Crosses key in Champions League final

Posted by Jacob Nitzberg, ESPN Stats & Information

The UEFA Champions League final is Saturday at Wembley Stadium in London, as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund meet in the first all-German European Cup final. Here is a statistical look at the match, complete with the Soccer Power Index projection:

Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund finished first and second in the Bundesliga this season, and are the two highest-rated teams in the league by far according to SPI. Bayern is the top-rated team in Europe's five best leagues, with Dortmund not far behind in fifth.

While both teams have high ratings, Bayern’s defensive rating is twice as good as Dortmund’s, making them heavy favorites in a neutral-site matchup. Bayern lifts the trophy 80 percent of the time according to SPI.

Though Dortmund is the underdog, it may have been Bayern’s toughest opponent in Bundesliga and UCL play this season. Against Dortmund, Bayern managed 10 shots per match in the two Bundesliga matches, well below its league-leading average of 17.1 per match.

Bayern’s six total shots in the match at Dortmund were its fewest in a Bundesliga or UCL match this season. Bayern had seven shots on goal in the two matches combined, compared with an average of 7.3 shots on goal per match in the Bundesliga this season. That is the most in the Bundesliga and second most in the five major European leagues.

Bayern (84.9 percent) and Dortmund (79.3 percent) were the top two teams in Germany in passing accuracy. Bayern was even more dominant on passes into the attacking third, completing 69.0 percent; Dortmund was second at 60.8 percent. Bayern did not have much success in this regard against Dortmund, recording its lowest and third-lowest percentages on such passes in a Bundesliga or UCL match this season.

Borussia Dortmund completed 33.0 percent of crosses in league play, the highest percentage in the top five leagues. Bayern Munich was second at 30.9 percent, but did so while attempting 287 more crosses than Dortmund. Bayern created 167 chances from crosses in league play, 20 more than any other team, and its 28 assists from crosses were five more than any other team.

While both teams are adept at crossing, Munich is much better at defending them than Dortmund. In league play this season, Bayern allowed opponents to complete 19.8 percent of crosses, fewest in the Bundesliga and eighth fewest in the top five leagues. Dortmund allowed opponents to complete 26.7 percent of crosses, 10th most in the top five leagues.

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer led the Bundesliga in save percentage, stopping 78.6 percent of shots on goal. Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller stopped only 65.0 percent of shots on target, 17th of 22 Bundesliga keepers to play at least 10 matches this season. Their roles were reversed in the Champions League, where Weidenfeller has stopped 76.5 percent of shots on target. Neuer has stopped 68.8 percent, below the league average of 70.1 percent.

Regardless of the outcome, the first all-German European Cup final is guaranteed to produce Germany's first European champion since Bayern Munich in 2001.

ESPN Conversations