Bayern Munich have had a turbulent Champions League Season, in fact, there was little to suggest in the early group stages that they would even make it into the last 16.
Van Gaal’s side were off to a respectable start with a 3-0 away win against Israeli minnows Maccabi Haifa. This early momentum was disrupted by a 0-0 home draw against Italian giants Juventus and a 2-1 loss at the hands of Bordeaux.
In the following return game against Bordeaux, Bayern lost 2-0, leaving the Germans with just 4 points from 4 games. The final two group stage matches were therefore must win games; however, despite a home victory against Maccabi Haifa, the 1-0 scoreline did little to bring stability to Bayern’s Champions League push.
The final group clash was a daunting prospect, a must-win clash against Juventus in Turin. If Bayern had shown little of their true potential in the Champions League, then this was the game where they finally came into their stride; Olic, Gomez, Tymoschuk and Hans-Joerg Butt all made the score sheet as they came from 1-0 down to win 4-1 in a historic finale to Group A. The Germans salvaged what seemed a lost cause to take the groups runner up spot with 10 points.
The group of 16 clash brought more difficult Italian opposition. Fiorentina had won 5 of their 6 group games, including two against Liverpool, to win the group comfortably. The home leg saw Bayern 1-0 up thanks to a Robben penalty at half time; in an explosive second half Bayern’s lead was cut by a 50th minute equaliser, and then a 10 man Fiorentina disputed with officials after Miroslav Klose secured the winner in the 89th minute when clearly offside.
At 3-1 down in the away leg Bayern were leaving the competition 4-3 on aggregate. Arjen Robben, however, popped up with a 30 yard wonder goal in the 65th minute to secure Bayern’s quarter final clash with Manchester United on the away goals rule.
At the Allianz Arena this 1999 Champions League Final rematch got off to the worst possible start for Bayern, Wayne Rooney popping up in the second minute to put United ahead. A scrappy game then saw the home team secure the win in the second half with a deflected Robben free-kick and a brilliant last minute poachers goal from Olic.
At 3-0 down in 41 minutes at the away leg in Manchester it looked curtains for the German side, however, Olic popped up again with another goal from nothing to bring Bayern within 1 goal of qualifying for the semi’s. After Rafael was sent off Bayern pressed and grabbed their elusive goal in the form of a beautiful left foot volley from Robben.
Unsurprisingly two hugely entertaining and difficult ties for Bayern had given them great confidence going into the Semi Final against Lyon. As expected the Bavarians eased through with 1-0 and 3-0 victories. The main talking point of this tie is the red card given to the teams talisman Ribery, who will now miss the final due to a 3 match ban which was appealed by the Frenchman, but subsequently rejected.
Bayern now face Inter in their first Champions League final since 2001, in what is sure to be a fine spectacle as two of the world’s finest managers lock horns.
Written By Jack Parkinson