Bayern Munich: The Road To the UEFA Champions League Final
In the group stage, Bayern was drawn into Group A with Juventus (Italy), Bordeaux (France), and Maccabi Haifa (Israel). The Reds were labeled the favorites of the group, but an underrated Bordeaux side had plans to rain on their and Juventus’ parade.
Bayern Munich started the group stage with a 3-0 road victory in Israel against Maccabi Haifa. This gave Bayern the three necessary points to top the group early on.
In the second fixture, Bayern Munich hosted Juventus to a 0-0 draw.
Following a 2-1 defeat in Matchday 3 in France against Bordeaux, Bayern found itself in third place in the group halfway through the stage. (Bordeaux 7, Juventus 5, Bayern 4, Maccabi Haifa 0).
Matchday 4 was no better for the Bavarians, as Bordeaux once again handled the German side. This time 2-0 in Allianz Arena. Bayern looked to be all but eliminated at this point, as they found themselves in a deep hole with two matchdays remaining. (Bordeaux 10, Juventus 8, Bayern 4)
Matchday 5 brought some hope back into Bayern’s Champions League hopes. They disposed of group dwellers Maccabi Haifa 1-0, while also getting help from French side Bordeaux, who took down Juventus 2-0. (Bordeaux 13,Juventus 8, Bayern 7)
In the final matchday, Bayern knew only a win in Turin against Juventus would see them through to the knockout stages of this prestigious tournament. And despite the odds being against them, the Bavarians , after trailing 1-0 in the first half, spurted to four unanswered goals and pulled off the upset to eliminate Juventus and keep their European dreams alive. (Bordeaux 16, Bayern 10 , Juventus 8)
In the knockout stage, Bayern drew a tough Fiorentina side that pushed them to the limit in the Round of 16. In the first leg, Bayern was rather fortunate to grab a 2-1 victory at Allianz Arena. Miroslav Klose was at the center of controversy after entering the match. He could have easily been sent off after a clumsy reckless tackle, and he goes on to score the match winning goal from an apparent offside position.
In the second leg in Florence, Bayern had their hands full once again. But a persistent German side would not shy away from the challenge. After deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 that would have put them out of competition, Bayern Munich retaliated with three unanswered goals, the vital final strike coming from winger Arjen Robben in breathtaking fashion. Robben’s laser put Munich through on away goals.
In the Quarterfinals, Bayern Munich was dealt the task of squaring off against a confident and in form Manchester United side. The English giants got a crucial away goal early in the first leg from striker Wayne Rooney, but a Ribery equalizer and an Olic stoppage time strike gave Bayern the 2-1 result. In the second leg at Old Trafford, things couldn’t have started any worse for the Germans. Manchester United jolted to a 3-0 lead and aspirations of advancing once again looked slim for Bayern. But all wasn’t lost for the Bavarians when Croatian striker Ivica Olic continued his quarterfinal success by netting Bayern a big away goal before the half. This meant that Bayern only needed to outscore Man United in the second half to advance, and that’s exactly what the persistent German club did. In the 74th minute, Dutch winger Arjen Robben was once again the hero and once again his masterful strike came in highlight-reel fashion. This put Bayern through to the semifinals 4-4 on the aggregate on the away goals tiebreaker.
Munich’s semifinal opponents Lyon didn’t give the Germans the same type battle that Fiorentina and Manchester United did. In fact Bayern handled the French club rather routinely, winning both legs. Bayern took the home leg 1-0 behind the boot Dutch hero Arjen Robben and the away and deciding leg 3-0 behind hat trick hero Ivica Olic. The semifinals did have a negative for the German side though; a reckless tackle by Franck Ribery that lead to an expulsion and suspension that has prevented the Frenchman from participating in the rest of the competition.
Approaching the Final against Inter, Dutch manager Louis van Gaal has been dealt the blow of being without the services of the suspended Franck Ribery. Ribery is one of Bayern’s most crucial players on the pitch. His absence will certainly affect the Bayern attack, but Bayern has done well to overcome multiple obstacles throughout the competition, so you can be sure they wont lack any confidence heading into the clash in Madrid.
The key for this German side throughout the group and especially the knockout stages was their ability to score on the road. The critical away goals were plentiful and all necessary in leading the Bavarians to Madrid.
Bayern Munich clearly hasn’t had the smoothest run to the UEFA Champions League Final, but this German side has proven to be as relentless as they come. From their fight back in the group stage, to their away leg heroics in the Round of 16 and the Quarters, Bayern Munich has developed a never-say-die attitude and rode it to the Final where they will do battle with a strong Internazionale side to decide Europe’s finest club of the season.
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