German football legend Franz Beckenbauer believes Borussia Dortmund can only win Saturday’s Champions League final if its opponent Bayern Munich has a bad day.
In an interview, the honorary president of Bayern Munich said that his club was slight favourite for the match in Wembley Stadium.
“Bayern have dominated the Bundesliga and have played at consistently high level throughout. However, even if a final is a different situation, Dortmund will only win if Bayern has a bad day.
“It is certainly a possibility to show the world that German club football is alive, that it has caught up. I would love a score of 2-2 or 3-3 and Bayern wins in the penalty shoot-out. That would be a highly dramatic game and the world would speak about the match for years to come.”
Beckenbauer, which won the Champions League three time as a player with Bayern in the 70s, said that the final was an opportunity for individual players to stake their claim to become ‘World Footballer’.
“The dominance of both sides might result in a re-think for some of those voting for the World Footballer. Such a final is the best place to showcase your ability as the whole world is watching.
“There are several players who could fit that bill. Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are known. There is an opportunity for Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Goetze, if he plays, though I am confident that Dortmund will manage to get him fit in time. Or also Marco Reus. There are players who could become World Footballer. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are also measured according to their international successes — or non-successes. It would be a good opportunity to show that the Germans have taken over the lead.”
He said he did not think that Bayern’s defeats in the 2010 and 2012 Champions League finals would have a bearing on Saturday’s game. “The team has change, new players have arrived and they have not won much internationally, they are hungry for success. They do not look back at the past, they look towards the future.
“It would be great to face Chelsea (who beat Bayern in last year's Champions League final) in the Super Cup final. That would close the circle and be fitting.”
Beckenbauer said that it was difficult to compare the Bayern team from the 70s with that of today.
“The team in the 70s was Bayern’s peak. We won the league three times in a row and won the Champions League three times in a row in a time when only the champions could participate in the competition. Germany won the European Championships with six Bayern players and the World Cup with six Bayern players. You can't really achieve much more.”
Beckenbauer, who is a former executive member of football’s controlling body FIFA, said that the first all-German Champions League final could be an indication that German football is becoming the strongest in the world and take over from Spain. “I think the shift from Spain to Germany has already taken place in club football. If the same has happened at a national team level? It would be nice. The majority of the players in the team would be from Bayern and Dortmund. There is certainly an opportunity to take over from Spain.”
Beckenbauer said that he had fond memories of Wembley Stadium, where he played with Germany in the 1966 World Cup final. “That was at the start of my career and in a way English football helped me with my career.”
The 67-year-old, who is one of two footballers who won the World Cup both as a player and a coach, has taken on a new role as patron for the Football for Friendship project run by a Russian energy company.
“I like the idea that a huge company not only thinks in terms of economics and sponsors teams, but that they also use money for social ideas. This project attempts to teach the values of football: Unity, tolerance, respect for each other. There is nothing nicer than to do that with young people.
“Wembley is the beginning. 670 children and youth from eight countries are being invited. They are all young footballers who have an opportunity to get together with different nationalities and possibly form friendships. If not for this opportunity, they would have watched the game in Bulgaria or Slovenia. Now they will be at the game and remember it for the rest of their lives. Some of these kids have never left their country and now their first trip abroad takes them to the Champions League final. That is spectacular.”