Bayern Munich in last chance saloon against Chelsea
Uli Hoeneß, it emerged this week, has spent 53,000 Euros on a box in the Allianz Arena for the workers at his family’s Nuremberg Bratwurst factory. A perfectly constructed act of Bavarian gallantry spoiled only by the Bayern President’s later admission to regret at having spent so much money.
The regret will be far greater if his more notable employees, those at FC Bayern München, do not win on Saturday evening. The talk in the German media is of a Bayern side, if not in crisis, then most certainly in last chance saloon. Last Saturday saw them squander a second domestic trophy to Borussia Dortmund in a truly disastrous display of defensive coordination; a defeat which means that the game against Chelsea is, definitively, an all or nothing scenario for Bayern. If they lose, it will be the first time in nearly two decades that the club has gone successive seasons without winning a single piece of silverware.
This Final, however, has a wider significance than merely fulfilling their own uniquely high expectations of success. Even if Bayern already had a domestic double under their belt this season, it would be impossible to overestimate the importance of winning on Saturday. Now more than ever, Bayern are FC Uli Hoeneß, and this is the Uli Hoeneß Final.
He is perhaps one of the most divisive figures in European football. A man who has directed his often vicious tongue towards everyone from Christoph Daum to Roman Abramovich, from left wing politician Gregor Gysi to Victoria Beckham. A man who has, almost single handedly, created the modern FC Bayern.
“We’re playing the Final for FC Bayern Munich, but Uli Hoeneß made FC Bayern Munich”, said Bastian Schweinsteiger, “so I hope that on Saturday, he’s not sitting in the stands with a red face.”
Not only did Bayern make Uli Hoeneß but, in the last twenty years at least, Uli Hoeneß has made FC Bayern. In the case of the Allianz Arena, it was Hoeneß who planned and oversaw its construction. It was Hoeneß who allowed Munich to host the Final this year. And it is, primarily, Hoeneß’ dream to see his beloved club become the first to win the Champions League on home soil.
Despite his dreams, the Bayern President remains a realist. He gives his side only the slenderest of advantages going into the game, saying they have a 51% chance of winning to Chelsea’s 49. It is a modest assertion, given that many commentators in both England and Germany have named Bayern as strong favourites.
There is certainly a case to be made in that respect. Not only do Bayern have the extra incentive of being at home, they also have a stronger attacking line up, suspensions of a less significant nature, and a manager who has experience of winning the Champions League under immense pressure.
Jupp Heynckes knows Hoeneß better than most, in fact and has expressed doubts over his nerves at the business end of this year’s European journey. He does not doubt, moreover, that his employer will be living every moment of the Final as if he were on the pitch: “Uli is an emotional person, and is someone who can articulate his feelings. In any direction.”
Hoeneß has experienced enough finals in his footballing career, however, to know that, more often than not, it comes down to which team has more guts on the day. He is fully aware that Chelsea are perfectly capable of ruining the dream, and should they do so, then look out for Schweinsteiger’s prediction of a scarlet face when the camera pans up to the stands. If the dream is to be realised, however, it will be the perfect crowning of Uli Hoeneß’ truly remarkable involvement with FC Bayern München.Tagged in: Allianz Arena, bayern munich, Champions League, chelsea, football
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