The heartbreaking way in which Bayern Munich lost last season's UEFA Champions League final has helped them steel themselves for this campaign, according to manager Jupp Heynckes. Bayern face Barcelona 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 were able to regroup and have 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 tomorrow night. For Heynckes, though, the challenge is to prove that last week's result was not a one-off.
"We have to take into account the rival. We have our philosophy on football and this season we have proved that Bayern is a great team playing top quality football. We have our culture and we are capable of scoring goals tomorrow at the Camp Nou," he said in his pre-match media conference.
"We can't think too much about the first-leg result. After the match we can evaluate things, but I cannot say which team is the better one. Barcelona have played at such a high level for so many years. 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 Camp Nou. It is an area he knows well following time in charge of Real Madrid in the past and he has fond memories of coaching in the country.
"When you coach big teams in Spain, you also incorporate that culture to understand everything better," he said. "I know I can return to Spain whenever I want. I won the Champions League with Real Madrid and I also had great achievements with Athletic. In Barcelona, there's a huge sporting culture, especially after the Olympics. It's a wonderful city with a huge amount of culture, so I love being here."
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 any final.