Germany’s two best teams have blown away all before them in Europe this season and nobody would deny the Bundesliga’s top two deserve to be in the final. The likes of Real Madrid CF,FC Barcelona,AFC Ajax and Juventus FC, as well as others, have all fallen at the hands of Bayern and Dortmund this season. Five clubs on that list were winners of their domestic title last season, but perhaps most impressively, they had won 19 Champions League and European Cup titles between them. The Bundesliga’s collective achievement in re-placing the goalposts of European football merits special praise indeed.
Third time lucky for Bayern?
The Bavarians had their press conference before that of their opponents in the bowels of Wembley on Friday afternoon. The team have reached their third final in four seasons, and although their last final appearance had one of the most heart-breaking finishes in recent memory, the fact that the players have been there before could be the biggest advantage they have over BVB.
“We’re calm, well-prepared and we know what we need to do,” said captain Philipp Lahm. “There’s never a guarantee that you’ll win when you play in a final, but we’ve improved, matured and developed really well in the last three years.” Those sentiments were echoed by teammate Thomas Müller, who perhaps feels the defeat of last season more than most. The 23-year-old opened the scoring against Chelsea but then had to watch on helplessly as the penalty shootout went awry for the Reds. “After two finals, there aren’t any nerves from our side,” he said with a fixed gaze.
Dortmund with nothing to lose
Dortmund's Mats Hummels, Sebastian Kehl, and especially head coach Jürgen Klopp were just as calm when taking the media’s questions, but it was a calmness laced with a sense of gratitude at being able to call themselves finalists. “We have an opportunity to write history here for this club,” said Hummels. “Of course there is pressure on us, but this won’t be the last time that this team contests a final.” Hummels will be fit enough to play after suffering an ankle injury against Hoffenheim last week, but Mario Götze misses out.
Kehl backed up the words of his teammate. “It’s a similar situation to 1997 [when Dortmund defied the odds to beat Juventus in the final],” believes the 33-year-old. “But the game will be decided by small details, and it’s about how you can embrace it and take pleasure from the experience. This is an amazing stadium with a brilliant atmosphere, and we want to take that in.”
Klopp’s last words
Fittingly, the press conference was concluded with some hopeful final words from Klopp. “It’s a surprise that we’re in the final, and a result like that in 1997 can happen again,” says the former 1. FSV Mainz 05 coach.
“But we are a team that has grown for five years, and that type of development wouldn’t be possible at another club. Our aim isn’t to rival Bayern, but to compete with them in one-off games like this. If we do that, then we can win.”
Bayern: Neuer - Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba - Schweinsteiger, Martinez - Robben, Müller, Ribery - Mandzukic
Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - Gündogan, Bender - Blaszczykowski, Reus, Großkreutz- Lewandowski