Bayern, Dortmund take rivalry to new level
LONDON (AP) -Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will take their increasingly acrimonious rivalry to a new level Saturday in the first all-German Champions League final.
Relations between Germany's top two teams were always likely to be fraught ahead of their clash at Wembley Stadium, but a power struggle off the pitch has increased the stakes for the biggest prize in European club football.
Dortmund, in particular, is unhappy with Bayern's transfer dealings as Mario Goetze is switching to the Bavarian side next season and top-scorer Robert Lewandowski is apparently keen to follow suit.
Despite finishing a record 25 points ahead of Dortmund in the Bundesliga, Bayern is keen to cement its status as the country's undisputed No. 1 after suffering the ignominy of watching Dortmund claim back-to-back titles while earning plaudits for its attractive style of play.
"Dortmund really annoyed us for two years. This is a wonderful response,'' said Bayern president Uli Hoeness after his side wrapped up the title with a record six games to spare.
Goetze is arguably Germany's most exciting prospect and Bayern is paying his buy-out clause of 37 million euros ($50 million) for the two-pronged effect of reinforcing an already formidable side while dealing a blow to its main domestic rival.
Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp told British newspaper The Guardian that he almost had a heart attack on hearing the news of the 20-year-old's departure and said that several of his players had trouble sleeping afterwards. He also compared Bayern to a James Bond villain.
Bayern's sports director Matthias Sammer hit back at the comments.
"To think the whole world is behind you is also a form of humility,'' Sammer said. "We have freedom of speech in Germany. He gives his opinion on certain things and we don't.''
Sammer, who won the title as a player with Dortmund in 1997 and later coached the team to the 2002 Bundesliga title, clashed with Klopp on the sideline during the sides' ill-tempered 1-1 draw in the Bundesliga earlier this month.
Lewandowski is another issue of contention.
The Polish striker, who has scored 10 Champions League goals this season, has refused to sign a new deal at Dortmund and had reportedly told club management he only wants to join Bayern. Dortmund is torn between the option of selling him with one year left on his contract or letting him go for free in 2014.
While Lewandowski is set to play what could be his last game for Dortmund on Saturday, Goetze will miss out after failing to recover from the hamstring injury sustained 12 minutes into the semifinal second leg at Real Madrid.
Dortmund routed Bayern 5-2 in last year's German Cup final with Goetze on the bench, however.
It was that defeat, and the shock of losing the Champions League final on penalties to Chelsea - in its own stadium - that has fueled Bayern's determination this season.
The club's dominance has not been restricted to the Bundesliga. Bayern faces Stuttgart in the German Cup final on June 1.
First though, Bayern turns its attention to winning its fifth European Cup.
Jupp Heynckes' side dispatched Juventus and Barcelona by a combined score of 11-0 over four matches to reach Bayern's third final in four years.
Dortmund is bidding to repeat its 1997 triumph from its only previous final. Then, as now, the team surrendered back-to-back Bundesliga titles to Bayern and lost its last league game 2-1 at home. In 1997, Stuttgart won the German Cup.
"When everything happens that you couldn't believe, then it must be a fairytale,'' Klopp said.
His counterpart will be hoping for a fairytale ending to his tenure at Bayern. The 68-year-old Heynckes has two games left to complete a remarkable treble before former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola takes over.