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Germans Invade Wembley for Champions League Final


Bayern and Borussia Logos

The improvement in German football in recent years was underlined by the 2013 Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at Wembley. It was the first time that two German teams have featured in the final of European club football's most prestigious competition, and the high quality nature of the match proved that it's now these two teams, and not defeated semi-finalists Barcelona and Real Madrid, who are at the summit of the European game.

British club sides struggled in this season's Champions League, with Manchester City and Chelsea falling at the group stage, and Arsenal and Celtic at the first knockout stage (though the latter did achieve a memorable home win over Barcelona). Motherwell failed to reach the group stage. Of the six British sides that entered the competition only Manchester United reached the quarter-finals, and the balance of power in European football has now shifted from both England and Spain to Germany.

Bayern Munich were favourites going into the Wembley final, having streaked away to clinch the German title in April. But if there was one team capable of denying Bayern one of the great football trophies it was Borussia Dortmund. Dominating German football before Bayern's resurgence this year, Dortmund showed no fear of their lauded opponents and were the better side in the opening 20 minutes of the game, testing Manuel Neuer several times. Bayern, predictably, came back and it was Mario Mandzukic who came closest to scoring in the first half, when his close range header was tipped onto the crossbar by Dortmund 'keeper Roman Weidenfeller.

The 2013 Champions League final began at a high intensity together with good technical ability, and the pace and quality was not to tail off in this gripping game. Neither side were content in grinding out a result, and a goal surely had to come, and it duly arrived on the hour mark - for Bayern. Arjen Robben took advantage of slack defending by Dortmund to reach the byline, and then put in a low cross which Mandzukic tapped home.

A lesser side than Dortmund might have buckled against this formidable Bayern side, but a clumsy challenge by Dante on Marco Reus gave the underdogs the chance to level things on 68 minutes. Ilkay Gundogan calmly belied the fact that he wasn't Dortmund's regular penalty taker, and sent Neuer the wrong way to equalise.

Bayern were, in truth, dominating the second half, but extra time was beckoning. Then, on 89 minutes, Franck Ribery got a touch to a speculative long ball, which let Robben in on goal. The Dutchman expertly placed the ball into the Dortmund net to make Bayern champions of Europe for the fifth time.

For Arjen Robben, his winning goal made up for his penalty miss against Chelsea in last year's final. For departing Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, victory saw him join the small list of coaches who have coached two different teams to European Cup/Champions League glory.
Images courtesy of:

Borussia Dortmund

Bayern Munchen

UEFA Champions League

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