BERLIN – Bayern Munich have had one thing on their mind all year – winning the Champions League in front of their home fans, and while that obsession may have cost them the Bundesliga crown it will all have been worthwhile if they are crowned kings of Europe on May 19.
The Bavarians, four-times European champions, can become the first team from a host city to lift the Champions League trophy in their own stadium and nowhere was their determination and dominance more visible this season than in the elite tournament.
Their one-track mind may have cost them the Bundesliga title as Borussia Dortmund, who were eliminated from the competition at the group stage, snatched a second consecutive league title.
Bayern, however, had bigger fish to fry and that mindset was evident in the way they approached their knock-out matches in the Champions League.
While results in the German league were erratic to say the least, their performances on the big European stage were sublime.
Basel and Olympique Marseille were brushed aside while their first leg against Real Madrid was crowned by a last minute Mario Gomez goal for a 2-1 victory, setting the foundations for their second final appearance in three seasons.
They needed penalties to eliminate Real after losing by the same score in Madrid.
“This is a dream come true,” said Gomez, who has scored 12 Champions League goals this season. “I am just speechless. To advance in this kind of atmosphere on penalties is the most beautiful thing in the world.”
Even Bayern President Uli Hoeness, who had warned of a difficult group stage that included Manchester City, Villareal and Napoli, was left beaming.
“I thought I was going to die. This was a highlight match that you get to see only a few times in your life,” said the former Bayern player and manager, who can now top a stunning career at the club with a European trophy under his presidency.
“The biggest thing in football is a World Cup final or a Champions League final on home soil and we have done that,” he said.
While most observers felt the semi-final against Madrid was too close to call, Bayern’s fans were in no doubt who would win. The club said one million fans had applied for Champions League final tickets before the second leg in Spain.