It all kicks off in UCL final dress rehearsal

Posted by Susie Schaaf

Perhaps I should've modified my last blog entry. My take on "irrelevant" was solely league-related, not anything relating to the amount of passion shown by both clubs - neither fielding their best possible XI - in this Champions League final dress rehearsal that wasn't. Or, was it?

A packed Signal Iduna Park saw Kevin Grosskreutz fire Dortmund in front with an early spectacular volley, and a sublime Mario Gomez header to equalize in the first half. But, while no more goals would be scored on the day, the action was truly in the second half: Manuel Neuer saved a Robert Lewandowski penalty, and Rafinha would see red for catching Jakub Blaszczykowski in the face with his elbow.

- Highlights: Dortmund 1-1 Bayern Munich
- Spoils shared in UCL dress rehearsal


The ensuing madness, with an "ill-equipped to deal" referee in Peter Gagelmann, saw Kuba with a yellow for arguing, Rafinha insisting he did nothing wrong, and stomping off the field only to get in to it with Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp in the tunnel. Klopp and Rafinha exchanged words until former BvB employee, Matthias Sammer stepped in to the action.

Klopp said post-match: "Sammer told me to 'leave the player alone'. I said something back. Gagelmann made us shake hands. We got on with it."

Jupp Heynckes, taking a cue from Klopp's casual day (homeless?) look, took charge of a much different team than that which destroyed Barcelona mid-week. Captain Manuel Neuer was in goal, with a back four of a testy Rafinha, Jerome Boateng, Daniel van Buyten and Diego Contento. Anatoliy Tymoschuk and Luis Gustavo held down defending midfield, while the attack featured Xherdan Shaqiri, David Alaba, and Claudio Pizarro in the hole behind Mario Gomez.

BvB began the match with an early high press, while Bayern suffered from some touch and communication issues in the early going. After Pizarro slotted a perfect pass to Shaqiri, the Swiss midfielder chose to shoot instead of passing off for Bayern's first great chance at goal.

Tymoshchuk saw yellow early for a Lewandowski leg sweep, before Dortmund got on the board: Kuba crossing to an on-rushing, unmarked Grosskreutz at the back - Kevin striking a quick volley past a surprised Neuer.

Minutes later Ilkay Guendogan would make the most of a Contento push in the box, only to be subbed out for Moritz Leitner; Klopp not risking any unwanted injuries before the final. But, Bayern would slowly exert control after Pizarro picked out Rafinha perfectly - the Brazilian crossing to Gomez, who emphatically headed across Roman Weidenfeller to equalize.

Play continued equally for both sides before Nuri Sahin shot well over from a free-kick, and David Alaba did the same. Both goalkeepers would make saves from Lewandowski and Gomez, respectively, to end the half.

While Mats Hummels could be seen during the half completing 'keeper exercises, this match would not turn out as casual as it seemed. Bayern would get an early chance from Pizarro with Neven Subotic blocking Gomez late, before a Nuri Sahin drive straight at Boateng was awarded as a (harsh) penalty. Lewandowski strode to the Elfmeter, but had his shot saved by Neuer. Justice, perhaps, in light of the call.

And then it kicked off.

Rafinha would see yellow on 62 minutes, and then red on 64 for his elbow into Kuba's face. The ensuing fracas involving pretty much everyone certainly setting the tone for an increasingly sour relationship between the two clubs, and an increasingly entertaining Champions League final for the whole world to see.

Emre Can would be a defensive replacement for Gomez as Bayern Munich were reduced to ten men, while Marco Reus was brought in for Sebastain Kehl - Klopp showing his intentions to get all three points from this one.

Thomas Mueller was introduced for Pizarro for a bit of spark, but Reus got a free kick over the wall; bouncing directly in front of Neuer for a tough save. Lewandowski and Boateng could be seen mixing it up in the box .

Tymoshchuk had a crack at goal, well over, before Sven Bender would come on for Kuba - the Polish international taking a beating on the day. And Emre Can saw yellow as Bayern continued their very physical style of play - Mueller and Felipe Santana also having words after a tackle.

Neuer, however, would also get some studs, as Julian Schieber came in much too hard on the Bayern keeper after losing the ball in the box. Neuer would say, post-match: "This is a man's game, and they [tough tackles] belong in the game."

Schieber and Schmelzer would have late chances in the box, but were denied by a smothering Bayern defence; before Tymoshchuk took a shot in the family jewels by a Sahin rocket.

This is the first time Bayern failed to get all points in the Rueckrunde this season, but they still hold a 20 point lead over Dortmund. The psychological aspect of this match might end up more important than the actual result. Bayern came to do some damage in a physical style of play, while Dortmund - with their substitutions - looked like they took this match more seriously.

Meanwhile... in Munich... this happened. (link: http://t.co/zs56hfnJ50)

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