I would love to have strapped an EKG monitor to fans of either side during the 2013 Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
It was exhausting from a neutral perspective; imagine what being a fan of that marathon would have been like?
And yet, that’s what we all hope and pray for – for the match to live up to the hype.
A game featuring two bitter German rivals, it had every storyline, every angle anyone could dream of. It was a media member’s salivary gland. It featured defection (Gotze), underdog (Dortmund), retirement (Heynckes), redemption (Bayern’s two previous losses), hometown loyalty (Lahm/Reus), past failures (Robben), validation (follow-up to the semifinals), and plenty more.
Almost always, a game with so much pre-match hype never lives up to the ridiculous expectations set by the public dissection of what will happen on and off the pitch.
Except this time, it didn’t. It did the impossible. Despite all the hype, it still made me turn off the TV and just go “…..whoa.”
The first half of the Champions League final was maybe the most bonkers 0-0 half of soccer you’ll ever watch. Neuer and Weidenfeller both made world-class saves. It had blasted shots, it had slicing passes, it had crunching tackles, it had face saves, it had Franck Ribery blood vessels.
The second half, though, was where it all came together. Or fell apart. Or made you want to take a nap. Depends on your point of view.
The second half featured shots, more shots (29 altogether in the match), penalties, goals that counted, goals that didn’t count, a goal-line clearance, an ankle stomp, a beautiful backheel assist, more angry Riberys, and a crying Arjen Robben.
That’s not even including the 89th minute goal that won the Champions League, erasing 3 years of personal and team heartbreak.
What saved the match from being a completely draining watch was the relatively good refereeing. The fact Dante wasn’t sent off after his kick to the groin of Marco Reus was a bit of a head-scratcher, but then again his first yellow card was quite soft, so it evened out. Otherwise, there can be hardly a complaint, which is wonderful to see in a game where refereeing is often at the forefront. Hats off to you, Nikola Rizzoli.
Robben said after the match, “It’s so many emotions.” We feel you, Arjen, we feel you.
Whatever your emotion, whatever your angle towards this match, one thing is for certain: you’re going to need some sleep.