Bayern Munich are preparing to face Borussia Dortmund in the final of the UEFA Champions League at Wembley. After losing last season's final on penalties to Chelsea at their own Allianz Arena, Jupp Heynckes' side have always appeared to be men on a mission in 2012/13.
It all began by finishing as Group F winners ahead of Valencia, Lille and BATE Borisov, despite an early, shock defeat by the latter. Impressive knockout stage wins over Arsenal, Juventus and, famously, Barcelona then followed. Here, Sky Sports remembers a fine campaign to date.
Last season's defeated finalists, Bayern, got their Group F campaign off to the perfect start with a 2-1 win over Valencia at the Allianz Arena on 19th September, 2012. Goals from Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos sealed the three points. But the spoils were shared in a 1-1 draw when they met again at the Mestalla on 20th November, 2012. Thomas Muller's late goal meant both teams booked a place in the last 16. Despite reaching the knockout stages, Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes was disappointed with the performance of his side, as he admitted: "We just were not able to penetrate their back four. Unfortunately my team did not manage to make the most of its superiority with good positioning to create chances to score goals."
Bayern fell to a shock 3-1 defeat by BATE Borisov in Belarus in their second group game on 2nd October, 2012. Franck Ribery's injury-time strike had threatened to spark a comeback. The tables were then turned when the sides met in Germany two months later, with Bayern racking up a 4-1 win. Goals from Mario Gomez, Muller, Xherdan Shaqiri and David Alaba saw Heynckes' men secure top spot in their group. After winning the group, Heynckes was pleased with what he saw, as he said: "Our primary goal was to win the game and thus finish at the top of the group. We did that in an impressive manner. I think we can be satisfied with the performance."
Thomas Muller's 20th minute penalty sealed a 1-0 win over Lille in France in Bayern's third group game on 23rd October, 2012. Bayern then put in another commanding performance to win 6-1 at the Allianz Arena on 7th November, 2012 as they moved to the top of Group F. A first-half hat-trick from Claudio Pizarro complimented by goals from Schweinsteiger, Arjen Robben and Kroos condemned the French side to their heaviest defeat in Europe. A jubilant Heynckes said after the 6-1 win: "This performance will only fuel the euphoria. But I think you have to put this match into perspective. Our first-half performance was outstanding and very fluent. However, you also have to take into consideration that our opponents were not really all there today."
Goals from Kroos, Muller and Mario Mandzukic helped Bayern to a classy 3-1 win over Arsenal at Emirates Stadium in the first leg on 19th February, 2013 as they put one foot in the quarter-finals. They then fell to a rare home defeat when Arsene Wenger's side ran out 2-0 winners at the Allianz Arena in the second leg on 13th March, 2013. But the Germans progressed to the last eight by virtue of away goals. After the 3-1 defeat, Wenger was full of praise for Bayern, as he explained: "We played against a team with a lot of class. At points in the first half, they played better than us. Bayern are a very efficient team, they make the most of the chances they create."
In the quarter finals, Italian giants Juventus' 18-game unbeaten run came to an end as Bayern were 2-0 winners in the first leg at the Allianz Arena on 2nd April, 2013 thanks to goals from Alaba and Muller. The second leg on 10th April, 2013 had the same outcome but this time it was goals from Mandzukic and Pizarro who inspired Heynckes' side to another 2-0 win, sealing a place in the semi-finals. Following the away win, Heynckes remained grounded, as he said: "We are having a very good season with some fantastic displays.
An eye-catching performance saw Bayern stun Europe and ease past Barcelona in the first leg with a 4-0 win at the Allianz Arena on 23rd April, 2013. A double from Muller as well as goals from Gomez and Robben guided the German champions to one of the displays of the tournament. They continued to turn on the style in the second leg on 1st May, 2013 with a 3-0 win as they clinched a place in the final for the third time in four seasons. After the first leg, Heynckes said his side were spurred on by previous heartaches in the competition: "Falling short of success in the past two years has only made them hungrier to win this year."
Who will win the 2013 Champions League final?