With the Champions League final at Bayern Munich’s wonderful Allianz Arena stadium in May, the German giants are on a mission to go all the way this year, and it would take a brave man to bet against them.
This season Bayern have assembled a very strong squad which is capable of scaring any team’s defence. In the summer they signed the impressive goalkeeper Manuel Neuer from Schalke and defender Jerome Boateng from Manchester City to bolster what had been weak areas in their team. They also signed the Brazilian right-back Rafinha, which means they possess two naturally attacking fullbacks, with Phillip Lahm moved to left back.
All that is in addition to the devastating attacking talent they already have, which includes Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Mario Gomez, Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos. On any given day Bayern Munich can tear into any defence in the world and to devastating effect.
Of course Bayern must first overcome a difficult group which contains big spending Manchester City, Napoli and Villareal. But for every team dreaming of lifting the Champions League trophy they must overcome a huge obstacle in the shape of FC Barcelona.
The Catalans are once again everybody’s firm favourites and they are undoubtedly the best club side in the world at present and possibly ever, but no team has ever won the Champions League back to back, which offers some hope to other teams. Two years ago it looked as if Barca would achieve that feat, but they were stopped by a strong and stubborn Inter Milan side led by Jose Mourinho, which shows they can be beaten.
Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid side also look even stronger this season and will have a big impact on the Champions League. An English side hasn’t won the competition for four years and they will be desperate to put that right with Manchester United and Chelsea the strongest candidates from the Premier League.
But after losing in the final in 2010 and going out at the last 16 stage last season, Bayern Munich will be hungrier and more determined to achieve success in Europe’s elite club competition, especially at their home ground. With Uli Hoeness as President and German legend Karl Heinz Rummenigge a member of the board, there is added pressure for Coach Jupp Heynckes, now in his third spell in charge of the club, to deliver the Champions League to the Allianz Arena in this particular season.
But sides hosting the Champions League final at their own ground don’t always get to the final, as evidenced by Real Madrid in 2010. Florentino Perez returned to the club as president and immediately splashed over £200 million on Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso, in order for Madrid to reach the Champions League final, which was being staged at the club’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
It all ended horribly for Real as they were knocked out by Lyon in the last 16, Bayern Munich will hope they fair a lot better than their Spanish counterparts.
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