German cup quarterfinals Bayern eked out a1-0 win and the two league meetings finished 1-1. Dortmund would be encouraged by their league performances having not lost to Bayern in Bundesliga for three years.
Their impressive record against Munich represents a re-emergence of Dortmund at the top of European football. Last season and the season before, Jurgen Klopp’s team won the German league title. Bayern, in this period, were clearly the dominant side in Europe reaching the Champions League final last year and two years ago, both of which they lost. Last season, their impressive run to the final was forgotten amidst the disappointment of being beaten by Chelsea in their home stadium. A power struggle began to materialize where Bayern’s status as the best team in Germany came under threat by a young team with a young manager who had young ideas.
The situation prompted Bayern into action and they invested heavily in the team last summer with purchases (allowed for by their financial power) of Javi Martinez, Mario Mandzukic, Dante, Xherdan Shaqiri and Claudio Pizzaro. The new additions gave them the strength in depth and freshness to still be in contention for winning a treble. However, if Bayern lose, it would be three final defeats in the last four years, a demoralizing statistic.
Bayern have already begun to strengthen their squad for next season and they have targeted Dortmund’s players. Striker Robert Lewandowski is strongly believed to be on the verge of signing for Bayern while playmaker Mario Gotze has already agreed to join. The German champions have the finances to meet the buy-out clauses, leaving Dortmund no choice in the transfers.
In a rich sense of karmic justice, Gotze will be out for the game, the biggest of his career thus far. The loss will severely weaken Dortmund’s attack with the less accomplished Kevin Großkreutz likely to take his place.