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Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich: Five key battles ahead of the UEFA Champions League final

Where will the European Cup trophy be won and lost at Wembley this evening?

Arguably the biggest day in the football calendar has finally come around as Borussia Dortmund get set to face Bayern Munich in an all-German Champions League Final.

Excitement is building ahead of the game at Wembley and in London the city has been painted yellow and red as these two pillars of German football face off once again; but this time on the biggest stage.

Bayern come into the game as favourites after an incredible season and Jurgen Klopp’s men are not helped by the absence of Bayern-bound midfielder Mario Gotze; who is absent through injury.

Picking just where exactly this game will be won and lost is almost impossible as many key battles take shape in the fixture.

Bender v Muller, Piszczek v Ribery, Blasczycowski v Alaba, Grosskreutz v Lahm; there is certainly plenty of little individual battles on the hallowed Wembley turf this evening that will decide the overall destination of the European Champion Clubs’ Cup.

But here are the five match-ups we feel will be the most defining ahead of tonight’s massive game…

Ilkay Gundogan v Bastian Schweinsteiger

While many will feel the loss of Gotze means the loss of Dortmund’s pendulum they would be wrong; as everything Klopp gets his free-spirited side to do comes via Gundogan in the midfield.

Dortmund are so fast at turning defence to attack; something the likes of Manchester City and Real Madrid could testify and it is largely down to this man’s poise and quick thinking on the turnaround.

But Bayern have a similar but more experienced model in Schweinsteiger. The Bayern man will be tasked with not allowing his German international colleague to evade his attentions.

Whoever wins this individual battle may control the game; making this likely the most important battle of the lot.

Marcel Schmelzer v Arjen Robben

Cynical pundits often credit Dortmund’s left-back as being the weak link in the side and if they are to be proven correct tonight it will be via Robben’s exploitation.

The Dutchman appears to be ageing backwards and is looking to finally pick up the Cup on the third attempt. You can bet he will try to cut in onto that trademark left-foot of his and Schmelzer would probably be best sending him to the by-line.

But that appears to be easier said than done.

Marco Reus v Javi Martinez

With Gotze injured the role of playmaker is passed to the man who rejected Bayern in January 2012. Reus has caught the eye with his splendid dribbling ability and quick passing this season but whether he can directly influence the game may depend largely on the attention he receives from the Spaniard.

I would argue that Martinez has taken Bayern to the next level this year and his two performances against Barcelona in the semi-finals have to be two of the most accomplished I have ever seen at this stage.

If he can utilise his energetic and stylish rhythm of play to disrupt Reus’ then Dortmund may have to rely on the wide-men.

Robert Lewandowski v Jerome Boateng

This looks likely to be the Pole’s last ever game for BVB and he will want to go out with a bang.

For Boateng this season has been a landmark campaign but Lewandowski has certainly outfoxed much better a defender than the former Manchester City man recently.

One chance is usually all he needs and Boateng or Dante would do well not to give it to him; as Lewandowski has match-winner oozing from his body.

Roman Weidenfeller v Manuel Neuer

An odd choice perhaps but this battle’s magnification comes more in hope than expectation.

With the style of football these two teams both implement it should be guaranteed to be an exciting end-to-end encounter with plenty of goalmouth action.

At the end of the day which ever custodian has a better day at the office may just end up deciding the location of the trophy.

Where do you think the Champions League Final will be won and lost?


images: © (Mick Baker)rooster, © (Mick Baker)rooster

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