Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund: Predictions for Champions League Final
Bayern Munich are set to take on fellow German giants Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium on May 25 for the 2013 UEFA Champions League final.
Bayern stormed their way into the final this year after a staggering 7-0 aggregate win over Barcelona in the semifinals—the highest ever in the semifinals of the competition.
Dortmund also beat a strong Spanish opponent, Real Madrid, 4-3 on aggregate after a dominant 4-1 victory in the first leg.
The win marks the first time in the history of the Champions League or European Cup that two German teams will contest the final. But after watching their stellar play throughout the entire season, there's little doubting that these are the right two teams to be competing for the prestigious title in 2013.
Which German giant will end up clinching the Champions League title this year?
Read on to see three key predictions for the final on May 25.
Prediction No. 1—This Will Be a Low-Scoring Affair
Despite the attacking talent existent on both teams this year, expect the final to remain relatively low-scoring with neither team wanting to fall behind in this one.
As we saw last season in the Champions League, finals can often be a close affair early. And given the defensive solidity of both teams present this year, it seems fairly safe to suggest that goals will be hard to come by in the first half.
When they met earlier in the Bundesliga this year, the scores were locked at 0-0 until the 67th minute when Toni Kroos broke the deadlock for Bayern Munich.
The last three matchups between these teams have seen four goals in total—all coming in the second half. I wouldn't be surprised to see a similar defensive focus again in this one with neither team wanting to give easy opportunities to their opponents.
After all, the final only needs one goal to declare a champion.
Prediction No. 2—Ilkay Gundogan vs. Javi Martinez Will be the Key Matchup
As evident across both legs, Ilkay Gundogan and Javi Martinez were incredibly important to the success of their respective clubs.
And they will likely hold a similar importance in the final here.
Both midfielders have the ability to shut down an opponent's attack and not allow them to get set. And in a game that is shaping up as a defensive battle more than anything, this could very well give the respective players even more significance on the night.
Gundogan perhaps throws himself forward more of the two, meaning that we could see a direct matchup at times on the night.
That's not to say that Martinez isn't helpful in attack. But his presence is best seen in his organization, discipline in running Bayern's midfield and not allowing their defensive structure to be broken down by their opposition's attack.
Whichever player can assert himself the earliest here and establish control in the middle will go a long way to winning this game. They will give their team an upper hand in the middle.
And, over 90 minutes, that could well see them nab a goal at the other end and take a huge advantage on the night.
Prediction No. 3—Experience Will Trump Youth on the Night
Both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have a number of young exciting talents who will no doubt leave a huge mark on world football over the next few years.
Names like Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Thomas Muller have all shown themselves to be world-class players despite their age and relative lack of experience.
And they will no doubt play a huge role in the final.
However, it will be the experienced names that will be the key factor for both teams this year they struggle to adjust to the pressure of a big final.
Both Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben have been to the Champions League final before and will know what is required here. The pair have been superb on their respective flanks for Bayern this year and will no doubt bring their usual guile and trickery to Wembley.
The same, however, will also ring true for some of Dortmund's more senior players—particularly those in defense like Roman Weidenfeller and Lukasz Piszczek.
That duo have been very strong in their respective roles this year and will prove a handful for Bayern to get past on the night.
Youth might be the topic of discussion given the array of talent on display, but it will be experience that triumphs on the night. Just which team's experienced players have the greatest impact, however, still remains to be seen.
Final Prediction—Borussia Dortmund Win, 1-0 Normal Time
There will no doubt be plenty of breakdown and analysis over the next few weeks, and plenty of scorelines thrown around, but I'm sticking with Borussia Dortmund here to "upset" Bayern Munich.
I know this result might seem a little crazy after watching Bayern completely demolish Barcelona.
Bayern Munich is a 76.6% favorite over Borussia Dortmund, according to ESPN's Soccer Power Index.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) May 1, 2013
Bayern are a sound team that offer no room for success against their opponents, yet Dortmund have managed to have great success throughout recent years.
Jurgen Klopp's side possess great attacking talent and have shown the capability to break through Bayern's gritty defense and keep the Bavarians at bay when they try thrive on the counterattack.
Jupp Heynckes' team might have momentum at the moment, but that will stop in Wembley.
A late goal to Lewandowski will be the difference once more.
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