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Analysis: Bayern wash away their European woes at Wembley

After last season’s heartbreak, the Bavarians won a fifth European Cup title to confirm their status as the continent’s best side.

Phillipp Lahm lifts the trophy.
Phillipp Lahm lifts the trophy.
Image: Martin Rickett/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE PERFECT SEASON, the most perfect of endings.

Bayern Munich did not just confirm their undeniable status as Europe’s best team and bring an incredible campaign to crescendo. They also washed away away all the woe of the last few years. The relief and release were palpable.

Most notably, Arjen Robben overcame so much personal anguish. At almost the same point in the game that Didier Drogba scored last year to send the Munich final into such a tailspin and make the Dutch forward’s penalty miss so decisive, Robben coolly slotted the winner. More impressively, it came after this final seemed to be following a similar course.

You could have forgiven the number 11 for frantically fluffing that late chance given how poor his previous three one-on-ones his previous. Instead, he illustrated composure, character and outright craft to delicately put the ball the other side of the excellent Roman Weidenfeller.

It was cruel on the goalkeeper given how superbly he had performed throughout, barely slipping once. That in itself illustrated just how complete Bayern’s domination was by that point.

For Dortmund, this was no longer a fairytale. It was a grim test of endurance as their goal was increasingly pounded. Ultimately, it reflected the clear chasm that has grown between the sides.

As utterly exceptional as Dortmund can be when they are at their best, any drop-off will reveal the amount of gaps in that make-up. Too many times here, Robben was left in so much space in their half. In that sense, it perhaps made the winner as inevitable as it was innovative.

For that, though, Dortmund can perhaps also look to the opening half hour. While that saw so many of their finest attributes, it also created a franticness that ensured they overplayed too many attacks. It also left them without reward, as Bayern gradually rose to the challenge.

By the end of the half, Bayern were clearly in the ascendancy. They had survived the onslaught and were now surging forward. It perhaps illustrated that there is more to their game, more elements to their side. On the hour, Robben finally illustrated another element to his game as he squared for Mario Mandzukic instead of shooting. The Croatian gladly headed in the opener.

In fact, it was telling that Dortmund’s equaliser had to come from a reckless Dante challenge rather than a true moment of attacking quality. All their energy had seemed expended in the opening half. The irrepressible Ilkay Gundogan still had enough to slot home.

In truth, Dante should have been off the field by then for a second booking, while Franck Ribery also escaped appropriate punishment for an elbow. On Dortmund’s side, though, Lewandowski illustrated similar petulance on a disappointing night for him.

As Bayern struggled to finish, it seemed they needed a forward of the Pole’s calibre. Instead, Robben showed the quality that has previously been missing on his biggest games.

Now, he’s provided one of the biggest goals in Bayern’s history. They’ve won it five times. Jupp Heynckes has won it twice.

The question, for the squad as a whole, is whether this will be the first of many.

Redemption for Robben as he delivers last-gasp winner

Picture: Bayern Munich fans’ incredible mosaic before kick-off

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