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FCB's imperious march to date with destiny

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FCB's imperious march to date with destiny

Postby FCBayernNews » Wed May 22, 2013 4:10 pm

Bayern are through to the Champions League final for the third time in the last four seasons, but after defeats in 2010 and 2012, the men from Munich are determined to win the trophy this time around. The road to Wembley for FCB featured a total of 12 matches and increasingly emphatic victories over some of the biggest names in the club game. reviews the Reds' path to the final.

Bayern's road to Wembley:

Group F matchday 1, 19 September 2012: FCB 2-1 FC Valencia
Bayern's group stage campaign opened as desired with a 2-1 home success against Valencia, as FCB started out in the Champions League with a win for the ninth time in a row. Bastian Schweinsteiger (38th minute) and Toni Kroos (76) scored for the Reds, who missed several chances to increase the margin. The Spaniards' stoppage time goal from former BVB man Nelson Valdez came too late to affect the outcome. "We dominated the game and absolutely deserved to win," commented FCB chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Group F matchday 2, 2 October 2012: BATE Borisov 3-1 FCB
Germany's biggest club fell to a surprise defeat on their first ever visit to Belarus. In a match moved to capital city Minsk, Borisov proved very awkward opponents. FCB hit the woodwork early and late in the game, but otherwise struggled to prise apart the home team's stubborn defence. Borisov were dangerous on the break too, and won the game with goals from Aleksandr Pavlov (23), Vitali Rodionov (78) and Renan Bressan (90+4). Franck Ribéry pulled one back in stoppage time (90+1). "Their best player was their keeper, so you can see we applied continuous pressure, but at the end of the day we have to recognise our opponents' victory," said Jupp Heynckes.

Group F matchday 3, 23 October 2012: LOSC Lille 0-1 FCB
Heynckes' team fared better in the third group fixture away to French outfit LOSC Lille. A 45,249 crowd at the brand new Grand Stade Lille Métropole saw Bayern shade the 90 minutes without ever moving into overdrive. Thomas Müller netted a 20th-minute penalty to seal the points. "It was tight and the football wasn't great, but I'm still pleased. Winning is what matters away from home," the goalscorer said.

Group F matchday 4, 7 November 2012: FCB 6-1 LOSC Lille
In the reverse fixture at the Allianz Arena two weeks later, red-hot Bayern were an amazing 5-0 up after just 33 minutes, with Claudio Pizarro scoring his first Champions League hat-trick, and Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben adding the other goals against the outclassed visitors. Keeper Mickaël Landreau, LOSC's best player, felt FCB were "from a different planet. I have to say I'm really impressed." Landreau was beaten once more by Toni Kroos, with Salomon Kalou scoring Lille's consolation. "It was a superb game. The goals came at just the right moments. The first half was up there with the best," enthused Robben afterwards.

Group F matchday 5, 20 November 2012: Valencia 1-1 FCB
A draw in Valencia saw Bayern through to the Round of 16 with a game to spare. The clash at Camp de Mestalla was goalless at half-time, before the ten-man home team took a 77th-minute lead through Sofiane Feghouli, only for Thomas Müller (82) to level. Rummenigge was not entirely satisfied. "We can be happy with the result but not with the match," said the chairman, "we need to shift up a gear and put in more effort."

Group F matchday 6, 5 December 2011: FCB 4-1 BATE Borisov
And that's what FCB did in the final group fixture, comfortably overcoming Borisov at the Allianz Arena and winning the group with 13 points. Mario Gomez (22), Thomas Müller (54), Xherdan Shaqiri (66) and David Alaba (83) scored the goals, although Jérôme Boateng was ruled out of the Round of 16 double header due to a 51st-minute red card. Yegor Filipenko netted Borisov's late goal. "We wanted first place and we've got it. We'll be away in the first leg of the last sixteen, and looking at the teams that have come second, we know that can be a positive," Heynckes observed.

Round of 16 first leg, 19 February 2013: Arsenal 1-3 FCB
Some 20 kilometres to the east of Wembley, Heynckes' side sent out a clear message of intent in a 90-minute thriller against Arsenal and planted one foot in the next round with a 3-1 win. Toni Kroos (7) and Thomas Müller (21) crowned a superb first half from the Bavarians, but the Gunners pulled one back through Lukas Podolski after 55 minutes and the match took on an end-to-end character, before Mario Mandzukic wrapped it up 13 minutes from the end. "The first half was straight out of the textbook. You can't play better than that," praised FCB President Uli Hoeneß, "I've never seen a Bayern team play as well as we did in the first half-hour."

Round of 16 second leg, 13 March 2013: FCB 0-2 Arsenal
The return in Munich was by no means the formality many had expected. Olivier Giroud handed the visitors a third-minute lead, and Laurent Koscielny doubled the score four minutes from the end, leaving FCB clinging on to avoid an embarrassing exit. "We've scraped through," admitted Uli Hoeneß. "We've been let off lightly," said Heynckes. Rummenigge spoke of "a final warning shot."

Quarter-final first leg, 2 April 2013: FCB 2-0 Juventus
FCB welcomed Italy's most successful club to the Allianz Arena in the last eight first leg. Alaba (1) and Müller (63) won a quality game for the home team, who were left to contemplate a string of missed chances on an otherwise "super European evening," as Rummenigge put it. The one dark cloud was a season-ending injury to Kroos. "We played high-class football for long spells, which is remarkable against the reigning and future Italian champions," Heynckes analysed.

Quarter-final second leg, 10 April 2012: Juventus 0-2 FCB
The sides met again at the new Juventus Stadium just eight days later, where 41,000 fans were hoping for a notte magica, a magical night. However, the magic came from the in-form visitors, Mario Mandzukic (64) effectively ending the tie as a contest, and Claudio Pizarro adding a stoppage-time second. "Congratulations on a wonderful performance," said Rummenigge. Arjen Robben made an eerily precise prediction: "It starts for real in the semis. Now we'll see fireworks!"

Semi-final first leg, 23 April 2013: FCB 4-0 Barcelona
In the semi-finals, Bayern were drawn to play what Heynckes and Rummenigge described as "the best team in the world," namely Barcelona. And the 68,000 at the Allianz Arena for the first leg witnessed exactly the fireworks Robben had foreseen. "Even I've never experienced an evening like this. It's like a dream," declared Rummenigge after FCB's stunning 4-0 victory over the Catalans. "It's crazy and hard to believe," agreed Robben. Müller scored after 25 and 82 minutes, with Gomez (49) and Robben himself (73) sealing Barcelona's biggest defeat in 16 years, and making Bayern hot favourites to book a place in the final.

Semi-final second leg, 1 May 2013: Barcelona 0-3 FCB
Who would have thought it? Bayern matched or even bettered their efforts in the return a week later, handing Barça a sobering 3-0 defeat on their home Camp Nou patch with goals from Robben (48), a Gerard Piqué own goal (72) and Müller (76), as the Reds secured their third appearance in the final in the last four seasons. "Unbelievable! I'm almost having to pinch myself!" smiled Rummenigge afterwards. "This team can rewrite the Bayern history books this year," continued the chairman, contemplating a possible treble, "and I'm convinced we'll do it!"
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