Friday, May 24, 2013

Choker tag on the line

The UCL final at Wembley is the main event of the week-end, pitting the 2 German teams Bayern Munich and Dortmund. On paper and based on form, Bayern looks difficult to beat and is the overwhelming favourite. But looks are very deceiving. For those that think that the Munich team will win it easily, consider this; Bayern have not beaten Dortmund in a league game for the past couple of years. They have lost more UCL finals than they've won. They lost when to Porto in 1987 when practically no-one thought the Portuguese had the slightest chance. Last year, they lost the final to Chelsea when playing at their vaunted Allianz Arena. They also lost to Man Utd during the Red Devils' Triple Crown coronation in 1999, and again to Mourinho's Inter Milan in the 2010 Final. In comparison, Dortmund's sole UCL final appearance and victory came as a massive under-dog against Juventus in 1997.

So, the word "choker" springs to mind when The Bavarians get to the final. But that's not to say that this year  might not be different; Bayern really look overwhelmingly strong this year. They crushed the Bundesliga early and annihilated Barcelona on their way to Wembley. This is a team that is really on the ascendancy and will be peaking in the coming years, provided upcoming coach Guardiola does not wreck them.

Against them is a strong Dortmund team that has the belief that this Cup is theirs for the taking. They were nearly dead and buried against Malaga, yet conjured up 2 goals in injury-time to make it through. They were not supposed to overcome mighty Real Madrid, yet they outplayed and outscored them. On its best day, this team can beat anyone, even Bayern. They are led by a maestro motivator in manager Klopp. They have world-class players like Lewandowski, Reus and Gotze that can open up any defence. But here's one thing; Gotze will miss the final due to a hamstring injury. That's a massive blow for Dortmund. He's their playmaker and although he's Bayern-bound next year, he would have been a real threat for the men in yellow.

The pressure will definitely be more on Bayern. They have to score first and preferably early to settle their nerves. Their ability to impose their game will be instrumental. They have beaten their opponents in the German Cup this season which will have given them belief that they can win the game in 90 minutes. Dortmund will most probably sit back and rely on their deadly counter-attack. Anything can happen in a final; the team that makes of the most of its chances will win. There's no certainty here; but I think that with some luck, Bayern is ready to dispel the myths and confirm the current thinking that they are indeed the best in Europe. Whether in full or injury-time, or on penalties, my feeling is that the Bavarians will prevail.

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