Once, twice, three times a loser: Bayern Munich denied Champions League destiny

 

You did not have to speak German to understand the headline that confronted readers of Germany's biggest-selling newspaper. "Schock Nacht in München" was how Bild described how a crown had been stolen from a coronation.

When it was all over, the cameras lingered on the face of Uli Hoeness, Bayern's president. Two years ago, when it was announced that his club would stage the 2012 European Cup final, he had delivered what those present described as an "I have a dream" speech. Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of what appeared to be Bayern Munich's destiny. When it seemed Bayern might not even qualify for this season's competition, the manager Louis van Gaal was sacked and the older, more reliable figure of Jupp Heynckes was brought back in.

Hoeness drew a deep breath and was then embraced by his wife, Susanne. In the space of several weeks he had seen Bayern's season disintegrate. As the Bundesliga went into its winter break they had led, only to be overhauled by the team who have proved their recent nemesis, Borussia Dortmund. A few years ago Bayern loaned Dortmund money, so they could pay off huge debts.

Then came the disaster of the German Cup final, which Dortmund won 5-2.

This, however, was different. As the Allianz Arena was turned into a banner-waving rally, to the sound of the Bayern battle hymn, "Stern des Südens", it seemed Hoeness could not have asked for easier opponents. They had expected to face Barcelona – instead it was the Premier League's sixth-best team. Afterwards, Hoeness seemed incredulous.

"You cannot say it is OK to come second three times," he said. "I could accept it if we finished second once but not this." He pledged €60m (£48.5m) to start the rebuilding.

However, European Cups do not run to any concepts of destiny. In 1997 Alex Ferguson appeared convinced Manchester United would win the trophy because the final was in Munich, with all its terrible associations. Dortmund beat them in the semi-finals. "I don't know how long it will take me to recover," Ferguson said.

That night in Munich Philipp Lahm, Bayern's captain on Saturday, was a ball boy. This will cast a very long shadow over the club Lahm joined at the age of 11. There will be other finals but never again for this generation in their own stadium. They had lost the shoot-out from a 3-1 lead, in what was dubbed a "penalty thriller" by Bild.

On the day of the match Bayern published an open letter to "football fans across Germany". They promised to fulfil their dreams – instead the pledges lie ripped and discarded like the giant banner that proclaimed "Our City, Our Stadium, Our Cup". This, surely, was too much pressure. When Thomas Müller scored in Bloemfontein to humble England in the World Cup in 2010, his celebrations were ordinary. Here, after he scored, his face appeared contorted by both joy and relief, emotions that were to be snatched away.

In the 1990s, when the German game was at its most successful, Gary Lineker remarked that "football is a game that lasts 90 minutes and the Germans win". Not any more. Nationally and at club level, Germany presents young, attractive football that falls at the final hurdle.

Germany have finished third, second and third in successive World Cups and European Championships. This was Bayern's second loss in a European Cup final in three years. The Bundesliga was always the most attractive of the major leagues but it lacked money. A vast new deal from Sky, signed just before the final, ensured that you could taste the confidence.

As Bayern's fans, mostly young, mostly in remarkably good spirits, streamed back on to the U-Bahn that ran through the night – something unlikely to happen at Wembley next May – the stations still carried the club's adverts. A picture of Franck Ribéry, captioned "My Time Is Now". Their time came and now it is gone.

British cup winners

5: Liverpool 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005

3: Manchester United 1968, 1999, 2008

2: Nottingham Forest 1979, 1980

1: Aston Villa 1982; Celtic 1967; Chelsea 2012

Germans on the spot

* Bayern's failure in a penalty shoot-out was an extremely rare occurrence. The reunified national side have both of their shoot-outs, while Bayern won the 2001 Champions League from the spot. Before Saturday the main exception was West Germany's defeat against Czechoslovakia in the Euro '76 final.

Suggested Topics
Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup