We're less than ten hours before the Champions League Final! Can you feel it in the air? Can you? Bayern Munich are in the Final.
As we embark on our third Champions League Final in the last four years, we're no longer at a "happy to be here" stage. Saturday's match against Borussia Dortmund is officially in the "must win" category. We are a title winning club. Saturday should be the second step on the path to the first treble in German football history.
There's no reason that we should forget what's happened in the previous two finals. We were able to live with the first final. While the result may have been different if a few calls had gone our way, losing to Jose Mourinho's 2009-10 Inter Milan side wasn't the worst thing. It was easy to recover from it. It was our first time back in "the big time" of European football in almost a decade.
However, last season's heartbreaking loss to Chelsea on penalties in Munich could have been devastating. It probably should have been devastating. After Schweinsteiger's penalty struck the post, there was little doubt that the title had slipped through the fingers. Seeing the pain and anguish on Bastian's face was tough to take. Knowing what he had gone through to recover from his injury in time to play in the Final made it even harder to take.
Bastian is prepared for this moment. He knows how good the club has been this season. "If we play to our potential, it's very hard for anyone to win against us."
Bayern will be short two starters on Saturday due to long term injuries.
Holger Badstuber has been out since December after tearing his ACL against Borussia Dortmund. He then re-injured it last weekend and is expected to be out until 2014. This is awful news for the young centerback. Sigh. Poor Holger. The other injury falls to the hamstring of Toni Kroos. He suffered that injury in the quarterfinals against Juventus and will be back to training this summer. It's a huge blow for the player and the club.
Obviously, the only injury for BVB worth mentioning in Mario Götze. Since injuring his hamstring against Real Madrid in the semifinals, Götze has been in a race against time to get fit for the Final. He resumed training this week for the first since the injury, but he was forced to quit after tweaking the muscle. BVB announced that he would miss the final.
Manuel Neuer; David Alaba, Dante, Jerome Boateng, Philipp Lahm; Javi Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Franck Ribery, Thomas Müller, Arjen Robben; Mario Mandzukic
Roman Weidenfeller; Marcel Schmelzer, Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Lukasz Piszczek; Sebastian Kehl, Sven Bender; Marco Reus, Ilkay Gündagon, Jakub Blaszczykowski; Robert Lewandowski
The referee for the match is Nicola Rizzoli. The Italian has refereed two previous matches for Bayern and none for BVB. Both matches for Bayern were losses including a 2-3 against Manchester United in 2010 (Bayern advanced 4-4 on away goals.) and a 0-1 loss to FC Basel in 2012 (Bayern advanced 7-1.).
Rizzoli became a FIFA international official in 2007 and has a several big games under his belt. He whistled the 2010 UEFA Cup Final between Atletico Madrid and Fulham and three matches at Euro 2012. So far in this year's tournament, he's refereed four matches: Schalke-Arsenal, Celtic-Benfica, Braga-Galatasaray, and Malaga-Porto.
Were you wondering what his regular job was? Yes, he has a regular job. He's an architect.
Television, Radio, Streaming
Television: Fox (USA-English), Fox Deportes (USA-Spanish), Sportsnet (Canada), Sky Sports (Germany and England)
Radio: SiriusXM FC Channel 94 (USA), BBC Radio 5 Live (England)
Streaming: Fox Soccer 2 Go (USA), Sky Go (Germany and England)
Venue and Time
Venue: Wembley Stadium in London, England
Time: Kickoff is 19:45 BST
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com