"I almost get the impression that tonight was even more brutal, even bitterer, than losing in Barcelona in 1999, when we led 1-0 and conceded in the 89th and 92nd minutes." In the early hours of Sunday morning, FC Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge struggled to get his words out at the club's post-match dinner following Bayern's penalty shoot-out heartbreak to Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League Final at the Allianz Arena.
So many had expected this to be Bayern Munich's year to reclaim the title they last won in 2001. They had managed to upset the odds and beat Real Madrid over two legs, needing another penalty shoot-out themselves in the Bernabeu a few weeks ago. They had reached a second final in three seasons, this time with a more experienced, if slightly depleted, team. And they were contesting the final on their home ground. It seemed somehow fated that Germany's most successful club would clinch a fifth European crown and become the first team to win the competition on home soil in the Champions League era. Instead, the primary emotion on the faces of directors, players, coaches and fans of the club was utter devastation.
In truth, this was a game that should have been won by the home side. Bayern out-passed (790 to 633), out-shot (35-9) and generally outplayed Roberto Di Matteo's Chelsea team. They had 20 corners to Chelsea's one and enjoyed 56% of possession. But they simply didn't put their chances away. Striker Mario Gomez, lauded for his goals record, but pilloried in equal measure for his poor strike rate, was particularly profligate in the first half, while Arjen Robben totalled 16 efforts on goal alone, including a missed penalty. Franck Ribéry also had a goal disallowed for offside early on in the second half.
The elusive goal did arrive eventually for the hosts, when Thomas Müller forced a downward header past Petr Cech at the near post to spark wild scenes among the club's most fervent supporters in the Südkurve and leave Bayern seven minutes from lifting the biggest prize in European club football. But three minutes before the end, Jerome Boateng lost Didier Drogba at a corner and Chelsea's man for the big occasions popped up with a powerful equalising header.
In extra time, Bayern continued to make most of the running and had the two best chances to win the game before it reached a penalty shoot-out. Robben was presented with a golden chance to put his team 2-1 up in extra time, but his poor penalty was saved by Petr Cech after Drogba's needless trip on Ribéry.
The penalty shoot-out looked to be going the same way as Bayern's recent experience against Real Madrid. Captain Philipp Lahm, Gomez and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer all coolly converted whilst Juan Mata easily had his effort saved by the imposing Neuer. The tide turned as Croatian substitute Ivica Olic had his effort saved by the inspired Cech as the scores were tied at 3-3 after four penalties each.
|Nicely written. Gives an accurate and somber account of the carnage.|
They say things come in three's - good or bad - and for the purposes of this article, I'll focus on the good. There's horse racing's Triple Crown, there's American baseball's Triple Crown. The Three Musketeers. Triple word score in Scrabble. I'm sure we can go on all day, but there's one special 'three-some' everyone in Munich is focusing on these days. On Saturday, FC Bayern Munich will be looking to make history and join an elite group of European football clubs if they are to win the UEFA Champions League Final against Inter Milan.
Three titles, or as most football fans say, the "treble",...
Munich, May 23 - There will be a list of items going through each Bayern fan later this afternoon as they cheer their team one last time this season: Madrid. Milito. Mourinho. Milan. I would like to add one more for Bayern "missed opportunities" but there just wasn't a lot to discuss about that during Inter Milan's 2-0 victory in the UEFA Champions League Final in Madrid last night.
There's something about playing a Final in Spain that is becoming a major obstacle for Bayern. From the start, they played well; dominating possession and it looked like their game plan would continue to create...
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