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Dortmund-Bayern Champions League Final: Why it beats an El Classico Wembley Battle

May 3, 2013 By Samrin Hasib
Barcelona will not be crowned Champions of Europe in Wembley yet again. This season, Wembley will entertain a forgotten giant and a giant which has suffered repeated heartbreak in the final.
Last season the calls for an all Spanish final at Wembley from the fans were huge. This was almost shameful, considering that there is no greater view than watching the home fans celebrate the homecoming of their team. Football was coming home; Bayern München was coming home; the Champions League was coming home. But somehow, somewhere, between Arjen Robben’s penalty miss and Didier Drogba’s fatal kiss, the trophy slipped under Bayern’s nose and traveled on a plane to London.

This time, the trophy is sitting in London. But it is set to travel in the opposite direction. The only remaining question is whether it will head to the heartland of German football, the Ruhr region, or the heartland of heartbreak, Bavaria. Bavaria has not witnessed too much heartbreak this season aside from the crushing relegation of Greuther Fürth. It has collected enough memories to last a lifetime from this season.

Many fans in Spain and around the world don’t agree that this is the perfect finale. However, in many ways this is the perfect ending to a wonderful Champions League campaign which saw wonderful games being decided by wonderful goals. There were a few boring matches along the way; however, each team used different tactics to get an advantage over their opponent.

Bayern is the only side which has shown us more than just two faces in this tournament while Borussia Dortmund is the only side which has managed to come to the finale by sticking to its original plan. These two teams are the perfect finalists for many reasons. Firstly, the all German final will not be about two players; it will not be about Messi coming head to head against Cristiano Ronaldo. It will be about two teams.

For Bayern, every player has played their part in this journey to the final. If someone has stood out, it is perhaps Bastian Schweinsteiger; without Schweinsteiger the team suffered both its defeats in this season’s Champions League. The same applies for Dortmund. Not one individual sticks out. Perhaps Ilkay Gündogan gives the midfield added creativity and calmness while Marco Reus gives the attack more pace. However, they are a team, not ten players centered around one superstar. Football is supposed to be a battle of teams. The two best teams and not the two best individuals will contest this season’s final.

An all Spanish final would have seen two sides which are equally well off financially contest the final. This is not going to be the case with the all German final. Bayern is the Prince while Dortmund is the Pauper. Dortmund’s team was built out of meager resources; the team has come to the final by putting away teams which bought far more expensive players for a shot at the Champions League including Real Madrid, Malaga, Shaktar Donetsk and Manchester City. Their rival is a team which has a perfect blend of home grown players and international stars; they have spent some big sums down the years but definitely not anywhere near the astronomical amounts Real Madrid has spent.

Also, the fact that Dortmund was on the brink of bankruptcy and was helped out by Bayern in 2004-05 gives this final an added edge. Dortmund has fought back from the brink of insolvency to come back to the top stage of European football. Also, the fact that Bayern is back in the final has an unerring feeling of rightfulness about it. They were beaten in 2010 in Madrid and suffered heartbreak in their own backyard last year. They almost deserve yet another shot at a fifth crown.

While many would have liked to see Tito Vilanova in the final due to his battles with cancer, seeing Jose Mourinho would not really have whet the appetite. The Portuguese tends to hog the limelight with his clever press conferences. It is almost more about him than about the team. Two coaches who have made it against the odds will set up the teams for this final instead.

Jürgen Klopp was known more for his punditry than his exploits with Mainz when he took over Dortmund. He had to accept a pay cut to help guide Borussia out of trouble. He was interviewed by Hamburger SV; however the lack of proper attire, meaning a suit and tie, led to HSV rejecting him for a more ‘proper’ coach in Martin Jol. Klopp forced this team to climb one mountain after another. Each season, he managed to top his own achievements with BVB in the Bundesliga barring this one.

His opponent will be an elderly gentleman who left the game after coaching turned him into a miserable man at Borussia Mönchengladbach, Schalke and Eintracht Frankfurt. Uli Hoeness got him out of retirement in 2009 when he sacked Jürgen Klinsmann. Heynckes did so well that he was hired by Bayer Leverkusen. Soon after, he was back at Bayern, guiding them to three runners up finishes in the first season of his third stint.

Heynckes has shown his tactical brilliance this season by employing different approaches to beating Dortmund, Juventus, Arsenal and Barcelona. The thumping his team gave Barcelona will obviously go down in history. The press sometimes labels Bayern as ‘Pep’s team’. In truth Bayern is anything but Pep’s team; Bayern is simply Jupp Heynckes’ team.

Heynckes has been rewarded for his patience in his third stint as coach of Bayern. He has had to deal with each personality in the Bayern dressing room and he has succeeded so far. In fact, German football has been rewarded for patiently rebuilding. This is the first time that a German team will lift one of the big international prizes on offer in the sport since Bayern lifted the Champions League in 2001.

Leverkusen made the final in 2002; following that match, there was an eight year gap until a German team, in the shape of Bayern, reappeared in the final (in 2010). Last year was supposed to be the end of the drought; it so very nearly was too. This year, the drought will finally come to an end on 25th May. At the same time, German football has managed to remain sustainable, only using as much as they are earning.

And finally, an all German final promises to be a celebration of football itself instead of a celebration of the two biggest stars in the world game. The fans will cheer on their sides in full voices in Wembley. The atmosphere will be intense. And two sides which play football in the manner in which art is created will be putting on a spectacle on the pitch.

The sheer beauty of it all would want any neutral to hope for an all German final. This is Germany’s time to shine because of everything they have given to the game in the past decade. This is the time for Bayern and Dortmund to take their rivalry beyond Stephane Chapuisat’s strike in the quarterfinals of 98 in this competition and beyond the walls of the Bundesliga.

Football has come home. It is also going home. Home is where the heart is. And the heart of football seems to be in Germany.

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