The king is dead, long live the king... Bayern Munich savour Champions League victory over Barcelona
Bayern will meet fellow German side Borussia Dortmund in the final at Wembley
Friday 03 May 2013
Bliss quickly turned to focus for Bayern Munich as the German champions turned their attention to the Champions League final at Wembley on 25 May. Beating Barcelona 7-0 over two semi-final legs is a remarkable achievement but it will count for nothing if they do not overcome Borussia Dortmund in three weeks' time.
Merely reaching the final is nothing much for Bayern to celebrate any more. They finished as runners up in 2010 and in 2012 and that will not do for a club of Bayern's stature. They should have won it last year, facing an inferior Chelsea side at their own ground, but didn't, so this year they must.
"It's time to win it now," said Arjen Robben – who played in the 2010 and 2012 finals. There is certainly a mood in Munich that this team is now peaking and ready finally to win their fifth European Cup.
"Fussball is coming home", said the front page of today's Suddeutsche Zeitung, the local Bavarian newspaper. There is general delight across Germany about the fact that, for the first time in a European Cup final, there will be two German teams competing.
Die Welt said that the last two weeks gave Germany "a reason to be proud", with an editorial in the same paper proclaiming "the king is dead, long live the king," after Bayern's victory over Barça. However, Jupp Heynckes' side would certainly have to win at Wembley to be recognised as the next leading European team.
Heynckes hopes that recent experiences can help Bayern in the final. "You can learn a lot more from a defeat than a victory," he said after the 3-0 win at the Nou Camp that was just as impressive as the 4-0 win at the Allianz Arena. "We have the experience of last year to fuel us in this final and I obviously hope that we can be successful. I was very disappointed after the final last season. But the very next day we began planning the next season, planning the squad and speaking with the players."
This season's team is certainly better than last year's, as is shown by their runaway title win in the Bundesliga, and one of the main reasons is the addition of Javi Martinez. The powerful Spanish midfielder was signed from Athletic Bilbao for €40m (£33.5m) and now forms Europe's strongest midfield engine room along with Bastian Schweinsteiger.
"It doesn't feel too bad, reaching my third final in the space of a year," Martinez said, referring to the Europa League final, which Bilbao lost, the Euro 2012 final, which Spain won, and now this. Of course, another Spaniard – Pep Guardiola – is arriving in Munich this summer, along with a certain Mario Götze, too.
Before that, they will have to overcome Dortmund, who are still smarting from the loss of Götze to their rivals. Ahead of tomorrow's league fixture between the two clubs which will act as a dress rehearsal for Wembley, chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke admitted relations between the two clubs have cooled in recent weeks. "Why should we act as if everything is hunky-dory? There won't be any lunch with Bayern, just a handshake," he said.
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