The all-German Champions League final on Saturday pits traditional powerhouses Bayern Munich against modernists Borussia Dortmund at London’s Wembley Stadium with more at stake than Europe’s premier club trophy.
Bayern, four-time European champions, are Germany’s richest and most successful club, while rejuvenated Borussia Dortmund won the trophy in 1997 but came to the brink of financial ruin in 2005. The Ruhr valley club has recovered on a sporting level under coach Juergen Klopp, challenging Bayern’s dominance in the past two seasons before the Munich club reclaimed the league title last month in record-breaking fashion.
The Bavarians, in the first all-German Champions League final, are desperate to erase memories of two lost finals in 2010 and 2012 and reclaim their top spot by beating the team that forced them to go two seasons without any domestic silverware. Last season’s Champions League final defeat in Munich to Chelsea on penalties has been especially bitter to swallow for Bayern but now Jupp Heynckes’ team stands before an unprecedented treble for a German club. Heynckes, who has announced an end to his long Bundesliga career and will be replaced by former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola at the end of the season, could leave after completing a trio of titles including the German Cup, 12 months after what for other teams could have been a back-breaking defeat.
“To be able to rise again after such a final defeat last year shows that my players are carved out of special wood,” said Heynckes, who looks set to retire from football. “That is why I am convinced that we will lift the trophy. We have incredible mental strength, we cannot be pushed over.”
For several Bayern players, the final could be the last chance for a major international trophy that has been eluding them with both club and country.
Bayern playmaker Bastian Schweinsteiger and captain Philipp Lahm have enjoyed hugely successful footballing careers but, both in their late 20s, they are running out of chances for a big trophy.