The first ever all-German Champions League final is upon us and that means it's time for the third annuel DT Champions League final viewing companion. Wembley will host the match and though excitement in London has been dampened by the fact that all the English clubs in contention were eliminated long ago, the visiting Germans bring all the passion and leather pants necessary for a memorable game.
Of course, since Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich both play in the same domestic league, this is far from the first time they've met this season. Dominant Bayern won the Bundesliga with astounding ease, finishing 25 points ahead of second-place Dortmund in the table. But head to head, they've been much closer, with each of their league matches ending 1-1 — including their most recent earlier this month, which included Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp and Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer going nose to nose (or, more accurately, chin to nose). Bayern did, however, beat Dortmund 1-0 in the DFB Pokal quarterfinals and 2-1 in the German Super Cup match way back in August.
Anyway, you can find serious business previews and primers for this match pretty much everywhere else online and in print. So here we'll do it the Dirty Tackle way.
First, A Hilarious Video Preview From The Exploding Heads
How They Got Here
Borussia Dortmund: Drawn into this season's Group of Death, even Klopp admits to finding it "pretty surprising" that his side made it to the knockout rounds. Not only that, but Dortmund managed to go undefeated in a group rounded out by Real Madrid, Ajax and Man City. After beating Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 16, Dortmund mounted the comeback of the season to beat Spanish underdogs Malaga in the quarterfinals, scoring twice in injury time for a 3-2 win (see those shocking goals at the end of the video above). Dortmund then made embarrassingly easy work of Real Madrid in the semifinals and here they are.
Bayern Munich: Last season, Bayern reached their second Champions League final in three years and seemed poised to avenge their 2010 loss to Inter when Thomas Muller broke the scoreless deadlock in the 83rd minute. But then Didier Drogba equalized for Chelsea in the 88th minute to send the game to extra time. Two more scoreless periods later, it had to be decided on a penalty shootout and Chelsea missed their first shot. After making three in a row, Ivica Olic's attempt was saved and then Bastian Schweinsteiger's attempt hit the post and missed. Bayern lost again, even more painfully than before.
They could have easily had a collective mental breakdown after such a devastating defeat. Instead, they have had one of the greatest seasons in the history of German football, scoring five, six, even nine goals at a time while keeping opponents scoreless for so many consecutive matches that goalkeeper Manuel Neuer started doing drills with his teammates during games just to stay fresh. They've already won the Bundesliga, they absolutely demolished Barcelona by an aggregate score of 7-0 in the Champions League semifinals and now they have two finals — this European final and the German Cup final — left to complete the treble. They are being hailed as the new benchmark by which all other clubs are judged, but they still need to get over this last hump to be considered the undisputed best in Europe.
Jurgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund): Eccentric and without a filter, 45-year-old Klopp has become an international darling. He led Dortmund to Bundesliga titles in 2010/11 and 2011/12, but taking the club to their first Champions League final since they won it in 1997 has brought him a new level of celebrity. He convulses around the touchline like a good-natured lion wearing an electrified collar. After matches, he gives delightful interviews and in the lead-up to this match, he called Bayern a Bond villain in an excellent conversation with the Guardian.
"We are a club, not a company," Klopp began when asked to give a pitch to neutral fans, "but it depends on which kind of story the neutral fan wants to hear. If he respects the story of Bayern, and how much they have won since the 1970s, he can support them. But if he wants the new story, the special story, it must be Dortmund. I think, in this moment in the football world, you have to be on our side."
Jupp Heynckes (Bayern Munich): In Lethal Weapon terms, Heynckes is the Murtaugh to Klopp's Riggs. Except they're not partners and Heynckes only occasionally has an "I'm too old for this s***" look on his face. The 68-year-old has led Bayern to a Bundesliga title and two Champions League finals in the last two years, only getting better and setting all kinds of records along the way, yet it was announced way back in January that former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola would replace him at the end of the season and Heynckes would be put on a chunk of ice and pushed out to sea.
The timing of the announcement and the announcement itself are both slaps in the face to Heynckes, but he's quietly gone about his business of steamrolling all in Bayern's path. After working the final Bundesliga match of the season (in his hometown, no less) last week, he teared up during his press conference.
Marco Reus: Just 23 years old and in his first season with Dortmund — the club he left as a youth player in 2006 — Reus has shown why they paid Gladbach €17 million to get him back. He was named Germany's footballer of the year in 2012. He's excellent on the ball, he can pass, he can shoot, he scored 19 goals in all competitions this season and he can probably beat you in any Pokemon video game out there. That last part is just a guess, but it's probably true. Don't question it.
Robert Lewandowski: With 10 goals in the Champions League this season — four of which he scored in one match against Real Madrid — only Cristiano Ronaldo (12) has scored more. Everything you need to know about Lewandowski can be found here. And if you don't want to know anything about him, well, that's already been ruined for you now, hasn't it?
Thomas Muller: Bayern's leading scorer in the Champions League (8) and second best scorer in the Bundesliga (13), Muller is always a threat. He also seems a little unhinged. He likes to scream. He might own a suit made out of human skin.
Franck Ribery: Consistently capable of scoring a brilliant goal himself or setting up his teammates to do so with ease, Ribery has been one of the keys to Bayern success these last handful of years. If you invade the pitch after a match, he will hug you and give you his shirt.
Honorable mention: Mario Gomez. Though he's fallen out of favor since the arrival of Mario Mandzukic last summer, the prolific scorer has his own Internet button. And it's wonderful. So there's that.
Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund): One of the jewels of German football, 20-year-old Gotze has been with Dortmund since he was nine years old. He will miss the final with a hamstring injury, relegating one of the match's biggest sub-plots to watch from the seats. At the end of April, it was revealed that Bayern had triggered Gotze's €37-million release clause and lured him to agree to a summer move. This was why Klopp called Bayern a Bond villain.
Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich): If he had played in the final, would he have acted as a double agent? Is that why Bayern secured his services so long before the transfer window even opens? Even though he's injured, he will still have access to Dortmund's dressing room, so maybe he'll put stool softeners in their sports drinks.
How They Win
Borussia Dortmund: Speed and quickness on the counter attack, capitalizing on the mistakes of opponents and disorienting them with the awkward yelps of their manager on the touchline.
Bayern Munich: Normally, it's complete and total annihilation, but against Dortmund they have to be a little more careful.
Commentator Talking Points
Some words, phrases and facts you're likely to hear from the match commentators...
-"The German revolution."
-"Is the Bundesliga the best league in the world?"
-"Are Bayern the best team in the world?"
-"Seriously, we will all die a painful death if we cannot decide what things are the absolute best."
-The time nine years ago when Bayern bailed Dortmund out of a dire financial situation with a €2 million loan.
-Bayern president Uli Hoeness doesn't pay his taxes.
-"Wouldn't it be great if Lionel Messi was here?"
-And if you're watching the U.S. broadcast of the match: The mispronunciations, incomprehensible shouting and confused ramblings of Gus Johnson.
What To Do After The Match
If Dortmund win: Pump "Kloppo You Rockstar" at full blast all night long.
If Bayern win: Listen to the Munich philharmonic's "Mia San Mia" and gently weep along with the players as they finally vanquish their demons and achieve their ultimate goal.
Follow @BrooksDT on Twitter for random musings during the game.