Bayern Munich’s road to Champions League final
The mighty ‘Bavarians’ are up against ‘The Blues’ from London for the ultimate European glory for any club, The UEFA Champions League title.
If the ‘German Giants’ were the dark horses to reach the final to be played in their own backyard, The Allianz Arena; the Pundits had not given the Premier League side even an outside chance to compete for the silverware.
Yet, they would face off, on May the 19th. Bayern Munich for the pride of winning at home and ending a season of near misses with grandeur as Chelsea would aim to cap off a turmoil ridden season with a piece of history and with reverence.
Let`s take a look at Bayern Munich’s journey to the Allianz Arena, their road to the UEFA Champions League final.
Drawn in the ‘group of death’ alongside Manchester City, Napoli and Villarreal, the 4-time European champions topped the group charts. They started off their campaign with an easy 2-0 victory over Villarreal. Then they beat the hot favourites Manchester City in a closely fought match 2-0. Star player Mario Gomez scored both the goals in the second half. In Italy, ‘Die Roten’ were held to a 1-1 draw by the tricky Napoli. But during the return leg, in a heated fixture where both teams finished with 10-men, Mario Gomez struck a hat trick before Federico Fernandez got two back for the `Partenopei`. Bayern though held on to the slender lead winning 3-2. With a 3-1 victory over Villarreal at the Allianz Arena Bayern booked their spot for the next round and 2-0 defeat at the hands of City did not hamper their top spot in the group.
Round of 16
At St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Munich got a rude awakening as the surprise package of the tournament. FC Basel inspired a victory against their more fancied opponents at home courtesy a late winner from Valentin Stocker. The Swiss Champions, `RotBlau` took a 1-0 advantage in the first leg going into Germany. But, at the Allianz, `Die Bayern` showed their supreme class and their ferocious striking power as the hosts netted 7 goals past a hapless Basel defence. Mario Gomes netted the ball 4 times as Dutchman Robben bagged two with Thomas Muller scoring one. With a massive 7-1 aggregate, Bayern Munich advanced to the quarters to face off against French side Marseille.
Riding on the individual brilliance of winger Arjen Robben, Munich sealed the tie away from home against Marseille 2-0 as the Dutch star accounted for both the goals -- he first set up Gomez and then put his name in the score sheet with the second goal. Marseille struggled in the second leg as well and their chances of making a comeback were laid to rest by a 13th minute strike by Ivica Olic for Munich. Ivica Olic scored again in the first half and thus the `German Giants` set up a date with ` Los Blancos` Real Madrid in the semi-finals.
Coming into the match, Munich had topped their group, had routed FC Basel 7-1, dispatched Marseille 4-0 and yet the `Die Roten` were the overwhelming underdogs against the all- conquering Jose Mourinho`s galaxy of stars. At the Allianz Arena, the French playmaker Frank Ribery rose to the occasion and with a sublime bit of play gave the hosts an early lead. German international Mesut Ozil pulled Madrid level just before half time. The attacking prowess of Real Madrid put persistent pressure on the Munich defence but Philipp Lahm and Holger Badstuber defended admirably before Mario Gomez`s last gasp winner made it 2-1 in favour of the hosts and gave Munich the very crucial advantage.
In the second leg, at the Santiago Bernabau, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace to put Madrid in a commanding position, but Robben converted a spot kick to level the match. After the regular time, the game went into extra time but the deadlock remained. Penalty shoot out would determine the team going into the final. Cristiano Ronaldo`s and Kaka`s strikes were saved by Manuel Neuer as Alaba and Gomez converted for the visitors. Philip Lahm then missed one along with Kroos. Xabi Alonso scored but Sergio Ramos got ‘brain-freeze’ as he planted the spot kick into the orbit. Sebastian Schweinsteiger then scored to take his team to the Champions League final at the Allianz Arena