August 2010: “Battle of Giants” before Bundesliga kick-off: FC Bayern host Real Madrid

It was a greatly acceptable weekend for FC Bayern Munich. The German flagship club won not only their first title in the still young season when defeating national runners-up FC Schalke 04 2-0 (0-0) in the Supercup final, but the following day it became known that Arjen Robben had been elected “Footballer of the Year 2010” by the German sports journalists, and Louis van Gaal “Coach of the Year” by the football media. Before the kick-off of the new Bundesliga season, which will begin for the title holders with a fixture against VfL Wolfsburg (Friday, August 20, 20:30 hrs), a footballing highlight will dominate affairs. The 22-time German champions from alongside the Isar river will meet the 31-time Spanish champions Real Madrid one week prior to the Bundesliga start. The Allianz Arena will host the accumulation of stars on Friday, August 13, at 20:55 hrs, and public German TV channel ZDF will broadcast the occasion live.

The 2010-11 season continued as the previous ended: FC Bayern Munich achieved a title. Bayern won the Supercup with a 2-0 victory against Schalke. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

The reason for this “Battle of Giants” will represent the Franz Beckenbauer Farewell Game, as the “Kaiser” resigned from his position as FCB President at the end of last year and has yet to enjoy a farewell testimonial match from his retirement from his professional career 33 years ago. The Royal visitors will arrive with World Cup champions Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos, as well as Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentine top striker Gonzalo Higuain. Brazilian Kaka, however, is missing. He has been forced to rest for several months with an injury that plagued him during the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals. German international Sami Khedira could make his debut for Real after travelling with the team’s tour through the USA. The former Stuttgart player was still handicapped by a bruised foot and was rested during Real’s victories in California.

Real Madrid’s team prior to the victory over CF America on August 4, 2010. The Spaniards are coming to the “Battle of Giants” with Bayern Munich at Allianz Arena on August 13. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)

Khedira will meet those colleagues in the Munich side with whom he enjoyed a summer high with the German national team in South Africa four weeks ago. Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, Holger Badstuber and Thomas Mueller, the winner of the Golden Boot as the most successful goalscorer at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, played in the Supercup victory against Schalke after just one week of training. Goalkeeper Joerg Butt and Mario Gomez did not play, but they did the following day (Sunday, August 8) in a very special friendly encounter. Bayern played the Fitness First Winterstars, a selection of many German hobby footballers who are, or were top class in winter sports.

But despite the support of Lothar Matthaeus, Alpine skiing ace Felix Neureuther, three-time Olympic luge champion Georg Hackl as team captain, 2010 Olympic luge gold medallist Felix Loch, and four-time Olympic bobsleigh champion Andre Lange stood little chance. Bayern won 11-1 in the game played over two 20 minutes periods. Franck Ribéry was also in the Munich team, although the Frenchman is not yet fully fit and is undergoing special training. The scorers were Gomez (4), Jose Sosa (3), Ribéry and Toni Kroos (2 each).

The encounter was the conclusion of FC Bayern’s official opening of the season at Allianz Arena, and was attended by 28,000 spectators. Part of the revenues will support the bid by Munich and Garmisch-Partenkirchen to host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. It was a celebratory atmosphere, with the fans serenading van Gaal on his 59th birthday. The Bayern fans sang “Happy Birthday Feierbiest (party beast)”.

Two Dutchmen with high honours: Louis van Gaal (right) was elected “Coach of the Year” in Germany, Arjen Robben “Footballer of the Year”. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)

Real has the longer history, FC Bayern is currently the better team

The match, naturally, was just for fun. That had been different the previous day. Though the Supercup, revived after 14 years, did not suit van Gaal’s calendar, the joy over the small triumph in the prestigious duel was obvious. “We shall improve”, van Gaal promised after the competition in Augsburg, watched by 30,000 spectators, which showed a surprisingly high level considering the intensive training phase. Mueller and Klose, the German World Cup strikers, scored the goals against Schalke. Goalkeeper Thomas Kraft played his first competitive match for the top Bayern professionals. The 22-year-old has so far recorded 97 matches with the record champion’s second team in the regional and third leagues. Raul, who had left Real Madrid after 17 years to move to the Ruhr Region just 10 days earlier, was in the “Royal Blues” (Schalke 04) attack. Contrary to the Telekom Cup in the previous week, when Schalke defeated a B team of Bayern 3-1, Raul did not score one of his “magic” goals. The Munich team was missing their “problem player” Robben, who will be absent for some time with a complicated muscle injury.

Raul’s former club will be a touchstone for Bayern. The duel between Munich and Real Madrid, even though just a friendly, enjoys a special resonance in the world of football. The German national and Cup champions have the highest international quality, but Real are the most successful club of the last century.  The encounter is extremely attractive on the sporting side. This match is a charity game.

In addition, coaches van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, who are good friends, will meet again. The Portuguese, who was once van Gaal’s assistant with FC Barcelona, won the Champions League Final with Inter Milan 2-0 against Bayern Munich and then moved to the Spanish runners-up in the new season. German champions against Spanish runners-up: Though Real can boast the longer history, FC Bayern achieved the better results last season, not only in the national championship but also in the Champions League. This charity friendly match on August 13 could well be repeated in the Champions League in the new season.