A nightmare for Bayern Munich

From afar the renowned “New York Times” commented, “Bayern ended the season without a title – this was without question the bitterest taste of all.” The 5-4 defeat on penalties against Chelsea in the final of the UEFA Champions League was without doubt the biggest blow Bayern Munich and its many millions of fans have ever had to suffer. The almost 180,000 member strong club – the biggest in Germany – whose role of honour includes six wins in European competitions (including four European Cups), 22 German league championship wins, 15 national cup wins, was numbed by the shock. The defeat Bayern suffered on 19 May was perhaps the worst in their history. “It was one of the bitterest losses ever, said Franz Beckenbauer, the club’s honorary president, who himself celebrated major triumphs but who also had to endure painful defeats.

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Disappointed Bayern Munich players after the 5-4 defeat against Chelsea: Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Arjen Robben und Toni Kroos (left to right). (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


"I experienced it in 1999 in our dramatic 2-1 loss. Back then it was unbelievably brutal but I get the impression that this time around it is even more bitter, even more brutal and basically even more unnecessary,” said club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the former world class striker. In 1999, Munich lost the Champions League final in Barcelona to a last-minute goal against Manchester United. This time around it was Chelsea who themselves experienced defeat in a penalty shoot-out drama – against Manchester United – in Moscow in 2008. The London club became the first one from Britain’s capital city to win Europe’s biggest prize.

Munich have become “vice champions” like Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 when the German team finished the season as runners-up in the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and the Champions League (1-2 against Real Madrid in Glasgow). Bayern only placed second for the second year in a row in the Bundesliga behind Borussia Dortmund and were on the wrong end of a 5-2 scoreline in the DFB cup final in Berlin against their big national rivals. All hopes of a happy end to the season then centred on the final of Europe’s top competition.

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To become the first team to win the world’s most valuable club competition in their own stadium would have more than made up for their 2011/2012 Bundesliga season whereby their points total would have given them the title in previous years. But then came Bayern’s black day in Munich when the record German champions didn’t use their home advantage. They gave away the lead that Thomas Müller had given them in the 83rd minute when Didier Drogba equalised in the 88th minute and then failed to convert a penalty when Arjen Robben’s shot was saved in the 95th. “We had three match points,” lamented Rummenigge. By that he also meant the lead they had in the penalty shoot-out that became necessary after the scores were still level after extra time.

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After scoring the equaliser in normal time and the match-winning penalty in the shoot-out, two-goal Didier Drogba is seen holding the cup for the UEFA Champions League winner. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

Chelsea manager Du Matteo: “We simply had more luck”

Bayern were 3-1 up in the extra competition and 4-2 overall. But then Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Drogba all converted whilst Bayern’s Ivica Olic and Bastian Schweinsteiger both missed. Chelsea Football Club had finally done it after only finishing sixth in the Premier League this season. Not only FC Bayern Munich were downcast, Tottenham Hotspur too as the London club missed out on the hoped for berth in the Champions League. It will now go to Chelsea as this year’s winners.

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Chelsea’s Frank Lampard (to the front) and Bastian Schweinsteiger from Bayern Munich go head to head. Arjen Robben (lefts) and Toni Kroos are watching on. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


Bayern President Uli Hoeneß felt that the outcome of the final was “cruel”. Rummenigge spoke of “unbelievable sadness”. Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes bemoaned the many goal scoring opportunities his players had missed: “You have to put them away, you have to take them otherwise you’ll be punished.” But there was also praise. “Munich provided us with some great games in the Champions League, especially against Real Madrid. Against Chelsea they were the better team over 120 minutes and had the better chances. Football is sometimes brutal,” said German national coach Joachim Löw. He once played with Roberto Di Matteo, the Chelsea manager, in Schaffhausen in Switzerland. Di Matteo, who took over the London team after the Portuguese Andre Villas-Boas was fired, commented: "Bayern played well, they perhaps had lots more chances than we did. When the game goes to penalties then it’s a lottery. We simply had more luck.” And Bayern’s Director of Football Christian Nerlinger summed up the bitter experience, which was also similar to the one in 2010 when they lost 2-0 to Inter Milan in Madrid, of missing out on their second success in the Champions League since 2001 by saying, “It’s a terrible nightmare. It’s like a bad film.”