Champions League Semi-Final Preview
Bayern Munich will be bidding to book their place in the Champions League final for the third time in four years, but first face the daunting task of beating 2011 winners Barcelona.
The two meet each other at the Allianz Arena this evening for the first leg of their semi-final with a place in May’s final at Wembley on offer for the winner.
Last season’s run to the final ended in disappointment for the Germans when they lost on penalties to Chelsea.
An 83rd minute goal from Thomas Muller looked as though it would secure Bayern’s fifth European title but a last-gasp equaliser from Didier Drogba sent the tie to extra time.
The deadlock was not broken in extra time and the match went to penalties. Munich began in typical efficiency, with Phillip Lahm, Mario Gomez and Manuel Neuer all putting their spot kicks away.
Chelsea had only put away two of their three penalties but then Ivica Olic saw his shot saved by Petr Cech. Ashley Cole put his penalty away but Bastian Schweinsteiger’s effort was tipped onto the post, allowing Drogba to net the winning the penalty to confirm Chelsea as champions.
It was a similar story for Bayern two years previous, when a brace from David Milito secured a 2-0 win and the title for Inter Milan at the Santiago Bernabeu.
You have to go back to 2001 for the last time they lifted the Champions League when they beat Valencia on penalties at the San Siro.
Their other three European titles came in consecutive years during the mid-70s when they enjoyed a successful run of seasons.
After dominating German football for a number of year when they won the Bundesliga three times in as many seasons (1972, 1973 and 1974), they went onto conquer the rest of continent in the European Cup.
Gerd Muller’s goals at the time helped Bayern to succeed in Europe and he fired home twice in the 74 replayed final against Athletico Madrid as they romped to a 4-0 victory after the original match had finished 1-1.
Muller was also on the score sheet when they won their second European title the following year. He and Franz Roth both netted as Munich beat Leeds United 2-0 in the final in Paris.
And the third title in as many years was lifted in 76 when Roth scored the only goal of the game at Hampden Park as Bayern beat Saint Ettienne.
Nowadays it’s the likes of Mario Madzukic, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez who are firing in the goals for the club and they’ll have to have their shooting boots on tonight if they’re to have any chance of beating Barca.
The Spaniards are hoping that talisman Lionel Messi will be fit to play in the match after missing the side’s last two league games. He has not featured since their second leg win over Paris Saint Germain but could feature in the semi-final tonight.
Meanwhile, tomorrow’s semi-final sees another Germany v Spain match-up with Borussia Dortmund hosting Real Madrid.