|Final showdown: German rivals Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will go head-to-head|
Before I begin, I would like to apologise that the Europa League Final Review + Analysis post has not been published as of yet, but it will be published very soon as I have been busy over the last few days and unable to access my blog without being able to finish the post itself. What can I say, I don't like to publish things that are not fully done.
Meanwhile, main underdogs but dark horses Borussia Dortmund showed their class and teamwork to get to the final in a professional display, despite late drama, controversy and hard times throughout this season.
A masterclass show from Robert Lewandowski in particular in the first leg - scoring 4 goals against Real Madrid in style and a nervy 4-3 aggregate win at The Bernabeu puts Dortmund through against their German rivals Bayern at Wembley tonight.
We had French dominance, Italian, English, Spanish and now is it time for German dominance?
Here are the team line-ups for tonight's game:
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller, Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer, Bender, Gundogan, Blaszczykowski, Reus, Grosskreutz, Lewandowski.
Subs: Langerak, Kehl, Leitner, Sahin, Kirch, Schieber, Felipe Santana.
Bayern Munich: Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba, Javi Martinez, Schweinsteiger, Robben, Muller, Ribery, Mandzukic.
Subs: Starke, Van Buyten, Shaqiri, Pizarro, Gustavo, Gomez, Tymoschuk.
No controversial midfield playmaker Mario Gotze today for Dortmund, he is ruled out with a hamstring injury and there were already doubts whether he would play in the first place against his future club Bayern who he will move to in July of this year after they activated his release clause of £32million pounds.
|Controversy: Mario Gotze has been ruled out of the final due to a hamstring injury|
While for Bayern, Robben starts again in a CL final after having a nightmare last season against his former club Chelsea - missing a penalty and many chances to win the match for Bayern.
Mario Gomez is among the subs on the bench, as Mario Mandzukic is the lone striker up-front.
19:35 - 10 minutes until kick-off at Wembley!
19:45 - The epic match is about to start at Wembley, with an amazing atmosphere inside the stadium at the moment from both sides. Bayern are the favourites, but Dortmund like the term "underdog" as they always seem to play better with it.
Despite the fact Bayern won the Bundesliga title by 25 points this season, Dortmund have focused their energy on the Champions League - and it is evident in their team performances.
Robert Lewandowski and Marco Reus will be very important for Dortmund tonight, with both players having to communicate with each other up-front as Gotze is not playing and not dictating the pace and possession of play.
0: The referee has blown his whistle to a ferocious roar from both sets of the crowd. You can tell this match will not stay goal-less for long.
4: Both teams are not showing any signs of nervousness so far, with Bayern trying to settle in their own half before looking for space to run into with the ball.
Dortmund know they may have to play a patient game tonight, without much of the possession but need to be clinical with their chances on the counter attack.
6: Dortmund corner after Jerome Boateng heads clear from a set-piece. Schweinsteiger caused the free-kick after a clash of legs with Blaszcykowski from 30 yards out.
10: Dortmund always look dangerous on the counter attack, and they did again just now. Robben and Muller tried to make a quick interchange just outside the box, but the pass was intercepted by Subotic and cleared away to Reus who drove through into the middle of the pitch before finding Grosskreutz on the left wing, but his shot was over the bar and failed to trouble Neuer.
12: No real attempts at goal, in terms of being on target for either side so far.
13: Very close to a chance for Dortmund. Jerome Boateng stuck too tight to Robert Lewandowski who skinned him for pace before trying to whip a cross into the box, but he was closed down and he ended up letting the ball go out for a goal-kick.
14: CLOSE! Robert Lewandowski had a powerful driving shot from 25 yards out, but Manuel Neuer acrobatically tipped the ball over the bar for a Dortmund corner.
So far, so good for Dortmund but still 0-0.
15: CLOSE AGAIN! Blaszcykowski finished a nice piece of passing play between Reus and Gundogan with a turning shot on his right foot, but his effort was parried away out by Neuer who got down low to deny the Polish winger from breaking the deadlock.
|Improvise: Manuel Neuer prevents Blaszcykowski from scoring with an outstretched leg save|
17: Panic stations for Bayern... they are trying to keep possession now but they need to start making chances of their own as Neuer may not be able to save all of the shots fired at him by the pace and power of Dortmund tonight.
21: Manuel Neuer is the much busier of the two goalkeepers tonight, he has had to make 6 saves so far and only 20 minutes have been played.
Marco Reus and Sven Bender have both come close with counter attack strikes, and Bayern just can't seem to catch them on the break.
That's their special weapon - the counter attack.
Replays show Ribery elbowed the Polish striker in the face after a shoulder barge, but Lewandowski is eager to get the game restarted and does not argue with the referee and goes back to his forward role.
26: CHANCE! A great cross into the box is fed into the middle for Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic, who jumps highest to head the ball towards goal, but goalkeeper Weidenfeller (who has not had much to do so far) does well to get a touch to the ball and tip it over the bar. It hit the crossbar on the way, and Bayern will be eager to continue this momentum as they look for the first goal.
|Acrobatic: Weidenfeller parries the ball over the bar from Mandzukic's header.|
The first goal in this match is crucial - if Dortmund score the crowd will go wild, if Bayern score they may just dominate afterwards..
31: Bayern launch a counter attack of their own, with Muller feeding Robben the ball on the wing who runs into space before shaping to shoot, but Weidenfeller reacts quickly and parries the ball out for a corner.
|Quick reactions: Weidenfeller parries Robben's effort after Bayern went on the counter attack|
Robben is full of adrenaline, he is eager to take the corner and take advantage of this Bayern spell of pressing for the goal.
The balance of pressing has shifted slightly, with Bayern having a couple of good goal-scoring opportunities in the last few minutes.
34: CHANCE! Robert Lewandowski finds space to run into while being marginally onside, before beating Dante with pace before trying to chip Neuer, who parries the ball away to safety.
He may well get man of the match tonight Neuer, if it was not for him Dortmund would be in-front for sure.
40: Bayern are trying to dominate possession as they look for another opening, but Dortmund are tired of waiting patiently for a loose pass and are pressing them high up the pitch.
41: Marco Reus has a chance on the wing using his pace to get past Javi Martinez with ease but his shot is wayward and just past the post not troubling Neuer.
Manager Jurgen Klopp is trying to encourage his side to continue what they are doing, he likes them creating chances out of nothing.
42: CHANCE! Arjen Robben might just be having another one of those days... he was free inside the box one-on-one with the goalkeeper but he just lashed at the ball which hit Weidenfeller in the face and Dortmund clear again.
He could have easily scored one or two goals by now and this might just be a case of who can be the first to break the deadlock.
45: The referee signals for half-time at Wembley, with both sides walking down the tunnel with the scoreline still goal-less after 45 minutes of interesting and dramatic play.
Both goalkeepers (Neuer and Weidenfeller) have done well to deny the opposition from scoring so far, but there have been so many goal-scoring chances that you can just feel someone will score eventually - but you are not sure who..
20:46 - The second half has begun at Wembley, with 45 minutes to play and the scores still at 0-0.
54: Tempers are starting to flare for both teams after a few small fouls that have been over dramatized by team-mates and the players involved themselves.
55: Great defending by German centre-back Mats Hummels to shoulder barge and shield the ball away from French winger Franck Ribery just inside the box as the attack was looking dangerous. Applause all-round in the stadium.
56: The match is decreasing in terms of the excitement slightly, as the referee keeps stopping the game for minor tackles and fouls from both sides. These constant stoppages in play will suit Bayern more than Dortmund who want to keep momentum but need to get the ball back from Bayern every time they concede a free-kick.
59: GOAL! Bayern are rewarded with the first goal of the game just before the hour mark after some patient build-up play on the wing by Franck Ribery before he ran into space to feed Robben the ball inside the area.
Robben ran towards the line before having a shot parried behind the back of Weidenfeller, into space for Mandzukic to easily tap the ball into the net to break the deadlock.
And now the Bayern fans have gone wild! 1-0 and the match has exploded into life again.
63: The referee has stopped play again after Dortmund defender Neven Subotic barges into Franck Ribery sending him flying onto the ground clutching his face in apparent pain.
Subotic casually walks away from Ribery who slowly gets back up to his feet before getting back into position.
66: PENALTY! Sloppy Bayern defending by Jerome Boateng who leaves the wing exposed for Marco Reus to run into, and the ball bounces off the turf into mid-air. Dante tries to win the ball inside the penalty area with a high leg outstretched, but instead catches Reus in the ribs with a boot and the referee has no choice but to give a penalty.
Great chance for Dortmund to equalise... Lewandowski is not stepping up to take it, but German playmaker Ilkay Gundogan steps up to take it.
Gundogan vs Neuer... GOAL! Dortmund have equalised with just over 20 minutes to play in the second half.
The atmosphere has exploded now, with the Dortmund fans continuing to sing now!
71: GOAL-LINE CLEARANCE! Thomas Muller almost put Bayern back in-front after a dangerous counter attack saw Weidenfeller come out of his area to try and deny the German from scoring. Muller did a fake shot before weaving past the goalkeeper and slotted the ball towards goal - but Serbian defender Neven Subotic sprinted to clear the ball away and keep the scores level - for now!
75: 15 minutes to play, and it is back-and-forth like a tennis match right now. Bayern attack, Dortmund clear, Dortmund attack, Bayern clear and counter...
76: CHANCE! Great save by Weidenfeller again in this match to deny young left-back David Alaba from giving Bayern the lead again with a swerving 25 yard shot which was parried away at full stretch.
77: Goal-kick to Dortmund, but Bayern are furious that they have not been awarded a penalty after Muller was brought down just as he passed the ball across the box to Mandzukic who hit the side netting.
His pass was too late, and Dortmund are relieved that the referee did not point to the penalty spot for the second time in ten minutes.
80: 10 minutes remaining of the regulated 90, with both teams and sets of supporters starting to get a bit nervous as the clock edges closer to full-time.
If it stays like this, it will go to extra-time (15 minutes each half) but we will cross that bridge IF we get to it.
FACT: It would be the second time in two years that the CL final has gone to extra time....
82: Bayern have a corner, and they are continuing to press for the winner now... Robben to take.
Weidenfeller parries the ball out, the ball falls to Schweinsteiger who hits a strike which flies high and wide of the goal, goal-kick.
83: The match facts do not lie;
23 shots so far tonight, 13 corners.
84: Muller feeds Robben the ball on the Bayern counter attack, who runs with pace towards goal but the ball is intercepted by Ilkay Gundogan who tries to clear but is knocked down by Robben. Gundogan wins a Dortmund free-kick after some good defensive work to deny Robben from having a chance to score..
85: 5 minutes to play, the longer this continues the more chance of the match going to extra time...
Perhaps a repeat of what we saw two week's ago on Wednesday in the Europa League Final?
|Ivanovic scored a late winner for Chelsea in the Europa League Final - could anyone repeat that?|
89: What did I say?!? Bayern have just scored! A dangerous counter attack finds Robben on the ball in space, and he proved his doubters wrong with a tap-in past Weidenfeller into the net to make it 2-1 to Bayern.
#LateWinner #UCL #Robben
90: The fourth official has signalled for 3 minutes of stoppage time to be added on at the end of the match tonight - with both sides making a substitution.
Nuri Sahin and Luiz Gustavo have both come on with just minutes to play.
Can Dortmund replicate their 3-2 win over Malaga with just three minutes to play? I don't think so...
90+3: The referee blows his whistle to end the match at Wembley. Tonight has been an epic night of CL football, with both German sides showing their quality and world supremacy.
Dortmund played well throughout and did not deserve to lose the match in the way they did, but having said that you cannot deny the fact that Bayern have dominated European football this season and deserve the CL trophy after what has happened over the last year.
Very dramatic end to a very entertaining match of football, 90 minutes of footballing greatness. Any player that wants to find out how to play the game? Watch Bayern vs Dortmund.
Arguably better final than last year's at the Allianz Arena, and Bayern have got their redemption from being heartbroken last year against Chelsea.
The Dortmund fans and players look absolutely distraught (what else would they look?) and you have to feel sorry for them as they line up to pick up their runners-up medals.
The Dortmund players have picked up their runners-up medals after a guard of honour from their rivals, and Bayern are walking up to take their winners medals and recieve the UCL trophy.
Right-back and captain Phillip Lahm lifts the UCL trophy and all the players look happy as the supporters rejoice in their victory. Much deserved