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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Champions League Final – Bayern Munich versus Borussia Dortmund – Their Road to the Final



Germany’s top two football sides Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are set to play a masterpiece final of the UEFA Champions League at Wembley this Saturday, May 25.

The two giants who have taken control of the Bundesliga League over the last couple of years will square off in the first ever all-German Champions League final after cruising past opponents in the earlier stages before sweeping past Barcelona and Real Madrid in the semi-finals.

The odds may be against Dortmund and slightly in favour of the Bavarians who are entering their second final in as many years but the Die Schwarzgelben will be anything but an easy prey. Indeed, Bayern have been simply sensational this season and are in line for an exceptional treble should they win the Champions League and the DFB Pokal (German Cup) which they will play against VfB Stuttgart exactly a week later.

Dortmund on the other hand have lost only once in this year’s competition, a 2-0 reversal against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the semifinals second leg. Jurgen Klopp’s men have been inarguably the best team in the competition, results only serving to reflect their delectable football. The two teams have met 5 times since May last year with Bayern coming out tops twice, Dortmund once while the other two matches ended in draws.

Their most recent meeting was just three weeks ago on May 4 in a Bundesliga match that ended 1-1 after Mario Gomez cancelled out Kevin Grosskreutz’s opener for Dortmund. Before that, Bayern beat the Westfalenstadion club 1-0 in the DFB Pokal quarter final matchup. Although preparations for the match is dogged by news that Bayern-bound Mario Gotze will miss out the epic encounter due to a harm string injury and also speculations about whether Dortmund's top-dog Robert Lewandowski will switch to their rivals next season, such news should not overshadow what promises to be a larger-than-life, mother-of-all-battles matchup come Saturday.

ROAD TO THE FINALS – GROUP STAGES

No one would dare argue that the Bundesliga duo haven’t deserved a place in the final of Europe’s top club competition. Dortmund were especially imperious in their group of death, Group D, matches that had 9-time champions Real Madrid, 4-time Dutch winners Ajax and then Premier League reigning champions Manchester City. Bayern were drawn in Group F with Valencia, BATE Borisov and Lille.

Dortmund started off with a 1-0 win against the Dutch, Robert Lewandowski breaching their stubborn rearguard in the 87th minute to give the Germans a vital win in front of their home crowd.

The second match was away to Manchester City on October 3. The match ended on a 1-1 stalemate after Mario Balotelli’s penalty in injury time put the teams level following Marco Reus’ opener for the Bundesliga side. Next in line, they welcomed Real Madrid to the Signal Iduna Park. Lewandowski fired them ahead in the 36th minute only for Cristiano Ronaldo to draw level two minutes later. Dortmund would not be denied though as 25-year-old German leftback Marcel Schmeizer scored the winning goal four minutes after the hour mark.

The return leg in Madrid a fortnight later ended in a 2-2 draw, Pepe and Ozil on the mark for Madrid while Reus and an Alvaro Arbeloa own goal ensured the visitors left Spain with a point.

On November 21st, Dortmund made the trip to Holland for their second leg match against Ajax. They powered past the Dutch side with a 4-1 win that guaranteed them qualification to the last 16. Roberto Lewandowski struck twice while Reus and Gotze were also on target. Danny Hoesen scored the consolation goal for Ajax late in the second half. Dortmund won their last group stage fixture 1-0 against Manchester City, a result that knocked out the English side and gave Klopp’s side top spot.

Bayern’s group looked slightly easier by their standards. They won their first, and perhaps most difficult match on paper, 2-1 against Valencia with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos on target. They then suffered a shocking 3-1 loss to BATE Borisov but bounced back with a 1-0 win away to Lille in their third match before destroying the French side 6-1 in the return leg in Munich with Claudio Pizzaro grabbing a 16-minute hat-trick. The Bavarian’s 1-1 draw to Valencia in the next match made their 4-1 win over BATE a mere formality having booked their tickets to the knockout stages.

LAST 16
With both teams topping their groups, Bayern were drawn against Group B runners-up Arsenal while Dortmund landed an encounter against Group E’s second placed Shakhtar Donetsk in the knockout phases.

Dortmund travelled to Ukraine for their first leg match and left with two valuable away goals in a 2-2 draw while Bayern travelled to London and battered the Gunners 3-1, putting both teams in a perfect position to advance to the quarterfinals.

However, while Dortmund had easy time beating Shakhtar 3-0 in the return leg, Bayern just about squeezed through after they collapsed 2-0 against Arsenal but still advanced on away goals.

Quarter-finals
The first legs were played on 2 and 3 April, and the second legs were played on 9 and 10 April 2013. Dortmund drew Spanish side Malaga who hosted the first leg that ended on a barren draw while Bayern Munich scored through David Alaba and Thomas Muller to take a first leg win of 2-0 to Turin a week later. Lewandowski, Reus and Santana scored for Dortmund as they edged out Malaga 3-2 in the return leg. Bayern finished the Italian job with yet another 2-0 win over Juventus to advance 4-0.

Semi-finals
There was a possibility the two German teams could clash in the semi finals but they got separated and instead they both landed Spanish opposition. Dortmund were paired against group opponents Real Madrid while Bayern landed Barcelona.

Bayern were the first to play their match and blew the Blaugrana aside with a 4-0 win, Muller (twice), Gomez and Robben all on target. Dortmund almost replicated the same scoreline, only that they conceded a Cristiano Ronaldo goal but Lewandowski netted all the four goals putting the German teams in the driver seat.

The second leg saw Bayern finish Barca with a 3-0 humbling while Dortmund fended off late pressure from Real Madrid and advanced 4-3 on aggregate after losing the second leg 2-0.

Final
And so comes the final which will be played on 25 May 2013 at Wembley Stadium in London, England. May the better team win.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!