The heartbreaking way in which they lost last season’s Champions League final has helped Bayern Munich steel themselves for this campaign, according to manager Jupp Heynckes.
Bayern face Barcelona tomorrow night armed with a 4-0 semi-final first-leg advantage and are odds-on favourites to make the Wembley showpiece next month.
Doing so would be a remarkable achievement given how last year’s tournament ended up. Technically at home to Chelsea in a Munich final, Heynckes men were beaten on penalties as their dream fell apart around them.
But, once the debris was swept up, Bayern regrouped and marched their way back to the brink of European glory.
“When you experience a final like we did against Chelsea, then you understand all the consequences,” Heynckes said.
“Some clubs give up, but everyone at Bayern reacted in a very positive way. We made changes, signed good players, modified some things and strengthened the team spirit.”
Regardless of Barcelona’s prowess and standing as the best team of their generation, Bayern are not expected to be overturned tonight.
For Heynckes, though, the challenge is to prove that last week’s result was not a one-off.
“We have our culture and we are capable of scoring goals tomorrow at the Camp Nou,” he said in his pre-match media conference. Bayern want to prove that the match in Munich wasn’t a one-off.”
A minor cold for defender Dante is the sum of Heynckes fitness worries heading to Catalonia.
They seem better equipped this time, and midfielder general Bastian Schweinsteiger agrees. “I think we have a great team compared to last season and all the players are fit for the match,” he said. “If we score one or two goals we know it’ll be even tougher for Barcelona. If we have the chance to attack, we will.”
One note of concern for Bayern is that Philipp Lahm, Javi Martinez, Dante, Luis Gustavo and Mario Gomez are a caution away from a one-match ban that would rule them out of the final.