Lahm, the nearly man, believes in Bayern
Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm is hungry for his first major title after coming close to succeeding so many times before.
Lahm was part of the Bayern team which lost the 2010 UEFA Champions League final, while he captained Germany to third place at the FIFA World Cup South Africa™ just a few months later. Two years before, Lahm was a beaten finalist at the UEFA EURO 2008, and he also had to settle for third place at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Italy too.
Now he wants to go one better with victory over Chelsea in the Champions League final on 19 May to put all the past near-misses behind him. "I have a good feeling," Lahm said. "In 2010, we did not really believe we could do it. We are even more motivated now and have improved. The belief is there that we can win this title."
Bastian Schweinsteiger's career has followed a similar path to Lahm's for club and country and he too is desperate to shrug off the reputation of being a nearly-man. The whole city has been buzzing with anticipation at the thought of the Champions League final with Bayern the first team ever to have home advantage for such a showcase event, and the midfielder believes that can be their inspiration.
"It is practically the only thing people in Munich are talking about," Schweinsteiger told the city's Abendzeitung newspaper. "Wherever you go, all you hear is people telling us that we can do it."
People will be talking about the 19 May final for many years to come, no matter what the outcome. Bayern received over a million requests for just 17,500 tickets, and the successful applicants were being delivered the good news today while many more will be left disappointed.
Desperate for European glory
Lahm does not want to be disappointed come the night of the match though, as he admits he may not get such a good opportunity again in his career. "We don't have much more time left," said the 28-year-old. "If you want to go down as being a golden generation then you have got to win titles internationally."
If Bayern get another chance to win the Champions League in the next few years, Arjen Robben should also be involved having ended speculation about his personal future by penning a new three-year contract today. The former Chelsea forward echoed the views of his team-mates by stressing that Bayern will be better prepared this time around.
His string of wonder goals sent Fiorentina, Manchester United and Lyon tumbling two years ago, but he, like his team-mates, froze against Inter Milan and he believes that experience will serve them well. "We were not 100 per cent focused back then," Robben recalled. "We did not play our game. We lost unnecessarily, but you lose games like that and put it down to experience. This time, that will not be the case."
Unlike then, when Bayern had already sealed a league and cup double, the record German champions may go into the game without any trophy to show for their efforts this year. They have already missed out on the Bundesliga for a second year running with Borussia Dortmund successfully defending their title a few weeks ago.
Two titles on the line
But they do still have the final of the DFB-Pokal against Dortmund to prepare for, not to mention the obligation of taking their final Bundesliga game of the season against Cologne seriously this Saturday. "But I keep getting text messages or emails from friends which indirectly remind me about the final and you are always being spoken to about it, so I don't think any of us are going to really be able to get 19 May and Chelsea out of our heads completely," said midfielder Toni Kroos to the Bild newspaper.
"It is such a huge event, this game is so electrifying, but Dortmund are also roaming around in our minds - that game is similarly important."
And the fact Chelsea are Bayern's opponents and not Barcelona does not mean it is going to be any easier, according to Kroos. "They defeated Barcelona with a gigantic defensive battle and that was not down to luck," he said. "That was 180 minutes of hard battle and so they deserve to be in the final. Anybody who underestimates Chelsea does not have a clue."
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