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Champions League Final Preview

Bayern Munich versus Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League Final. How many punters saw that coming at the start of the season? How many wanted to see it?

Yet now it’s upon us, even the English football fans, so disappointed to see our boys drop out even before the quarter-final stage, are licking their lips in anticipation of an all-German Wembley classic.

Bayern are 4-5 with Coral with Dortmund at 100-30, but this is a much tighter affair on paper than the recent Man City-Wigan F.A. Cup Final was supposed to be and we all know what happened there. This could well go the full distance and 13/5 the draw makes some appeal.

We had better get used to this German dominance. It might be only five years since Man United and Chelsea played out an all-English final in Moscow, but the writing was already on the wall for the Premier League’s finest before this season’s total blow-out.

But surely we had many years more of the Spanish putting everyone to the sword. Surely Barcelona and Real Madrid would continue to intimidate and dominate Europe, especially brilliant Barcelona with Messi, Iniesta et al.

No. On successive midweek nights last month, the old order was swept away as first Bayern Munich demolished Barca 4-0 and then Borussia Dortmund battered Madrid 4-1. Bayern rubbed it in back at the Nou Camp to complete an astonishing 7-0 aggregate win and Dortmund just did enough at the Bernebau to set up this unlikely showdown.

Quite simply, these two extremely well-run German clubs worked out ways to beat their supposedly superior opponents; Bayern in particular supremely effective in stifling Barca’s inventive midfield and then counter-attacking at breathtaking speed and to devastating effect.

World Cup flops had prompted the German national team to take a hard look at itself and start again and we can also see the improvements in structure and youth development paying off at club level. The two Spanish giants have too much about them to slip too far behind for too long and the English clubs will probably buy their way back into contention. But make no mistake; the Germans are here to stay at the top table.

It should be a great sight at Wembley; two sets of noisy and passionate fans trying to out-dress and out-sing each other. And there will be no love lost between the fans or the players, certainly not after Mario Gotze’s recently announced £31.5m transfer from Dortmund to Bayern – we saw a taste of what might be to come in an ill-tempered draw between the teams recently.

Gotze is 9-1 with Coral to score the first goal on Saturday and, who knows, that might even be the winner against the club he will be joining after the game. It’s a weird scenario alright, but when it comes to the Champions League, these are strange times.

Written by Jon Freeman