Looking to the past to learn about the future isn’t the worst way to try and cast a prediction, and even if the sample size isn’t that big, putting Bayern Munich on a pedestal and declaring them the favorites to win the Champions League this season isn’t so far fetched, especially because of their win on an English ground.
It’s been 12 years since Bayern won the Champions League in 2001, beating Valencia on penalties in the final. That year they beat Manchester United 3-1 in the quarterfinals of the competition (which was also a 2-group stage system back then), including a 1-0 win at Old Trafford thanks to an 86th minute goal by Paulo Sergio. In the second leg, Bayern won 2-1 with goals from Giovanni Elber and Mehmet Scholl, while Ryan Giggs could only score some sort of no-consolation goal.
Bayern went on to win the Champions League, their first trophy in Europe’s premier competition since the glory days of the 1970’s, when they won three straight between 1974 and 1976. It wasn’t their first European trophy though, adding the UEFA Cup to their loaded trophy cabinet in 1996.
After finishing behind Dortmund in 1995 (not for the first time), Bayern Munich played in the UEFA Cup in 1996, because in those days, only champions played in the Champions League. Sounds funny, but it’s true. In any case, the UEFA Cup was a knockout competition, no group stage like in its later days and now with the Europa League.
In the quarterfinals, after already putting Lokomotiv Moscow, Raith Rovers and Benfica behind them, they met Nottingham Forest. Bayern didn’t do too well in the first leg, at home, beating Forest 2-1 with goals from Jurgen Klinsmann and Mehmet Scholl, while Steve Chettle scored a promising away goal for Forest.
Just like in the opening round of the competition against Lokomotiv, Bayern turned a disappointing home result to a massive romp on the away match, beating Forest 5-1 at the City Ground. Christian Ziege, Thomas Strunz, Jurgen Kilnsmann (x2) and Jean-Pierre Papin scored for the team that also beat Barcelona in the semifinal and Bordeaux, with Zinedine Zidane in the lineup, in the final.
Now that they’ve beaten Arsenal in London, only their third win ever away against an English team, it seems that it was written in the stars that Bayern, after losing in two finals over the last three years, will get to put their hands on their fifth European Champions Cup.