DT’s 2013 Champions League Final adventure

In their third attempt in four years, Bayern Munich finally managed to win a Champions League final, thanks to Arjen Robben’s 89th minute winner (and no thanks to the dozen chances he missed).

This DT writer was lucky enough to return to his home city to witness the first ever all-Bundesliga European Cup Final, and all the accoutrements that surrounded it. Photos were taken (like the one above), videos were shot, non-ironic Lederhosen were witnessed en masse, and a jolly good time was had. Read on to follow DT’s adventure…

At a press event a few days before the match, Michael Ballack successfully feigned interest in a very clever new smart ball that is full of sensors that relay data to an iPhone app. The former Bayern star hit a few sluggers for the watching media, as did the man who was on the winning side when Ballack’s Bayer Leverkusen lost the 2002 Champions League Final, Zinedine Zidane.

The French legend struck the dead ball at a top speed of 61mph. DT later managed 62 mph. Just sayin’.

As you can see, Zizou was more than delighted to take part in a Q&A session. This writer asked him how winning a World Cup Final and a Champions League Final compared, to which the former World Player of the Year gave a slight Gallic shrug and expanded on the tenet that “They are basically the same.”

In the interview session, Ballack also mentioned how important discipline is while playing on the international stage. Thankfully, this wasn’t translated into French for the man sitting next to him, or he would have received the headbutting of a lifetime.

At the Champions Festival adjacent to East London’s Olympic Park, DT spent some time with “ol’ big ears” and his little sister, the women’s Champions League Final trophy. Fans were given the opportunity to pose with the silverware, but there was an Arrested Development-style “No Touching!” rule in place.

Just out of shot in the photo above, full-kit John Terry is putting on his shin guards, getting ready to elbow people out of the way.

Above is a photo of Trafalgar Square a few hours before kick-off, where Dortmund fans have put yellow dye in the fountains. Well, at least we hope it’s dye.

Having spent the week walking the streets of London, it was quite clear that Bayern fans were vastly outnumbered by their BVB counterparts. Dortmund has a population of just over half a million, and it felt like most of them were in the English capital, choosing to watch in local pubs if they didn’t have tickets.

The small outbreaks of violence on Saturday were, in DT’s experience, not indicative of the general nature of visiting German fans. They were affable, polite, and happy to chat to their rivals as they made their way to the game on the Tube.

On Wembley Way, fans were treated to a live inspection of the kind of animal they could expect in the burgers inside the stadium.

Dortmund and Bayern fans were put at opposite ends of the stadium, separated by UEFA guests and the prawn sandwich brigade on each side. BVB fans recreated the Westfalenstadion’s famous Yellow Wall with aplomb, but the Bayern fans did seem to make more noise during the game.

After the traditional irrelevant dance routine and deafening rendition of the Champions League theme, the game started.

Dortmund pushed very high up the field. Franck Ribery fell over a lot. Arjen Robben clearly wasn’t himself (he barely dived and didn’t once cut in and take a long-range shot on his left foot). Mario Götze was probably sitting somewhere with a friendship scarf wrapped around his neck.

Here’s DT’s view of İlkay Gündoğan’s penalty.

Fun fact: if Dortmund had won, their victory party was to be held at the Natural History Museum. Because nothing says “party” like going to a museum.

And finally, DT’s obscured view of the trophy presentation. Somewhere in there, Mario Mandzukic’s medal is falling to the ground.

To rub their long-due Champions League success into the faces of the host nation, Bayern sang the famous refrain from England’s Euro ’96 anthem “Three Lions” as an unsubtle reference to Germany’s Euro ’96 victory at Wembley.

Next week, Bayern get the chance to become the first German team to win the treble. Good luck following that one, Pep.

Thanks to Adidas for being super awesome.

Dirty Tackle – World Soccer – Yahoo! Sports

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