The Calvin report: Stirring Champions League final shows how far English game must advance

No domestic teams could have sustained the pace or matched the invention

The Bayern Munich fans had smuggled their scarlet flares into the upper tiers at Wembley, and bellowed their theme tune, "Stern des Sudens", until they were hoarse. They sang of fire, life and love. European football has a compelling champion, and a fresh narrative to follow.

A final of fitting majesty, on a balmy evening, was an ideal setting for a coronation. For the massed ranks of the Borussia Dortmund fans, who stood at the end with their scarves raised above their heads in mute defiance, it felt like a funeral.

And so the wheel of history turned. Barcelona have succumbed to the built-in obsolescence which afflicts even the greatest teams. La Liga's position as football's finishing school has been assumed by the Bundesliga.

Germany came calling. A game of skill and spite, ebb and flow, will live long in the memory. It deserved the drama of its conclusion, and ended with Arjen Robben convulsed in tears of relief and vindication. His winner, 90 seconds from the end of normal time, provided an appropriate climax.

There were so many stirring examples to admire, so many lessons to absorb. When Bayern's adviser Paul Breitner, the Maoist class warrior who helped West Germany win the 1974 World Cup, spoke of the Premier League being in a state of "permanent regression", it was impossible to frame a convincing counter argument.

No domestic teams could have sustained the pace or matched the invention of a final that finally lived up to the hype. Dortmund counter-attacked with lacerating speed and intelligence; Bayern worked patiently and would have led handsomely by half-time but for Robben's temporary myopia.

He will be forgiven that profligacy. His ability to get behind the Borusssia Dortmund defence finally paid dividends on the hour, when he pulled the ball back for Mario Mandzukic to score one of the simplest goals of his career. The winner, after Ilkay Gundogan had equalised from the penalty spot, was exquisitely cruel, and commendably cool.

The English game will not move on until it acknowledges, and addresses, the fault lines of a system which permitted only 22 Academy products to make their Premier League debuts this season. That's seven fewer than the previous year, and exposes the revisionist nonsense that great strides are being made in youth development in the domestic game.

The teamsheets were statements of strategic intent. Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Müller are stellar products of Bayern's youth system. Marco Reus, a compelling presence, and Bayern-bound Mario Götze were nurtured at Dortmund, whose defender Mats Hummels, an immense presence on the night, was a boy at Bayern.

The winners lived up to the responsibility of representing the aristocracy of German football. A force in the Bundesliga for several generations, they have reached new heights in a season in which they have set no fewer than 29 separate records.

Their willingness to bully rivals, financially, was one of many intriguing sub-plots to a game which had elements of a coaching masterclass. The injured Götze, the embodiment of the divide between the finalists, required greater camouflage, as he sat in the stands, than a baseball cap, worn backwards. Dortmund's followers defaced his name, if it happened to be on the back of their shirts.

Dortmund, rescued from bankruptcy and reinvented as a people's club, had the vibrancy and optimism of the artless newcomer. Their fans provided the soundtrack to a stirring contest. They formed a sea of yellow, which lapped against the landmarks of the capital before sweeping, in a flood tide, across the east end of the Stadium. They sang incessantly to the co-ordinated rhythms of four drummers. It was authentic, and mesmerising.

They did not need plastic flags, the screeching inanities of Wembley's public address announcer, or the toe-curling pretensions of an opening ceremony in which Breitner bizarrely strode to the centre circle in a silver breastplate and full military uniform. The symbolic set-piece battle would have been an embarrassment had it been staged before 200 people on a village green, rather than in front of a TV audience in excess of 200 million.

Jürgen Klopp has the air of an urbane, but quietly subversive, university lecturer. He is the most compelling managerial presence since Jose Mourinho emerged, kicking and screaming, from his formative role as Barcelona's translator.

He threw his team at Bayern, and relished their audacity. Dortmund began assertively, pressing incessantly, and creating opportunities with their dynamism and width.

But, in the words of that Bayern song, the Song of the South: " No matter if it's the League, a Cup or Champions league, What can be more wonderful than a Bavarian victory?"

News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
News
people

Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Life and Style
fashion

News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news

Video: It is the type of thing no parent wants to hear

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game