For the first time in the history of the UEFA Champions League, two German clubs are set to contest the most prestigious prize in European football. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will lock horns in the final at Wembley Stadium after both got the better of Spanish opposition in the last four, beating Liga heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.
Saturday's showpiece will be the fifth meeting this season between the sides, and the two former winners could hardly know each other better. It will also be the fourth time clubs from the same country have disputed the final, and all the signs point to a spectacular occasion. Having racked up 29 goals at a rate of 2.42 per match, Bayern will take to Wembley's hallowed turf as the most prolific team in the competition this year, while Dortmund sit third on the list after netting 23 times or 1.92 per game.
A glance at the statistics suggests that Bayern are clear favourites for the title, given their record of two wins and two draws against their opponents this term. Jupp Heynckes' men have been by far the most dominant force in German football throughout the season, racking up 91 out of a possible 102 points in the league and suffering just a single loss, against Bayer Leverkusen. Perhaps significantly, they ultimately finished their campaign 25 points clear of Dortmund, who headed the rest of the pack in second place.
Overall, these two old rivals have crossed paths 100 times down the years, with Bayern edging 45 of those encounters, losing just 25 and drawing the other 30. The Bundesliga champions have likewise been untouchable in the knockout phase thus far. While their 4-0 aggregate quarter-final success against Juventus was impressive, it was nothing compared to their 7-0 victory against Barcelona over two semi-final games, and they look to be gaining momentum at the right time in order to hand Heynckes the perfect parting gift.
As for Dortmund, they caught the eye early on by finishing as unbeaten winners of an extremely tough section during the group stage. Since then, they have fluctuated between being utterly ruthless and slightly fortunate, capable of sweeping aside Madrid 4-1 in their semi-final opener but also needing a late miracle to see off Malaga in the last eight. What has remained constant, however, is the individual talent at their disposal, with Roman Weidenfeller making more crucial saves than any other goalkeeper in this year's tournament (41) and striker Robert Lewandowski second only to Cristiano Ronaldo in the scoring stakes. The sole negative is that gifted playmaker Mario Gotze will miss the showdown with his future club after aggravating a hamstring injury.
How they qualified
* Bayern Munich:
- Winners of Group F (ahead of Valencia, BATE Borisov and Lille); 4 wins, 1 draw, 1 defeat, 13 points
- Round of 16 v Arsenal (3-1, 0-2)
- Quarter-final v Juventus (2-0, 2-0)
- Semi-final v Barcelona (4-0, 3-0)
* Borussia Dortmund:
- Winners of Group D (ahead of Real Madrid, Ajax and Manchester City); 4 wins, 2 draws, 14 points
- Round of 16 v Shakhtar Donetsk (2-2, 3-0)
- Quarter-final v Malaga (0-0, 3-2)
- Semi-final v Real Madrid (4-1, 0-2)
The outcome of Saturday's game could well hang on the respective contributions of Dortmund's 24-year-old Polish striker Robert Lewandowski and Bayern's French forward Franck Ribery, 30.
"When we signed him, it was like winning the lottery," commented Franz Beckenbauer after Ribery's first season with the club in 2007/08. Since Jupp Heynckes took over the reins in 2011, the Frenchman has become a vital cog in the Bayern machine, setting the tempo, spreading passes around and freeing team-mates with laser-guided through balls. He is equally adept at finding the net himself, as he displayed with two goals and a pair of assists in a 4-3 victory against Borussia Monchengladbach on the final day of the Bundesliga season. His record in this year's Champions League reads one goal and four assists in 763 minutes of football, but those figures do not do full justice to his influence.
In contrast, Lewandowski's Champions League numbers are his greatest calling card. Having contested 1,000 minutes thus far, he has struck ten goals from 24 shots on target – including one penalty – and also weighed in with two assists. A prolific marksman with 75 goals to his name from 138 Bundesliga outings, he boasts the happy knack of rising to the occasion even when the stakes are disorientingly high, not least when his winner against Bayern in April 2012 helped his side close in on the title. This season, he has become more effective still, scoring at least once per game in a run of 12 consecutive appearances and, of course, putting Madrid to the sword with an unprecedented four goals in Dortmund's semi-final first leg.
* Bayern have contested nine European Cup finals so far, winning four and losing five. They stand third on the list of clubs to have reached the most showpieces, with Real Madrid having disputed 12 and AC Milan 11. Victory would take them level with Liverpool on five separate triumphs, behind Madrid's nine and Milan's seven.
* Dortmund were the opponents when Bayern recorded their biggest ever Bundesliga win in 1971/72, current club President Uli Hoeness scoring twice in an 11-1 triumph.
* Dortmund lifted the Champions League trophy in Munich when they won their maiden final 3-1 against Juventus in 1997.
* The two sides crossed paths in the quarter-finals of this competition in 1997/98, Stephane Chapuisat pouncing in the 109th minute to give Dortmund a 1-0 extra-time success in the second leg following a goalless first meeting.
* Wembley will be hosting its seventh European Cup decider and the second since the iconic venue was rebuilt.
* This will be the fourth final between two teams from the same country after an all-Spanish showpiece in 2000, an Italian affair in 2003 and the 2008 match between English clubs.
What they said
"The growth of German football has been organised along sensible lines, by working with youngsters. We didn't just get here overnight. The core of the German national team will be out on the pitch at Wembley. The future is safe," Bastian Schweinsteiger, Bayern midfielder.
"Even if I made three, four or five changes from one game to another, it made no difference to the quality of our play. That's one of the secrets of our success," Jupp Heynckes, Bayern coach.
"What's made the biggest difference is that we're a united team. That's our advantage over our opponents," Jakub Blaszczykowski, Dortmund midfielder.
"If we win, we won't suddenly be the best team in the world – we'll just have beaten the best team in the world," Jurgen Klopp, Dortmund coach.
Have your say
Will Robert Lewandowski be able to pull alongside 12-goal Cristiano Ronaldo in the competition's scoring charts?