Bayern out to exorcise ghosts of 2012 defeat
Bayern Munich are out to exorcise the ghosts of losing the 2012 Champions League final at home to Chelsea when they take on Borussia Dortmund on Saturday at Wembley for the European title.
This will be Bayern's third European final in four years after the 2-0 defeat in 2010 to Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan in Madrid, then the acute disappointment of losing last May's penalty shoot-out in Munich.
Ever since it was announced in January 2010 that the 2012 final would be held at Bayern's Allianz Arena, the Bavarians had targeted lifting the cup 'dahoam' -- 'at home' in the local dialect.
Having beaten Basel, Marseille and Real Madrid to reach the final, Germany star Thomas Mueller gave the hosts an 83rd-minute lead, putting Bayern on course for their fifth European title.
Until Chelsea ruined Munich's party.
Ivory Coast star Didier Drogba -- on his last appearance in a Blues shirt -- equalised from his team's only corner of the game on 88 minutes, then converted the final penalty as the Londoners won the shoot-out 4-3 to break Bayern's hearts.
"That was also unbelievably brutal, but I have the impression that this is even more bitter, brutal and has superseded that."
The Bavarians came back stronger, adding centre-back Dante and striker Mario Mandzukic to their squad, and brushed aside all-comers to win this season's Bundesliga with a 25-point margin.
They claimed more than two dozen records, including most points (91), most wins (29 of 34 games), biggest goal difference (80+) and fewest goals conceded (18).
They are bidding to become the first German team to win the treble of European, league and cup crowns, but insist the 2012 final disappointment is just a distant memory.
"This is an incredibly stable squad, in its mentality and psychologically," said coach Jupp Heynckes, who will bow out to be replaced by Pep Guardiola after the German Cup final on June 1 against VfB Stuttgart.
"We don't let anything upset us and we have a very clear goal to win the European cup. Nothing will dissuade us from that.
"I have never experienced such a focused team, as a coach or as a player."
"After last season, after such a disappointment, when we were the better team over the 90 minutes, games like that carve out exceptional people and that is what my players are."
Heynckes said losing a second consecutive Champions League final has not entered his head, while Thomas Mueller said dealing with pressure is just part of being a Bayern player.
"The pressure is always there at FC Bayern, regardless of which game, except maybe for our second-leg at Barcelona," he said after Bayern won the return semi-final 3-0 in Spain, after their 4-0 home leg victory.
"Last season, we seldom turned things around when we went behind, but on the few occasions it has happened this year we have reacted well."
Bayern showed their mettle last Saturday when they ran out 4-3 winners having found themselves 3-1 down at Moenchengladbach in the first ten minutes.
Likewise, two goals in the last 17 minutes at home to Fortuna Duesseldorf in March rescued a 3-2 league victory.
Midfield star Bastian Schweinsteiger, who hit the post with Bayern's fifth and final penalty in the 2012 final, said strength in depth is the key difference this time around.
And should he be called up to take another penalty in a possible shoot-out?
"If the coach wants me to, I'll take one," said the 28-year-old, who Heynckes has described as the "best midfielder in the world".
"It's always difficult talking about it and we want to decide the game over 90 minutes, and carry out our plan as well as possible, but if it comes to it, I'm ready."
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