When Aloysius van Gaal stopped FC Bayern

Aloysius Paulus Maria, generally known as Louis, is responsible for FC Bayern Munich having to overcome a deep disappointment. Louis van Gaal was predominantly responsible when the Munich club was stopped from reaching the final at their first ever participation in the UEFA Champions League. For van Gaal coached Ajax Amsterdam, the noble Dutch club, from 1991 until 1997. Amsterdam-born van Gaal had played with Ajax as a junior, but made his breakthrough as a professional later with Sparta Rotterdam and AZ Alkmaar.  Years later he proved himself very successful as a coach with Ajax Amsterdam, among others, leading AFC Ajax to win the most prestigious trophy of the European Football Federation, UEFA -- the trophy for the best national champion in Europe. The Dutch defeated AC Milan 1-0 in the final in Vienna. In the semi-final – and here is where the Bavarians feature – Louis van Gaal and his Ajax team eliminated the German record-winning champions. After a goalless draw in Munich, Amsterdam won the second leg 5-2.

Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaal, known as Louis, with the UEFA European Champions Cup. Van Gaal won the Trophy with Ajax Amsterdam in 1995. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

This meant the first participation by FC Bayern Munich ended in the 1994-95 season, the third UEFA Champions League season. The German record-winning champions had of course been one of the top clubs in the European Champions Cup for decades; they won the most important club competition in Europe, which was called Champions League by UEFA from 1991, three times between 1974 and 1976. Bayern Munich has won the top European event once in the 19-year phase of the Champions League, in Milan 2001. Since their 2-0 defeat by Inter Milan in the final in Madrid in May 2010, this season the team and their coach van Gaal have strived to improve.

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Second place in 2010 should be followed hopefully by first place in 2011. But even the group matches have proved tough. The 2-0 opening victory against AS Rome in Group E was followed by a 2-1 win in Basle, thanks to two goals by Bastian Schweinsteiger -- the first from the penalty spot for the 1-1 equaliser (56th), the second in the 89th minute with a shot from the right. This meant the Bavarians, who had lost 2-1 to Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga three days before, successfully held on to the top position in their group, ahead of CFR Cluj who lost 2-1 to AS Rome.

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Bastian Schweinsteiger prior to FC Bayern’s 2-1 win over FC Basle in the second group match of the 2010-11 Champions League. He scored both goals. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

Here you can find more information about the first opponents

Romanian champions Cluj will be guests of Munich for the third match on October 19.

FC Bayern, eight times a finalist in the Champions Cup

The Bavarians are one of the most successful teams in this top competition, and their coach Louis van Gaal is now as much a part of the furniture of the Champions League as FC Bayern Munich. Fifteen years ago, when Amsterdam stopped Munich from reaching the final, not only Louis van Gaal was there. Munich’s manager Christian Nerlinger was then a very important player with FC Bayern, scoring three goals during the Champions League campaign that season before the Germans were eliminated by the Dutch.

The debut appearance of Football Club Bayern Munich on the European championship stage began 41 years ago. The club won their first German title in 1932. In 1969, three years after promotion to the highest German division, they achieved their first Bundesliga title, followed by 20 more up till 2010. The average number of spectators in the 1968-69 Bundesliga season was just 25,000 at their stadium on Gruenwalder Strasse. Munich’s first participation in the European Champions Cup was very short. Dieter Brenninger and Franze “Bulle” Roth scored the goals for a 2-0 win at home over AS St. Etienne in the first leg of the first round. But with a 3-0 defeat away by the then best French club Munich suffered an early elimination.

But FC Bayern blossomed in the 1970s. The team also provided the majority of players for the German national team that won the 1972 European and 1974 World Cup titles. Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer, Uli Hoeness, Paul Breitner and Gerd Mueller, together with their Bayern Munich team-mates, won everything there was to win. The Bavarians achieved a hat-trick in the European Champions Cup -- 1974 (over Atletico Madrid), 1975 (against Leeds United) and 1976 (over St. Etienne). Germany’s most renowned club reached another two finals in the 1980s, but lost both (1982 to Aston Villa/1987 to FC Porto).

Real Madrid lead from AC Milan, Liverpool and FC Bayern

The UEFA Champions League was founded in 1992, and proved a big hit for the European Federation. UEFA has earned top marks for its excellent preparation for this competition. From the anthem to the identification mark, the ball formed by stars, the Champions League enjoys a corporate identity of the highest recognition. All stadia and TV formats wear the Champions League look. UEFA has created one of the most successful brands in international sports, comparable in many ways with the Olympic Rings. FC Bayern Munich is an integral part of this financially successful competition. The club is taking part for the 14th time in the 2010-11 season.

The FC Bayern Munich team in Milan on May 23, 2001, following their final victory over FC Valencia in the Champions League. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

The Bavarians were in the final of the European super league three times. They won the event in 2001, defeating FC Valencia 5-4 after a penalty shoot-out in Milan. In 1999, they lost to Manchester United 2-1 with luck failing them in the last minute in Barcelona; in 2010 they lost 2-0 to Inter Milan in Madrid.

The European Champions Cup has been played since 1955. In the overall statistics of winners FC Bayern Munich held fourth position in 2010. Four victories in eight finals are only surpassed by Real Madrid (9 wins/12 finals), AC Milan (7/11) and Liverpool FC (5/7).  Such top clubs as Ajax Amsterdam (4/6), FC Barcelona (3/6), Inter Milan (3/5), Manchester United (3/4), Benfica Lisbon (2/7) and Juventus Turin (2/7) rank behind the Bavarians. It is a paramount ambition of FC Bayern Munich to advance to third place by achieving another triumph, 10 years after their last at San Siro, but six, seven top clubs are also striving for this highest goal in the world’s most spectacular football league. The crowning of the yet unknown king has been scheduled for May 28, 2011, at Wembley Stadium in London.