Chelsea and Bayern Munich will be facing in Champions League final in a day’s time. TheHardTackle takes a look at some famous matches between English and German sides in UCL era, featuring the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund.
Despite often being dismissed as a rivalry which is hyped only on the west of English Channel the matches between English and German teams are one of the more eagerly awaited fixtures in world football. The German national team has triumphed multiple times over their English counterparts in last four decades but the battle is closer in club football. EPL and Bundesliga have consistently figured in top-4 of UEFA rankings and teams form both leagues have faced each other many times. Some of these encounters have been particularly memorable.
Only matches of Champions League era have been considered. List is in chronological order.
Leeds United 4-1 VFB Stuttgart (First Round, 1992/93)
The inaugural season of Champions League saw one of its most bizarre two legged ties when English champions Leeds United squared off against German champions VFB Stuttgart. Both clubs had clinched their domestic titles after a nail biting finish but few expected the type of fireworks this match produced.
After a goal less first half in Stuttgart, Fritz Walter, German top scorer in VFB’s title winning season struck twice between 60th and 70th minutes. Christophe Daume’s side ensured that they took a healthy lead to England with Andreas Buck adding a third six minutes before final whistle.
Sir Alex Ferguson once identified Elland Road as the most intimidating stadium to play in and the return leg attested his statement. Few expected Howard Wilkinson’s side to overturn the deficit but it was one of those special nights. Gary McAllister tried his luck with back to back long rangers in opening minutes. Gary Speed opened the account for Leeds on 17th minute only to see Buck cancel it out 16 minutes later. It was a kick in the guts, an away goal but Leeds refused to give up. A McAllister penalty ensured teams went into the break with Leeds leading 2-1. Second half goals from Cantona and Lee Chapman meant Leeds had ten minutes to grab a sensational fifth to qualify. Yet, despite throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at Stuttgart, Leeds failed to find the goal. They were out, Daume conceded that Stuttgart were lucky…
…only to be proven wrong soon. German fans of a rival club observed that Daume had fielded four non-German players in second half – a violation of UEFA rules. The result was scrapped as Leeds was awarded a 3-0 win. During a live match, the second leg would have gone into extra-time in this case. However, since there was no provision for an extra-time, a playoff match was organized, a first. Playing at neutral venue Camp Nou, Leeds United emerged victorious, 2-1, with Carl Shutt scoring the most important goal of his career. This tie remains one of the most unique cases in Champions League history.
Manchester United 0-1 Borussia Dortmund (semi-final, 1996/97)
English clubs struggled to cope with the cream of Europe in post-Heysel world. By mid 1990′s they had notched up some creditable results in the secondary tournaments but their performance in Champions League remained patchy. Everything changed when Man United thrashed Porto 4-0 in 96/97 quarter-final. English clubs had finally “arrived” in the elite European tournament. Facing United in semi-final was Hitzfeld’s Borussia side, which had swatted away French champions Auxerre by a 4-1 margin in quarter-final.
The German champions, missing six first team players, hosted Manchester United in the first leg. The Red Devils dominated in second half but were unlucky not to take the lead. Two Cantona masterminded moves saw Nicky Butt his shot denied by the framework while Beckham forced a sharp save from the rival ‘keeper. A giant slice of luck and a defelected René Tretschok shot saw Borussia carry a slim lead to Old Trafford.
An early goal from Lars Ricken tipped the balance of the tie towards Dortmund in the return leg. Manchester United continuously probed Borussia defence but were unable to get past an impregnable Jurgen Kohler in defence. The German defender made one of the most crucial blocks in the match by clearing the ball off line, denying Cantona. The match ended with a win for Borussia after one of the finest defensive displays ever shown by a German side in Europe. Kohler received a standing ovation from Old Trafford faithful.
Hitzfeld’s team’s ability to earn results would once again come to forefront in final when Borussia defeated Juventus to lift their first Champions league title.
Bayern Munich 1-2 Manchester United (Final, 1998/99)
Never rule out the Germans, the cliché goes. Football is a game which is always won by Germans, goes another cliché. Alex Ferguson (not a “Sir” then) clearly didn’t believe in either of them. Matches between English teams and German teams have seen many memorable comebacks but Manchester United’s comeback at Camp Nou in 1999 is truly a stuff of legends. Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Bayern Munich and Sir Alex’s Red Devils were vying for the mantle of the best team in Europe with the era of Marcelo Lippi’s Juventus coming to an end. Both clubs were placed in Group B, along with van Gaal’s Barcelona and their head to head matches had ended in draws. In semi-final, Bayern clawed their way back from 3-1 down to earn a 3-3 away draw against Valeriy Lobanosky’s Dynamo Kyiv side and wrapped up the tie after a clinical 1-0 home win. Manchester United’s path was more difficult. A late Ryan Giggs goal ensured a 1-1 home draw against Juventus and they trailed 2-0 in Turin within first 12 minutes. A spectacular comeback saw the Red Devils snatch a 2-3 win but they lost Roy Keane and Paul Scholes to suspensions.
Without two influential players, Manchester United struggled against Bayern in the final as they were over-run in the midfield. With Mario Bassler putting the Bavarians ahead on 6th minute it seemed as if Bayern would have a walk in the park. A dominant Bayern side forced a number of top drawer saves from Peter Schmeichel while Mehmet Scholl and Kirsten Jancker saw their shots bounce off the goalpost.
The match was turned on its head in what is easily the most famous spell of injury time in history of the game. With the clock reading 90:36, Teddy Sheringham scored an equalizer as Bayern received a jolt. They were still recovering from the shock when Ole “Baby faced assassin” Solskjaer scored the match winner on 92:17. Lothar Mathaus, a man who had seen it all in his career, stood on the touchline wide mouthed as Manchester United celebrated their first European Cup in three decades, perfectly summing up the situation.
Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 Liverpool (Quarter-Final, 2001/02)
Frizzy haired Klaus Topmoller’s Bayer Leverkusen were a sight to behold in 2001/02 season. The German club kept upsetting the odds and denying fans juicy ties they wanted to see. On their way to challenging for a treble and incredibly, coming in second in all three titles Bayer scripted some of their most famous results of all time. They also had an agenda against English clubs. Few expected them to come out of second group stage from a pool containing Juventus, Deportivo and Arsenal but they did, despite shipping in four goals twice.
Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool awaited them in quarter-final. The football world was expecting a Liverpool-Manchester United semi-final and it looked as if they would get their wish granted when Liverpool won 1-0 at Anfield. In Leverkusen, Bayer started attacking from the word go and soon took the lead through a Ballack long ranger. Just before the stroke of half-time a goal from Abel Xavier levelled the score and had the potential to deflate Bayer, who now needed to win 3-1 to qualify.
Credit must be given to Topmoller for keeping his side focused as Bayer came out firing on all cylinders in second half. Michael Ballack, who was now tipped to be the next German superstar, headed in Bayer’s second goal on 64th minute. Game on. Four minutes later Bayer scored their coveted third goal. Dietmar Hamman’s injury left them open on the counter as Dimitar Berbatov beat Dudek.
Liverpool were looking towards an exit but there was a final twist. On 79th minute the legendary Jari Litmannen produced a moment of individual brilliance to score a vital away goal. Suddenly the Reds were looking at a spot in last four. However, their hopes were dashed five minutes later as Lucio sneaked in with Bayer’s fourth.
Bayer would go on to knock Manchester United out from the semi-final, preventing yet another dream match between Red Devils and Real Madrid in final. They would finally run out of steam in the final with Zidane scoring ‘that’ goal.
Chelsea 4-2 Bayern Munich (Quarter-Final, 2004/05)
Chelsea played like a team with a point to prove in 2004/05 season. Under Jose Mourinho, the Blues had the strongest squad in club’s recent history and they were looking to carve out a niche for themselves in UCL. They made short work of defending champions Porto in group stages and knocked out another stellar name, Barcelona in first knock-out round after a classic tie. Waiting for them in quarter-final was another behemoth – FC Bayern, who had knocked out Arsenal.
Jose Mourinho was serving a 2 match ban when Chelsea welcomed Bayern in the first leg. However, the Portuguese had oiled the blue machine well enough. Before Felix Magath’s team realized what had hit them the Blues took the lead. Joe Cole’s opening strike was cancelled out by Schweinsteiger in second half as Bayern got a vital away goal. However, Chelsea was not to be denied on that night. A breathtaking ten minute spell from the Blues, starting at the hour mark, saw them race to a 3-1 lead. Frank Lampard rose to the ocassion with two goals, the second one being a brilliant individual strike. Didier Drogba’s famous big match abilities were exposed on the 81st minute as Chelsea scored the fourth. Their perfect night was slightly dampened by a late Ballack goal deep into injury time.
Chelsea lost the away leg 3-2 thanks to two late goals but they had done enough in the first leg to guarantee their second concecutive Champions League semi-final. They never trailed in the tie till Mehmet Scholl’s late winner in Munich. Roman Abrahamovic wanted to make a statement to the eastablished European powers and Chelsea had done just that.
Will the upcoming final between Chelsea and Bayern turn into another classic match? Only time will tell.