The stage is set for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich to battle it out for the prestigious Champions League trophy in the competition’s first ever all-German final.
The two clubs will take to the Wembley Stadium pitch on Saturday evening in a clash immersed deep in rivalry and history, with both facing the chance to rewrite the record books.
For Bayern Munich, the wounds of five previous final defeats are still present – in fact, the wounds from the previous two occasions in which they were condemned to the runners-up spot, in 2010 and 2012, are still fresh in the minds of fans and players alike.
Should they lose out to their arch-rivals this weekend, Bayern will have finished second best in more Champions League finals than any other club – no doubt a firmly unwanted title.
They head into the Wembley clash as heavy favourites though, for a number of reasons: Their stunning 7-0 semi-final display against Spanish giants Barcelona set the record for the largest aggregate winning-margin in that stage of the competition, while they also managed to keep clean sheets in their previous four Champions League matches.
Away from the competition, they stormed to the Bundesliga title ahead of second-place Dortmund, and remain on track for the treble – an unprecedented feat for a German club - with their domestic Cup final taking place on June, 1.
Dortmund are not to be dismissed, though, and will relish the chance of being labelled the underdog ahead of their second European Cup final, in which they’re hoping to keep their 100 per cent win record in-tact following victory in their only other final back in 1997.
While Dortmund have only netted 23 goals to Bayern’s 29 in this year’s competition so far, Jurgen Klopp’s men can boast the tournament’s second most prolific goal-scorer in Robert Lewandowski – who’s notched just two goals less than top-scorer Cristiano Ronaldo.
A big blow for the eight-time Bundesliga champions will be the absence of Mario Gotze, who ruled himself out of the final with a knee injury he sustained during the second leg of their semi-final with Real Madrid.
The 20-year-old local lad has been a key component of the club’s success in the tournament this season but would have cut a controversial figure in the final, which would have been his last game in a Dortmund shirt ahead of his big-money move to Bayern in the summer.
Even still, the match poses a certain amount of intrigue for the neutral, with the affair set to be a fiery contest between two arch-rivals on alien soil, with the added sentimentality of the clash being Jupp Heynckes last game in charge of the German giants before the Pep Guardiola revolution begins. No doubt he’ll be looking to go out with a bang.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 7.45pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
Borussia Dortmund 1 (Grobkreutz), Bayern Munich 1 (Gomez), Bundesliga, May 2013
Bayern Munich 1 (Robben, 43), Borussia Dortmund 0, German Cup, February 2013
Bayern Munich 1 (Kroos), Borussia Dortmund 1 (Gotze), Bundesliga, December 2012
* This will be Bayern Munich’s tenth final – a number of appearances only lower than Real Madrid and AC Milan. Bayern have won four times and lost five – the joint most any club has been the runner-up in this competition alongside Juventus and Benfica – including last year’s final, when they went out on penalties to Chelsea. Borussia Dortmund have only appeared in one final but were victorious.
* This Saturday’s clash will be the first time in history that two German clubs come up against each other in the Champions League final, and only the fourth time two clubs from the same country have battled it out for the trophy, with the three previous occasions occurring between Real Madrid and Valencia in 2000, AC Milan and Juventus in 2003 and Manchester and Chelsea in 2008.
* Bayern Munich’s stunning 7-0 aggregate victory over Barcelona in the semi-finals is the record winning-margin at that stage of the competition.
* Wembley will become the first stadium to host two Champions League finals in three years. Out of the five it has hosted over time, this will be its first involving a German club.
* Although Bayern have scored six goals more than Borussia Dortmund during the competition so far with 29 and 23 respectively, it’s the latter club who can boast the second-highest goal-scorer in this year’s tournament, with Robert Lewandowski netting 10 – just two behind top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo.
* Bayern Munich cruised through their knockout stages of the Champions League, not conceding a single goal in either of their quarter-final or semi-final legs, recording an 11-0 aggregate victory across the four matches. On the other hand, Dortmund have only managed to keep three clean sheets in their last 12 European games.
Bayern Munich to win: 1.8
Borussia Dortmund to win: 5.1
TV: Live on ITV1 and Sky Sports 1 at 7.45pm, highlights on Sky Sports 1 at 12.00pm.