Bayern Munich, Hamburg and Borussia Dortmund: Germany’s European champions
Jürgen Klopp has finally got the monkey off his back in winning the UEFA Champions League, but the former Borussia Dortmund head coach is far from the first German to have conquered Europe.
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Bayern Munich (2012/13)
After losing the 2012 final on their own patch to Chelsea on penalties, Bayern had a score to settle the following campaign. Jupp Heynckes’ side topped Group F ahead of Valencia, BATE Borisov and Lille before scraping past Arsenal on away goals in the last 16. There were no fine margins involved en route to the final, though, as Bayern routed Juventus 4-0 and shook the European game to its very foundation with a 7-0 aggregate demolition of Lionel Messi’s Barcelona. Bundesliga rivals Dortmund, coached at the time by Klopp, played their part in a thrilling final at Wembley Stadium – the first ever between two German sides – but Bayern prevailed 2-1 thanks to Arjen Robben’s redemptive late winner. A 3-2 win in the DFB Cup final a week later saw the Reds complete an unprecedented treble.
It wasn’t the first time Bayern had feasted on the opposition with all the ferocity of a wounded lion. Twelve years earlier, the class of 2001 were still coming to terms with their agonising 1999 final defeat to Manchester United when they pipped Paris Saint-Germain to top spot in Group F. Ottmar Hitzfeld’s ensemble were the only German team left in the competition as they ploughed through the field in the now defunct second group stage to set up a showdown with old foes Man Utd. Bayern duly lay the ghost of 99 to rest with a comfortable 3-1 aggregate win – a scoreline they repeated to oust defending champions Real Madrid in the last four. Giovane Elber scored in both ties, but Oliver Kahn was the hero of the final at Milan’s San Siro, saving three Valencia penalties in the decisive shoot-out after the game had ended 1-1 after 120 minutes. Kahn was mobbed by the red shirts, but showed his softer side when he broke character to console distraught opposite number, Santiago Canizares, who had crumpled to the ground in floods of tears. The gesture earned ‘The Titan’ the UEFA Fair Play award, while Hitzfeld celebrated his second European crown as a coach.
Borussia Dortmund (1996/97)
Hitzfeld’s first came in the Dortmund dugout in 1997. Reigning Bundesliga champions and Germany’s only representative in the then 16-club competition, BVB finished second behind Atletico Madrid on goal difference in Group B, but in doing so avoided 95 winners and the previous year’s beaten finalists, Ajax, in the quarter-finals. Instead, the Black-Yellows took out France’s Auxerre (4-1 on agg.) before securing a pair of 1-0 victories over Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man Utd in the semi-finals to set up a final with holders Juventus. Jürgen Kohler, Andreas Möller and Paulo Sousa had all played for the Italians against Dortmund in a two-legged UEFA Cup final humbling four years earlier, but there was to be no repeat showing. Eighteen-year-old substitute Lars Ricken scored the pick of the goals with an audacious chip over the head of Angelo Peruzzi as BVB ran out 3-1 winners to become the first German side to get their hands on ‘old big ears’ in the competition’s revamped guise as the Champions League. Victory was all the sweeter, coming as it did at the home of Bundesliga rivals, Bayern.
Juventus should have know better, having come a cropper against so-called German underdogs in 1983. A team including Paulo Rossi, Michel Platini and Dino Zoff were supposed to brush aside unfancied Hamburg in Athens, but the gods conspired against Giovanni Trapattoni’s men as they became victims of their own Greek tragedy. Future managerial whip-cracker Felix Magath scored the only goal after just eight minutes as Juve joined Dynamo Berlin, Olympiakos, Dynamo Kviv and Real Sociedad on the Red Shorts’ list of continental conquests. The triumph was the jewel in a golden era for the Dinos, who – coached by legendary Austrian coach Ernst Happel – also claimed their third Bundesliga title in the space of five years that season.
Speaking of halcyon days, it was in the mid-1970s that Bayern cemented their status as a bona fide European football powerhouse. The first German outfit to lift the European Cup in 1974 after forcing a final replay against Atletico Madrid courtesy of a last-gasp Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck goal, they went on to defend the title twice with wins over Leeds United and Saint-Etienne. The likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller, Sepp Maier were the standout names for an omnipotent ensemble that also provided the backbone of West Germany’s 1972 UEFA European Championship and 1974 FIFA World Cup triumphs. For many, the 70s vintage – coached by Udo Lattek and later Dettmer Cramer – are the very best Bayern ever.