K E I R R A D N E D G E a t W E M B L E Y
—– Certainly neither Jupp Heynckes nor Jurgen Klopp talked philosophy when they prepared the players of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund for tonight’s UEFA Champions League Final.
But a very particular social philosophy underpins the dramatic rise of the Bundesliga over the past 10 years and has resulted in what Hegel defined as “absolute idealism” expressed on the Wembley turf tonight.
That is, two German teams commanding the climactic clash in European football’s elite club competition.
Averaging just over 42,000 per match, the Bundesliga has the highest attendance figures in the world with some of the most reasonable prices: a ‘safe standing’ season ticket at Bayern’s AllianzArena costs E120.
This is the first all-German final after domestic duels between clubs from Italy, Spain and England and notable in that Dortmund very nearly bankrupt just eight years ago. Ironically they owed their survival, in part, to financial help from Bayern.
Uli Hoeness, tax-evading president of Bayern, explained the gesture thus: “It was not charity, it was important for us. We have to have great teams to play against to make us great. So, OK it helped Dortmund when they needed it, but it was also in our own interest.”
Hoeness has kept an uncharacteristic low profile in the run-up to Wembley after losing so dramatically and publicly his status as Angel Merkel’s favourite businessman.
Bayern are favourites after their record-breaking season which has brought runaway success in the Bundesliga and a place in next weekend’s cup final.Dortmundare the neutrals’ favourites. This status owes much to the outgoing personality of coach Jurgen Klopp.
His own philosophy is rather more momentary than that of Hegel. Klopp said: “If this is my only final and I die in 60 years, it won’t have been so bad.”
His thinking may be influenced by the transitory nature of Dortmund’s squad. They lost Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa to Manchester United last summer and must sell attacking starlet Mario Gotze to Bayern after Wembley; perhaps it is a relief for everyone that a groin injury keeps him sidelined.
Klopp says: “Football is a religion in Dortmund. Bayern may have won a lot of fans and a lot of trophies because of the incredible number of good decisions they have made, but now there is another story. Along has come another club that is pretty good as well.
“We do have money to get good players. But there are other clubs who can spend more money. We have to take a different position.”
Dortmund were champions of Europe against the odds and Juventus in 1997; they beat Real Madrid against the odds in this season’s semi-final. After the match Klopp described his team as the “Robin Hood of football.”
Dortmund’s arrows will have to fly straighter than ever this time around. The sheriffs of Munich lost the final to Inter in 2010 and to Chelseain 2012. One day soon they know their luck must turn.