In the dialect of Bavaria, Bayern Munich are "Dahoam". It means 'at home', but at home in a comfortable, dog sleeping by the fire way. Tonight, the dressing room at the Allianz Arena will be the same: white walls, slate grey floor, pictures of Bayern's squad above each locker. The walk to the pitch will be the one that Jupp Heynckes's side has made every fortnight. They will have stayed in the same hotel and made the same walk to the lake in its grounds. And yet the pressure will be different. It will not be a comfortable night.
This is the moment for which Bayern Munich have waited two years. When the venue for the 2012 European Cup final was announced, the club's chairman, Uli Hoeness, made a speech saying this was an opportunity Bayern could not pass up. It led directly to the sacking of Louis van Gaal, the man who led them to the European Cup final in Madrid two years ago, when it appeared they might not qualify for this season's competition.
The red-and-white banners of Bayern are everywhere and Heynckes said he would take the squad in the team bus through the streets of Munich, so they could see for themselves just what this match means to the city and beyond.
For Philipp Lahm, Heynckes's captain, it would feel like Henry V moving through the campfires of his troops before Agincourt. "Yes, we are Dahoam," he said. "I was born in Munich, I grew up here and I joined the club at the age of 11. When we last had a Champions League final in Munich, I was a ball-boy. We are tense, naturally, but being here gives you a sense of security. We will have our usual walk down Maximilianstrasse and go to the lake and chill out."
And yet for the team they call "FC Hollywood", the lights have flickered. When the Bundesliga stopped for its winter break, Bayern Munich were comfortably in front. They reached the German Cup final and, after an exhausting struggle with Real Madrid, won through to their own final on penalties.
The treble was on, just as it had been for Bayer Leverkusen a decade ago. Leverkusen ended the season with nothing and after losing both the Bundesliga and the German Cup final to Borussia Dortmund – a club whom Bayern loaned money to keep afloat a few years back – this is the last throw of what seemed golden dice.
Heynckes is 67 and has the air of a German Bobby Robson, in stark contrast to the aloof, arrogant Van Gaal. "Bayern Munich have not won the Champions League for 11 years and we may never have the opportunity to win it in our stadium again," he said. "I want them to drive through the city in the team bus because in two years this team may have broken up. This is their time."
They had, frankly, expected to face Barcelona in the final; that it is Chelsea comes with a sense of relief, bar the fact that in 1982 and 1999 Bayern lost to English opposition in European Cup finals they were expected to win. "Nothing turns out to plan," said Heynckes, who endured the curious experience of being sacked by Real Madrid after winning the European Cup in 1998.
"I don't actually consider it unjust because I was told in December I was going at the end of the season," he said. "But it shows you how football can turn. When we played Madrid in the semi-final, I told the players that we should be ice-cold and patient because everyone in Spain was expecting an El Clasico final between Madrid and Barcelona."
It is possible that like Heynckes and Avram Grant in 2008, a European Cup final may be Roberto Di Matteo's last game in charge. "I am not Chelsea's owner but I can't see why they would want anyone else," said Heynckes. "He has brought Chelsea all the way to the final. Step by step he was able to recreate contact with his players and you must keep talking to your footballers. You can feel that harmony in the way they have played and, if I were Roman Abramovich, I would give this young man a chance."Reuse content