Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Ultimate Battle for German Supremacy Takes Center Stage at Champions League Final

Bayern Munich is far and away the most prestigious club in German soccer. With a record 23 Bundesliga championships and having consistently dominated the league while accumulating the best of Germany's talent, they are truly the pride of the nation.

But recently, a rival club has emerged to shake up the foundation. Borussia Dortmund has assembled a squad of talented youngsters that has provided a true test for Bayern Munich.

Borussia Dortmund won the Bundesliga last season, and although Bayern Munich did reclaim the title this year, the ultimate prize for both teams is the Champions League Final. These teams are now set to play in the final for the greatest of glory and bragging rights in Germany.

Bayern Munich has been a team of disappointment in recent Champions League Finals. Losing the 2010 final to Inter Milan was heartbreaking, but even worse was the final last year when Chelsea equalized at the end of regulation and ended up winning the title on penalties, in the home stadium of Bayern Munich no less.

Having been so disappointed in themselves, the club roared into action this season and claimed the Bundesliga crown in record time.

In the Champions League, Bayern Munich has been ruthless, dispatching of Arsenal, Juventus, and Barcelona often in quite decisive fashion. Their victory over Barcelona was legendary as Bayern Munich won with a 7-0 aggregate score, proving their worth with every goal.

But as impressive as Bayern Munich has been, Borussia Dortmund has been exciting. Topping the "group of death" consisting of Manchester City, Real Madrid, and Ajax, Borussia Dortmund then went on to defeat Shaktar Donetsk, Malaga, and Real Madrid, often in quite thrilling fashion. Their victory over Malaga was most exciting as two stoppage time goals pushed the side through in the tie.

Against Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund won commandingly at home 4-1 with Robert Lewandowksi the hero scoring all 4 goals. For the return leg they thwarted a late Real Madrid charge and held on to secure a place in the final.

And now the two clubs will play for the largest of stakes at Wembley Stadium in London, and will lay to rest the argument over which club is the king of Germany.

There is always an added element of excitement when a Champions League Final is between two teams of the same country, as the players, coaches, and fans truly know each other inside and out. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have met twice so far this season, with both matches ending in 1-1 draws.

However, the Champions League Final will require a winner, and both teams have more than enough players that are capable of sparking such a victorious moment in the match.

Bayern Munich is a team built around speed and ruthless power. Wide players like Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery often lead the attacks and send in passes to players like Mario Gomez and Thomas Muller to finish off for goals.

With so much offensive creativity, Munich is excellent at manufacturing quick goals. With other German international stars like Phillip Lahm, Manuel Neuer, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, Munich is a well-balanced and organized team. Bayern Munich has had one of their best years in history and has only lost 3 total games in all their competitions. To wrap up their fine year with a Champions League trophy is now an obsession and any failure to do so would result in a sad end to such a fine season.

Additionally, Bayern Munich will say farewell to manager Jupp Heynckes at the end of the season, who is to be replaced by former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola. Heynckes will surely want to become a Bayern Munich legend by winning the trophy, especially having seen his team come so close a year ago.

Borussia Dortmund is also a team devoted to speed and quick breaks. They have brilliantly amassed a team of young players that are a sure bet to become world-renowned stars in the coming years.

Leading the frontline is Robert Lewandowski, a very talented Polish goal scorer with 35 goals on the season. Additionally, the team houses a great deal of Germany’s best young talent with midfielders Mario Gotze and Marco Reus.

The defense is manned by Mats Hummels who is a superstar defender in the making. Manager Jurgen Klopp must be praised for his ability to mold this young crop of players into Champions League contenders. Dortmund is experiencing a great upheaval though and will lose several key players next year.

Lewandowski has been linked away for a while and is expected to depart soon. Mario Gotze broke the hearts of fans when it was recently announced that he is already headed for Bayern Munich this summer in a big money deal.

Such a transfer is a sad affair for the player, especially considering this massive game between the two clubs. For Borussia Dortmund, one has the feeling that winning the Champions League is a now or never proposition. Bayern Munich has great talent and is widely expected to simply bring in more star players, so we should expect their dominance to continue.

The match should be an exciting, fast paced affair with two teams that will go for it. Based on their incredible season domestically, and with the dominance showed against Barcelona in both legs of their semi-final matchup, I feel that Bayern Munich are the favorites in this game. Borussia Dortmund is a great test though and will provide an enthralling match.

Additionally, one would have to be brave to put money on Munich considering their two recent Champions League Final defeats. Truth be told, this is a total toss-up of a match with two teams that play free-flowing soccer. I envision Bayern Munich winning it late, 3-2.

Nicholas Spiller

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