The UEA Champions League Final is set with an All-German affair between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich set to take place at Wembley on May 25.
Dortmund held off a fast-finishing Real Madrid to book their place with a 4-3 aggregate win this week.
Bayern built on their 4-0 rout of Barcelona in the first leg, netting three times at the Camp Nou to finish with a staggering 7-0 aggregate victory.
Their victory was the biggest margin of victory in a Champions League semifinal and marked the first time that two German teams will meet in the European final.
Bayern Munich have recorded the biggest semi-final aggregate win (7-0) in Champions League history5/1/2013, 8:33:56 PM
For the first time in Champions League/European Cup history there will be an all-German final #bayern #bvb5/1/2013, 8:35:59 PM
And whilst we might be several weeks away from the big game itself, already there's several fascinating storylines emerging for the final on May 25.
Those will no doubt play themselves out in the next few weeks as the game is broken down and scrutinized from every possible angle. But they'll play a huge role in understanding which team will emerge victorious from the European final in 2013.
What are the biggest storylines to keep an eye on over the next few weeks?
Read on and find out.
Mario Gotze's Pending Transfer to Bayern Munich
Attacking midfielder Mario Gotze has been simply superb for Dortmund—particularly over the past two seasons—and has been pertinent to their success in 2013.
However, with Bayern Munich activating the buyout clause in his contract (reportedly over £30 million), the star playmaker is set for a move over the summer transfer window to the very club that he'll be playing against only days before in the Champions League Final.
Gotze, even at the age of 20, is a professional and won't let that affect him in the game. But it will be interesting to see how it affects Dortmund on the night.
They handled it very well when they played Madrid the next day and survived without his presence against Los Blancos in the second leg. But knowing it's his last game, and knowing that he'll be going to arguably their biggest rivals, could well give Dortmund an extra advantage in this one.
And there's the interesting thought of Gotze being the man to knock his new teammates out of contention for a European title, which is a very fascinating idea to consider as well.
How will Jurgen Klopp and Jupp Heynckes' Rivalry Play Out?
Both are task-masters who demand perfection from their sides. And both have seen exactly that from their squads throughout the European competition this season.
These are two strong-willed managers of their respective clubs. So when Jurgen Klopp's Dortmund takes on Jupp Heynckes' Bayern, don't expect it to be all smiles and niceties from the respective camps—especially in the leadup to the final itself.
Dortmund no doubt think that Bayern had something to do with the "coincidental" release of Gotze's transfer news. Klopp indirectly fired back with a subtle shot at the departing manager, saying that Gotze "was the player that Pep Guardiola wanted to sign" and that Bayern would not have been able to take Gotze away from Dortmund if it wasn't for Guardiola's arrival.
The two also exchanged some fierce words earlier in the season when Dortmund lost to Bayern, with Klopp complaining of Bayern's tactics (per Sky Sports):
[Regarding Bayern Munich buying players for success]: "At the moment, it's a bit like what the Chinese do with industry. They look at what the others are doing and imitate it, but with more money and different players..."
Heynckes quickly fired back at Klopp, however, stating that he'd know it all worked if Klopp was ever able to manage a "big club" like Bayern Munich.
When Juergen one day gets the pleasure of coaching Bayern Munich or Real Madrid, he will realise what it means and how much it is a completely different world. Maybe then he will see things a little differently. Bayern has existed for longer than Juergen Klopp has been a coach and have always had their own style of playing. It's very important to show dignity in victory, and especially in defeat.
How the managers speak about each other and their respective teams over the next few weeks remains one of the more fascinating storylines to follow.
Amuse-Bouche of the Final This Weekend
All of that could play out this weekend in Bundesliga when Bayern Munich are scheduled to make the trip to the Westfalenstadion and take on Dortmund.
The Bavarians have already won the German league title—and broken pretty much every record along the way—but they have had trouble beating Klopp's sides in years gone by. They will likely have a very difficult time away from home this weekend.
Now both sides will surely rest a host of players and roll out their "reserve" sides for this one. Part of that will be for injury concerns, but they'll also not want to give the other side an early glance at any tactics that they might impart.
However, I'd dispute that final point. I think that both Heynckes and Klopp won't be able to help themselves and will try to get another look at any perceived weaknesses.
These two teams know each other very well, and thus know each other's strengths and potential holes.
And they will no doubt show that this weekend.
They always play very close games, making it a thrilling to watch and see the small preview that it provides for the Champions League. It won't be a complete preview, given that players will be rested, but is a nice little appetizer before the main meal in a few weeks.
And who's going to say no to an amuse-bouche this good?
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