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Bayern Munich’s Jupp Heynckes

Bayern Munich’s Jupp Heynckes

Bayern Munich’s Jupp Heynckes

If IRELAND boss Giovanni Trapattoni is shrewd, he will have a pen and notebook at the ready when he sits down to watch the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at Wembley this evening.

There could be much for international bosses like Trap to learn.

The same could also be said for managers in the Premier League and the England international side who have seen German football overtake the world's richest and most popular league in terms of quality and attendances.

The stark reality that the nations were moving in opposite directions came in Bloemfontein in June 2010 when England were humiliated 4-1 in the World Cup last 16 by a German side with power and dynamic talent.

True, it was the day Frank Lampard saw a legitimate goal disallowed, the referee controversially deeming the ball had not crossed the line when it clearly did by at least a yard.

 

DEMONSTRATED

But it was also the day when young German footballers demonstrated quick feet, sharp minds and a thoroughly modern outlook, while England's goal came via a hopeful cross lumped in by Steven Gerrard and headed home by a big central defender of limited talent in Matthew Upson. It was the day football's past and future collided. This evening, Wembley will be graced by many of those German stars from Bloemfontein.

By Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, by Philipp Lahm, Thomas Muller, and the incomparable Bastian Schweinsteiger. For Dortmund, meanwhile, there will also be Robert Lewandowski, the Polish striker on the radar of Europe's top clubs and who could play a decisive role in England's World Cup qualifying campaign when Hodgson's side play Poland at Wembley in October. Austrian midfielder David Alba (inset right) will also feature, a man who broke Irish hearts with his last-minute equaliser at the Aviva Stadium back in March.

The fact that Bayern dismissed Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals while Dortmund edged past Real Madrid 5-4, both showing clinical efficiency, at the same time as the Bundesliga is leading the way on crowds, reasonable ticket prices and profitability, proved the German model is the one to beat.

Now Wembley requires a final of sumptuous entertainment. Will it get it? It is doubtful, if only because the teams know each other so well and Bayern will be cautious after losing two of the last three Champions League finals.

Despite having run away with the Bundesliga title by a massive 25 points, Bayern have also won just two of their last nine matches against Dortmund.

 

SQUEEZING

In the past, Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp has found a way of squeezing Bayern's width by closing down wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben and negating their threat on the counter-attack.

If his side can do that tonight they will give themselves a chance against a team who have won 24 of their last 26 matches. The downside is that they might also suppress the entertainment.

Dortmund will be missing the Bayern-bound Mario Gotze, who has a thigh injury. Yet it remains an intriguing encounter.

Dortmund's instinct is to press forward. Bayern's is to win the ball high up the pitch and let their wide men do the damage. Both teams possess an impressive work ethic and the way Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes has encouraged Robben and Ribery to track back and close down opponents is one of football's small wonders.

The odds favour the power and quality of Bayern, who will welcome Pep Guardiola to the coaching helm next season and could dominate European football for years.

But Dortmund with Lewandowski have a puncher's chance in what could be a tense and compelling battle of wills.

And here's a thought. Thirteen players eligible for the German national team, with an average age of 25, were in the starting line-ups for Bayern and Dortmund when the semi-finals kicked off last month.

 

TECHNIQUE

A similar number, all with fine technique, powerful engines, a winning mentality and the ability to keep the football, will grace Wembley.

The Germans are doing something right.

Just something for Hodgson and Trapattoni to ponder enviously as they jot in their notebooks.


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