Monday, May 27, 2013

Redemption and Champions League Title for Bayern Munich

"Saturday's match set record ratings on German TV, with 21.61 million viewers, a 62 percent share. Viewership for the all-German final dwarfed the previous record, set last year, when 17 million Germans watched Bayern go down in a penalty shoot out at home in Munich to eventual champions Chelsea. Globally, the Champions League final was forecast to draw close to 200 million viewers, making it the most-watched live annual sporting event, bigger even than the Super Bowl."
Fox Soccer:
Arjen Robben says his winning goal in the Champions League final for Bayern Munich against Borussia Dortmund has avenged past heartbreak in his career.

The 29-year-old had lost two previous European finals, missing a penalty in last year's Champions League final defeat by his former club Chelsea. The Netherlands international was also on the losing side when Spain won the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa. He has one of the most predictable – yet deadly – moves in the game, but that touch seems to desert him at the tensest moments. For all his talent, he’s long been labeled a “bottler,” soccer-speak for what Americans call a choke-artist.

That all should change after Saturday night. Robben, betraying no sign of anything but confidence, set up the first goal, then won the UEFA Champions League title for Bayern Munich 2-1 against Borussia Dortmund late in the second half.

Bayern took the lead in the all-German final when Robben pulled the ball back from the byeline for striker Mario Mandzukic to tap in from close range. Dortmund equalised when Ilkay Gundogan scored from the penalty spot after Dante fouled Marco Reus before Robben's 89th-minute decider. With a sublime bit of skill, Robben danced around Neven Subotic, Mats Hummels and Roman Weidenfeller with a minute remaining to score the match winner.

As he peeled off to the far corner, he left a dejected pile of Dortmund men in yellow. Eyes blazing and his head tilted back, he faced some of his fiercest critics – the Bayern end – and shouted. The glory was his.

"This means a lot. I still have not grasped it," Robben said. "There are so many emotions. It was very even. They had chances. We had chances. Then the last minute, I was quicker to the ball. I missed two chances before that, but I stayed calm. This was the third time in four years we've been in the final but, at least, now we are in the history books."

Robben was the hero of a classic match, better than we had any right to wish. It was enthralling, as both sides played powerful possession soccer, and declined to play the cynical waiting game that so often infects major finals. It was open, with both keepers making critical saves. The few mistakes committed were left witheringly unpunished though. For once, we had a final that lived up to the billing.

Saturday night’s tempo was furious, the result of a decision made from the whistle by Dortmund to play a high, pressing game. Dortmund typically plays a high line, but in their previous meetings this season against Bayern had played a countering game preferring to hang back and pounce on mistakes. It hadn’t worked well, as Dortmund went winless in their last four games against their archrivals, and manager Jurgen Klopp ditched it.

Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes admitted afterwards the tag of being favorites was behind his side's poor start and that he "made some corrections" at half-time. The 68-year-old will leave the club at the end of the season to be replaced by former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola but he could finish off with the Treble.

Bayern contest the German Cup on June 1 against VfB Stuttgart, aiming to become the first German club to complete the Treble.

In the 2012–13 season, FC Bayern became the first team in history to win their first eight matches in the Bundesliga after their 5–0 away win to Fortuna Düsseldorf. In April, Bayern won the 2012–13 Bundesliga after a 1–0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt with six games left, setting a new record for being the earliest ever Bundesliga winners. Other Bundesliga records set by Bayern include most points in a season (91), highest league winning points margin (25), most wins in a season (29) and fewest goals conceded in a season (18). Bayern also equaled the record for fewest defeats in a season, losing once to Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

More information:
» Robert Lewandowski to transfer to Bayern
» Mario Gotze is highest-paid German with $48 million deal

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