It was Bayern who denied the Germans victory in the Champions League final, not Chelsea
The only danger, they said, was that Bayern would underestimate Chelsea. That they would dismiss a little too freely the London team’s defensive capabilities, and not create enough chances to secure their dream victory. In the end, though, it was not Chelsea who denied Bayern the European Cup. It was Bayern themselves. A season of self inflicted wounds concluded in the most painful manner on Saturday, to crown this Bayern team as “FC Runners-Up Munich”.
While Chelsea are to be lauded for winning the tournament against all the odds, it would be wrong to say that they tactically stifled Bayern as they did Barcelona. While Didier Drogba undoubtedly knows how to pick his moment, it would be misguided to suggest that he battered Bayern for two hours as some suggested he would.
Chelsea’s defence was left exposed on enough occasions to allow a team as prolific as Bayern to wrap up the game in 90 minutes, let alone 120. When it came to the highest of high pressure situations, though, Bayern’s stars showed what separates them from the Bavarian heroes of old. They choked, missed their chances, and saw their dream explode in front of their very eyes.
Indeed, it will be a bitter consolation, but this game did serve to dispel some of the tired old clichés about German football and German club sides. After an inefficient, mentally lacking Bayern Munich side lost their grip on success in a penalty shootout, perhaps we will hear a little less of what Ray Wilkins knows about the Germans in next year’s Champions League coverage.
If their performance was un-German, however, Bayern’s defeat was felt throughout Germany. With Chelsea the antithesis of financial equality, and nearly half of Bayern’s squad later to represent Germany in the Ukraine, this was to be a crucial game in a summer of self publicity for German football. A win which would set the precedent for victory at Euro 2012 and beckon in a new golden era.
Instead, it was a disaster. Bild, only hours after the game, expressed their solidarity with a distraught Basti Schweinsteiger with the headline “We’re crying with you, Basti!”, while sport magazine “kicker” simply labelled it a “Fiasko dahoam”. Even Germany coach Joachim Loew joined in the chorus of disappointment, stating that “we are all very sad”.
For some, it was simply destiny. When Thomas Mueller put Bayern ahead, the SAT1 camera panned up to watch Roman Abramovich, and the commentator, Christoph Fuss, couldn’t resist: “Ah, Mr Billionaire,” he said, “you can’t buy success.”
Cue Didier Drogba. As the Tagesspiegel pointed out, Fuss should not have tempted fate so precociously: “The anger of the football Gods know no bounds, and they showed their capacity to let the better team lose.”
Well indeed. Given the timing of Drogba’s equaliser it is worth noting that the football Gods not only have a sense of retribution, but also one of irony.
A bitter irony it was. It is perhaps even more ironic that on one of the few occasions when the whole of Germany was behind FC Bayern, they managed to lose a major final. Even if they didn’t believe in destiny or football Gods, those fans could surely have believed in that seemingly unshakeable certainty that Bayern will win important games.
After two years with not a single piece of silverware, however, that certainty is looking ever more fragile. The last 20 years have been the era of FC Hollywood. This Bayern side must be extremely careful not to go down in history as FC Runners-Up.Tagged in: bayern munich, Champions League, chelsea, football
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