Munich - As a long-time admirer of German football, going to the Allianz Arena was an opportunity I couldn’t miss out on during my stay in Munich, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on a spare ticket for the final home game of the 2012/13 campaign.
Hottest ticket in town
As it turned out, I couldn’t have picked a better day to go. Bayern won an exciting game 3-0 and signed off the season in style. More important than the result was the aftermath, though. The home side were presented with the Bundesliga trophy, their first in three years, and instead of just a football game, I witnessed the crowning glory of one of the best teams I think I’ve ever had the privilege of watching live.
Despite Bayern having secured the title weeks ago, there were lots of unlucky fans at Fröttmaning station desperately searching in vain for a spare ticket to the biggest Bayern party in three years.
As we got off the train and made our way towards the stadium, the atmosphere amongst the home fans was one of impatience more than anything. It seemed that they were waiting for the sideshow of the game itself to pass so they could finally enjoy the main event: watching their team lift the coveted plate.
The dismal weather could not dampen the mood as the celebratory event kicked off with homage to Bayern’s heroes of yesteryear. Greats from previous eras such as Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Breitner, Gerd Müller and Oliver Kahn were all in attendance (though as a Tottenham fan I was more interested in seeing my favourite left-back Christian Ziege!).
Whilst providing a more entertaining build-up than usual to a football match, the procession really brought home to me the astonishingly rich history of this club and its dominance in German, and possibly soon, European football.
The match itself had an end-of-season feel about it. Despite battling bravely for two thirds of the game, Augsburg could not match Bayern’s firepower, especially from the bench. After Thomas Müller had opened the scoring, substitutes Xherdan Shaqiri and Luis Gustavo then completed yet another convincing win.
As an English fan, this game represented a uniquely German, and more specifically Bavarian fan experience: both sets of supporters, many clad in Lederhosen, cheering on their teams so enthusiastically (a couple of drinks here and there certainly helped) whilst both sides produced some eye-catching football. A very reasonable ticket price helped to make it an even more satisfying day out.
Plus there was the added novelty of the victorious Bayern players enjoying a well-deserved Maß of beer after the trophy presentation, though many chose to soak coach Jupp Heynckes and their teammates instead. The anticipation inside the stadium as captain Philipp Lahm was handed the trophy, and the elation when he raised it aloft amid a sea of red and white confetti, was like nothing I have ever experienced.
Perhaps the most significant and symbolic memory I will take from the Allianz is the realisation that after decades of unprecedented success for this footballing institution, this team, and incoming coach Pep Guardiola, look set to write history every bit as triumphant as the legends of ages past.