Its 9.30am and i am convinced to say that i have the misfortune of probably missing this epic Champions League finals of the ages. Why? This is solely due to my current location in Midwest, United States of America; Chicago precisely attending a close friend’s wedding. The coverage of the final is very limited here, its almost like looking for a neddle in a hay stack and i am not happy at all. I can just imagine the buzz in London and even in Lagos where i know UCL sponsors like Heineken and MasterCard would have rolled out different events to celebrate the first all German Final.
To the game itself, what a fantastic prospect awaits us in this clash of Germany’s two biggest powerhouses; a lot has being made about the revolution going on in German football; recommercialization, redeveloped stadia, rejuvenation of its youth and grass roots policies and an overall rethink of the German approach of playing football from the strength, brawn and hard core efficiency that Germans are known for, to the development of some of the most technically and tactically gifted players in the world today. All these has changed the direction of German football totally across all levels of the national team and the clubs as a whole. The overall beneficiary is Joachim Low,as he has a very impressive pool to select from; to ensure Germany finally banishes its disappointments in major finals and semi finals.
Also a lot has being made about the announcement of the transfer of Dortmund playmaker Mario Gotze to Bayern Munich, months before the end of the season. Unfortunately, he would have no part to play in this final, but I expect the following points to guide us to great conclusion to a fantastic season.
1. The Managers: Juup Heynckes may be on his last legs as manager of the great Bavarians, however he wants to go off into the sunshine of potential retirement by given his successor a huge mountain to climb; in other words winning Bayern Munich’s first ever treble will ensure Jupp Heynckes name is forever enshrined in Bayern Munich folklore and finally seal his legacy as a great manager, it is also an oppotunity to be the 19th manager to win Old Big ears twice. For Jurgen Kloop, he is the supposedly the new kid on the block, seeking to enhance his reputation on the European Landscape and building his own dynasty whilst returning a once bankrupt Dortmund back to the European map after back to back league titles. Dortmund’s progress this season in Europe has being quite impressing with their brand of attacking pressing play, it would be interesting to see how both managers approach the match.
2. Key Battles: This game would whip up a number of interesting battles on the pitch; first of all will be the battle in midfield between Ilkay Gundogan and Bastian Schweinsteiger; ideally a crucial battle as it may determine who may be able to cease the initiative especially in the early stages of the match. Gundogan would seek to stop Schweinsteiger from controlling the game and enable Bayern to build from the back, but then Schweinsteiger has the support of Javier Martinez to ease him into the game, but expect Dortmund to take the early initiative and later settle down into their counter attacking pressing game. Kevin Grosskruetz and Phillip Lahm on the left hand side of midfield; Grosskruetz is expected to fill in for Mario Gotze and then deployed to the left; it would be interesting to see how he gets the better of Lahm going forward and how he is able to track Lahm when he comes forward supporting Schmelzer in defending the double threat of Robben and Lahm. Grosskruetz being deployed to the left would enable Marco Reus play in the middle and link well with Robert Lewandoski.
3. 4-2-3-1 vs 4-3-3/4-5-1: Juup Heynckes has upgraded the works of Louis Van Gaal on this Bayern side. The side has become more balanced especially with the signings of Manduzic, Dante and Martinez; they’ve obviously got the better players and of course a better head to head this season, although in the last 9games between both teams; Dortmund have a better record. Jurgen Kloop is able to adapt and review is tactics as the game progresses. It is expected that with the inability of Mario Gotze, Kloop may change to a 4-3-3 to accomodate Grosskruetz to deploy Reus out wide; but this affects their counter attacking link up play and pressing game;hence whilst he may opt for the 4-5-1 to accomodate the changes and enable them counter Bayern’s 4-2-3-1.
4. 3rd times a charm or 3rd time unlucky: Bayern will appear in their third final in four years, although they’ve lost in two finals. In 2010, they were well beaten by Jose’s Inter and last year lost at home on Penalities to Chelsea; will they be 3rd time lucky or unlucky. What is inevitable is Germany will have its 7th winner of the UCL in the 58th edition. Dortmund appear in the finals for the first time since 1997 and would play with enormous pride and determination.
5. Verdict: Even though Bayern have the better players; my gut feeling tells me this will be Dortmund’s year as Bayern have shown they crack under pressure.
Result: Dortmund to win 2-1.