But even if it isn t even if it turns out that two English teams or two Spanish teams play for the championship next year in Lisbon and the Bundesliga continues to lag behind the Premier League in popularity there will always be this game. This night. This classic.
The British call a final like this a showpiece and on a perfect night at Wembley it was. There was tension. There was passion. There was wizardry and precision and players who seemed ready to run forever. There was in the end redemption.
It was fitting Arjen Robben the Dutch wing who had been roundly criticized for struggling in the biggest moments starred in the most critical sequence of all scoring the decisive goal for Bayern in the 89th minute and lifting the Bavarians to a 2 1 victory in front of a crowd announced at 86 298. Robben s goal was also the perfect symbol for Bayern s collective measure of payback as it reversed the crushing defeat it suffered to Chelsea in last year s final at home.
The finish was sublime. After slipping behind the Dortmund defense Robben took a pass from Franck Rib ry eluded a defender and then coolly flicked the ball past Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller. Last year Robben missed a critical penalty kick in the loss to Chelsea this year he was off running before the ball even crossed the goal line sprinting toward the Bayern fans with his eyes wide and shaking his hands with glee.
Robben who also lost the World Cup final with the Netherlands in 2010 said he nearly saw his career flash before him as he celebrated. You don t want the label of loser you don t want that tag he said afterward cradling his award as the man of the match.
This is a dream he said.
At the final whistle many of the Dortmund players collapsed to the ground. They played Munich four previous times this season and could never do better than two draws but on this day they played as if they believed they could pull off a huge upset despite making only the second European final appearance in club history.
We re proud to have given Bayern a real game tonight Weidenfeller said. We played well but it wasn t meant to be.
Instead it was Bayern the German juggernaut that won its fifth European title sending off Coach Jupp Heynckes in the best possible manner. Heynckes 68 will be replaced by the former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola next year but even the Spanish master will have trouble topping Heynckes s final season Bayern won the Bundesliga in record fashion claimed the Champions League over its rival and could add the German Cup with a win in the final next week.
Guardiola will take over this summer and talk of a Bayern dynasty will begin long before he sets foot in Germany.
It s quite possible that a new era in Europe might have begun Heynckes said.
Heynckes also noted that Guardiola will take over a perfectly functioning team and it would be hard to argue otherwise. Bayern is a monolith with financial resources that allow it to poach players when necessary including Dortmund s star forward Mario G tze who did not play in the final because of an injury. Heynckes also indicated that Dortmund s Robert Lewandoski would most likely come to Munich as well.
Given that Dortmund s future is less certain. Dortmund is known as more of a scrappy underdog though that label is not altogether accurate. While the team may well lose some of its players the club is hardly downtrodden. In terms of revenues Dortmund is the 11th biggest club in Europe and its image which is rooted in passionate fans a team motto of Echte Liebe (True Love) and fluorescent bumblebee themed uniforms makes it a trendy choice for German neutrals. That its coach Jurgen Klopp is of the quirky genius mold surely helps.