Molinaro on Champions League: Bayern team of destiny

Bayern's Arjen Robben of the Netherlands, center, celebrates scoring the winning goal, during the Champions League Final soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich at Wembley Stadium in London, Saturday May 25, 2013. (AP/Matt Dunham)

In case you missed it, here are the highlights from Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at London’s Wembley Stadium.

The result

Match highlights: Bayern Munich 2, Borussia Dortmund 1

The day’s main talking points:

1. Bayern’s will to win: Bayern took one more step towards greatness, adding their fifth European crown to the Bundesliga title it won in record fashion earlier this season. Now all that stands in their way is Stuttgart in the final on the German Cup on June 1. If the Bavarian outfit can win that, it would cap off a treble-winning season that will go down as one of the greatest club campaigns in history. Don’t bet against Bayern from pulling it off. They’ve firmly established themselves as the new kings of world football, having rolled over Arsenal, Juventus, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund in quick succession to win the Champions League. No doubt Bayern is loaded with talent and depth at every position on the field. But what put them over the top was their unmatched will to win. They only suffered one loss in the entire Bundesliga season, were only beaten twice in the entire Champions League campaign, and now look dead certain to win next week’s German Cup. Bayern, for all of its quality, has demonstrated a will to win far greater than any other club on the planet right now. We saw it in their historical destruction of Barcelona in the semifinals, and it was this virtue that allowed them to emerge victorious at Wembley. After notching the equalizer in the 68th minute, momentum shifted to Dortmund’s favour and it looked as though they had Bayern on the back foot. But Bayern did what it’s done so many times this season: find a way to win. That’ll be the legacy of this fantastic team.

2. Robben to the rescue: Arjen Robben is a player who tends to divide opinion among soccer fans, and Saturday’s final was no exception. This contest saw the very worst of the Dutchman – going down too easily under challenges, showing a lack of commitment, over reliance on his left foot, and a shameful reluctance to pass the ball and trying to do it all himself. Time and time again, he wasted quality scoring chances, including a handful of misses in the first half that were absolutely criminal. Robben’s worst transgression came in the 74th minute with the score tied. Thomas Müller latched onto the ball and rounded Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, with his shot looking destined for the back of the net. But Dortmund defender Neven Subotić slid to make a goal-line clearance with Robben bearing down on him. The Dutchman looked pretty lethargic on the play, and if he legged it out a bit more, he probably could have beat Subotić to the ball and tapped it in. However, we also saw the best of Robben and how the Dutchman caused plenty of problems for Dortmund’s defence. It was Robben who when he appeared to be running out of room near the byline managed to beat his marker and play a ball across to the back post Mario Mandžukić to tap in and give Bayern the lead after 60 minutes. And then, of course, there was the winning goal when Robben kept his composure as he rounded Weidenfeller and calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net.

3. Goalkeeper’s dual: Realizing he wasn’t the star of the show, Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli didn’t call every little marginal foul and allowed the players to decide the contest. As a result, spectators were treated to an open game with both sides committed to paying attacking soccer. No surprise, then, that there were plenty of scoring chances over the 90 minutes, but instead of the scorers taking centre stage, it was the goalkeepers. The match quickly became a dual between the two acclaimed shot stoppers, with Dortmund’s Roman Weidenfeller and Bayern’s Manuel Neur making a series of outstanding saves. Neur, in particular, was outstanding early on, making no less than four saves in the opening 22 minutes to keep Bayern in the contest. Weidenfeller came up huge several times in the second half, keeping the game on a knife edge before he was beaten by Robben in the final minute of regulation. It was shame that it had to end that way for Weidenfeller, but really, he had no chance of stopping the Dutchman after he ran onto Franck Ribery’s back-heeled flick-on into the area.

Sportsnet’s play of the day

Six pack of facts

Dortmund was undefeated against Bayern in their previous six league games (four wins and two draws).

Bayern won its last five Champions League games (quarter-finals, semifinals and final) by an aggregate score of 13-1.

Bayern could become the first German team to win the Treble (league championship, domestic cup, and the Champions League or European Cup). Bayern meets Stuttgart in the German Cup final on June 1.

Only six teams have ever won a league, domestic cup and European Cup/Champions League treble: Celtic (1966-67), Ajax (1971-72), PSV Eindhoven (1987-88), Manchester United (1998-99), Barcelona (2008-09) and Inter Milan (2009-10)

Bayern now has five Champions League/European Cups, tied with Liverpool. Only AC Milan (seven) and Real Madrid (nine) have won it more often.

In the Bundesliga and Champions League this season, Bayern has won 39 of the 41 games they’ve led (with two draws).

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Goal of the day

The game seemed destined for extra time when Arjen Robben decided the matter in the 89th minute. Franck Ribery caused some havoc down the left side before the ball broke into the box. Robben kept his composure as he beat Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller with a delicate finish, rolling the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

Save of the day

With the game tied 1-1 and both sides pressing, Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller came up with stop of the match. David Alaba unleashed a fierce shot from the edge of the penalty area that seemed destined for the top corner, but Weidenfeller parried it away with both hands to keep the game tied.

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Tweet of the day

Robben scored the winner, but he missed a fistful of chances in the first half, prompting this:

Burning questions

Who will make way in Bayern Munich’s starting line-up next season when Mario Götze joins the Bavarian club from Borussia Dortmund during this summer’s transfer window?

Has Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, uncapped by Germany, done enough to earn a call up to the national team?

How will Pep Guardiola keep Bayern on top of the Bundesliga and Europe when he takes over the coaching reins this summer?

Is this the start of the process that sees Dortmund dismantled as Europe’s glamour clubs pick off Dortmund’s best players, much like it happened with Ajax after it won the 1995 Champions league final?

3 stars

1) Roman Weidenfeller: The 32-year old goalkeeper kept Dortmund in the game and came up with several sensational stops in the second half. If not for him, Bayern could have won 3-1.

2) Arjen Robben: He squandered plenty of chances, but he set up the goal by Mario Mandžukić that gave Bayern the lead, and then netted the winner that delivered the Bavarians their fifth title.

3) Manuel Neur: Not to be outdone by Weidenfeller, the Bayern shot stopper also made a handful of outstanding saves in a game especially early on, to prevent Dortmund from running away with it.

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