2013 UEFA Champions League Final Introduction:
This Saturday, May 25, 2013, the soccer world will turn its attention to the battle of Germany happening in London’s Wembley Stadium. The game is being played there to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the English Football Association’s (FA) existence. This is the 58th installment of the UEFA Champions League final.
The “David versus Goliath” match up squares off the small market, underdog Borussia Dortmund side against the wealthy and forceful establishment of German Bundesliga football, Bayern Munich. In a gesture of goodwill, Bayern ironically gave Dortmund an interest free loan in 2004 to pay off its debts. Years later Dortmund rose through the Bundesliga, culminating in league championships in 2010 and 2011.
Bayern has dominated the Bundesliga for the last 40 years and was able to shrug off the young upstarts by decisively winning the title in 2013. Adding to the drama is the case of Mario Gotze. The Dortmund star and creative midfielder signed with Bayern recently and will switch teams in July. He is not playing in the game due to an injury. Conspiracy theories have been running rampant. The two coaches have also been barking at each other for a while. Now the two sides meet outside of the Bundesliga to decide who is the best team in Europe. Let the showdown begin!
Borussia Dortmund Players to Watch:
Lewandowski – The star forward scored an eye-popping 4 goals against Real Madrid in the semi-final. His ability to get powerful shots off from inside and outside the box make him a game changer. A big performance by Lewandowski is Dortmund’s best hope for a title.
Reus – The consistent midfielder can set up Lewandowski or score himself. He is a major threat on counter attacks. He will need to play well with Gotze sidelined.
Hummels – The talented defender will have to coordinate the back line against an onslaught of offense.
Weidenfeller – The underrated goalkeeper will need to have a big day to shut down the fire power of Bayern Munich.
Bayern Munich Players to Watch:
Neuer – The imposing German national team goalie has been superhuman this year. He has shut down top offenses in Germany and Champions League, including mighty Barcelona.
Muller – This top notch attacking midfielder played great on the big stage of the 2010 World Cup. Although he is not especially flashy, Muller puts the ball in the back of the net. He gets in the right place at the right time and scores with kicks, deflections, or headers.
Robben – The crafty left-footed Dutchman is a risk/ reward player. Sometimes he scores big goals. Sometimes he is too selfish. The veteran midfielder has been playing well of late and will likely get some good chances.
Ribery – The fiery Frenchman also attacks the goal with vigor. He adds goal scoring, speed and power to the left hand side.
Mandzukic – The big, powerful striker will be putting pressure on Weidenfeller and the Dortmund defense.
Bayern’s Defense – Alaba, Dante, Boateng, and Lahm. This group of defenders has been the best in Europe, hands down. They stifle offenses and do not even really let teams get into the box for opportunities. A good day by this back line could make for a blowout.
2013 UEFA Champions League Final Preview Concluding Thoughts:
Dortmund has a young, talented team that has the potential to beat Bayern Munich. However this might only happen a few times if the teams played say 10 times in the final. Bayern is a juggernaut loaded with talent and chemistry everywhere on the field. This Bayern squad is one of the best teams of the past 20 years and it will be tough to stop. It will be Bayern’s third appearance in the final in the last four years. They need to redeem themselves and bring home a title. Yet that is what makes Dortmund so dangerous. No one expected Dortmund to get this far. The team is playing loose and free with house money. They have a chance to upstage their rivals on Europe’s biggest stage. It should be fun.
Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Kickoff: 11:45 Pacific Time USA/ 2:45 Eastern Time USA