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FC Bayern München 2012-13: The Significant Moments of this Season’s Champions League Campaign

Beautiful moments cloud our judgments; usually the most significant moments are rather scrappy and ugly ones. Thomas Müller displays the importance of scrap over beauty. Even within those ugly moments is inexplicable beauty though. At the end of the day, the journey matters only to those who have lived through those ugly and beautiful moments.

Alex Grimm

And hence, this journey starts where it should have ended, where the team should have been crowned, where the song ‘We are Young' by Fun should have been associated with red success rather than blue, where the song ‘We are the Champions' should have seen a sea of red and white paper cloud the air.

Arjen Robben Missed Penalty

UEFA Champions League Final; FC Bayern 1-1 Chelsea; 19th May 2012; Extra Time

The tide was turning against Bayern; in fact in seemed destiny just did not want to support Bayern. Didier Drogba managed to cause enough damage to Franck Ribery inside the penalty area to end the Frenchman's night and to allow the introduction of one of the guilty party on the night, the beloved Ivica Olic. Arjen Robben took it upon himself to score. Bastian Schweinsteiger looked away; the ball was in Petr Cech's hands after a moment which promised so much but produced so little.

Bastian Schweinsteiger Missed Penalty

UEFA Champions League Final; FC Bayern 1-1 Chelsea; 19th May 2012; Penalty Shootout

Bayern's heart and soul lost his nerve; his injured calf hurt ever so slightly more as he saw the ball connect with the post. Bastian Schweinsteiger, the prodigal son of German football, the beloved midfielder, had just gift wrapped the trophy in blue wrapping paper. Only minutes later, he succumbed to the ground. And many felt that the Tiger (I am not talking about Effenberg!) would just not be able to sharpen his claws for one last time. He was emotionally and physically broken. Euro 2012 broke him further. But the doubters were downright wrong. Because, he embodies FC Bayern. And FC Bayern always rises from the ashes.

Bastian Schweinsteiger's Opening Goal

UEFA Champions League Group Stages; FC Bayern 2-1 Valencia, 19th September 2012

Bayern's journey on the road to redemption had just begun. Fittingly enough, the man who ended the trophy quest began it. He fell to the ground in the first half but not in sorrow. He had almost a rueful smile on his face as he opened the scoring with an excellent goal in a match which Bayern dominated.

Thomas Müller's Penalty

UEFA Champions League Group Stages; Lille Metropole 0-1 FC Bayern; 23rd October 2012

Bayern's campaign was in danger of ending early after a shocking 3-1 loss to BATE Borisov. The game in France was incredibly scrappy and the Bavarians looked to be in danger of dropping points again. The pitch was poor and so was the match; it was undoubtedly one of the worst matches of this season's campaign. When Bayern won a penalty around the in the relatively early stages, Bayern needed a player with ice flowing through his veins to step up. In came Thomas Müller, the man who most deserved a winners' medal in May. He calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net, handing Bayern three points.

Pizza's Moment

UEFA Champions League Group Stages; FC Bayern 6-1 Lille Metropole; 7th November 2012

The Bavarians had not exactly convinced that they could win the Champions League; this display was perhaps Bayern's best in the season in Europe aside from the second half display against Barcelona in the first leg of the semifinals. In 33 minutes, the demolition was almost complete. Pizarro scored his third and Bayern's fifth to cap off a memorable first half. Aside from the fact that bullish Bayern was back, it was great to see a former hero of the Allianz notch three in a game; it also showed the strength in depth of the squad.

Müller's Beauty

UEFA Champions League Group Stages; Valencia 1-1 FC Bayern; 20th November 2012

This goal was the group clincher; had Bayern failed to at least pick up a point, they were in danger of finishing second. This season, if one complaint can be made against Bayern, it is that they have failed horribly against opposition with ten players. Valencia took the lead despite being a man short for the majority. It was up to Müller to rescue a point with a rather magnificent goal late on in the match.

Lukas Podolski's Revenge

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg; Arsenal 1-3 FC Bayern; 19th February 2013

This moment should never have come about. It allowed Arsenal to hang on and almost head into the next round considering the circumstances of the second goal. A corner was awarded to Arsenal; that corner was definitely not a corner. Podolski headed into an unguarded net after a horrible mess up by the Bayern back line and Manuel Neuer.

Mario Mandzukic's First

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg; Arsenal 1-3 FC Bayern; 19th February 2013

If Podolski's goal kept Arsenal alive, Mandzukic's allowed Bayern to win the tie. His goal came with a stroke of luck as it brushed the bar and went across the line. This goal proved to be extremely vital considering the events of the second leg. It was also Mandzukic's first goal in the Champions League, opening the gates up for one more in the quarters and one more in the final itself.

Bastian Schweinsteiger's Intentional Yellow Card

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg; Arsenal 1-3 FC Bayern; 19th February 2012

This moment almost had disastrous consequences. In the second leg, Bayern missed their midfield general greatly as they struggled to wake up. They could not decide whether to sit back or to attack and were punished as early as the third moment. While Schweinsteiger was available for the rest of the campaign, that yellow card could so easily have ensured that there would be no quarterfinal appearance for the German champions.

Laurent Koscielny's Late Goal

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg; FC Bayern 0-2 Arsenal; 19th February 2013

This goal changed the complexion of both teams in the tie. It gave Arsenal the confidence to clinch fourth place in the Premier League. On the other hand, Bayern learned the dangers of complacency. They had been poor at times in the Bundesliga in the time between the first and second legs. They had not realized as they had managed to grind out results. Suddenly, Arsenal forced them to realize that simply turning up would not see Bayern win games. It forced Bayern to improve so much so that they did not concede a goal from open play in the rest of the campaign.

David Alaba's Austrian Special

UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal First Leg; FC Bayern 2-0 Juventus; 2nd April 2013

If there was ever a moment which changed the face of a tie, it was this goal. This early goal for Bayern saw Juventus shell shocked. Indeed David Alaba earned a reputation for his powerful strikes following one of the fastest strikes in Champions League history and the second fastest in Bayern's European history. It allowed Bayern to grow into the game, taking in Juve pressure and simply blowing them away cleverly.

Toni Kroos' Injury

UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal First Leg; FC Bayern 2-0 Juventus; 2nd April 2013

Arjen Robben was not meant to sing the Champions League anthem for the rest of the campaign. Yet, incredibly poor luck forced a player who was at the peak of his powers to collapse. Kroos' season ending injury allowed Robben to come into the team in March. Neither the Dutchman nor a fan looked back afterwards. Kroos was certainly missed at times but Robben provided enough magic to allow the fans to forget momentarily about Kroos' thunderbolts. In the match itself, Bayern actually started controlling the game after Robben's introduction.

Manuel Neuer's Save

UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal Second Leg; Juventus 0-2 FC Bayern; 10th April 2013

Bayern was ahead by two goals in the tie and playing the Champions of Italy in Turin. Juventus was awarded a free kick. Andrea Pirlo, the master of such goals, stepped up to the plate. He produced an absolute master class. A master keeper stood at the other end; he punched it away ensuring that there would be no nervous breakdown akin to the previous round.

Dante's Clearance

UEFA Champions League Semifinal First Leg; FC Bayern 4-0 Barcelona; 23rd April 2013

The tie was hanging in the balance when the Bayern defence had a rare moment of confusion. Dante's last minute connection, which on many occasions has seen a player score an own goal, saw the ball go past Messi's twinkle toes, allowing Bayern to maintain their lead. A Barcelona goal might ultimately not have changed much considering just how well Bayern played. Nonetheless, that moment was a pivotal one.

Thomas Müller's Shove/Elbow

UEFA Champions League Semifinal First Leg; FC Bayern 4-0 Barcelona; 23rd April 2013

If ever there was a historical shove, it was this one. ‘We are not the Catholic Church' said a poster in the comments section recently. Müller had a second to decide what he wanted to do. The shove faded into the background; Müller almost made it seem like he had absolutely no clue about it. He shoved Jordi Alba out of the way to make space for Arjen Robben to score Bayern's third.

Arjen Robben Masterpiece

UEFA Champions League Semifinal First Leg; FC Bayern 4-0 Barcelona; 23rd April 2013

If there was any goal which crushed Barcelona, it was this one. That goal was scored stylishly and ebulliently past their players. Victor Valdez had no chance as Robben calmly slotted the ball past him. The goal was not exactly vintage Robben. But it was indeed a moment which Arjen will cherish. He had scored yet another vital goal (albeit not in a final) for Bayern.

Arjen Robben Wonder Strike; Wind of Change

UEFA Champions League Semifinal Second Leg; Barcelona 0-3 FC Bayern; 1st May 2013

This goal truly showed who the true masters of Europe were. Barcelona saw their hopes of a comeback end as Robben, this time doing what he does best, simply slammed the ball past Valdez. There was a sense of a changing of the guard at that point. Barcelona was not going to be the best team in Europe. There was going to be no drama in a semifinal involving Barca. They would simply be outclassed for the second night in a row against Bayern. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Nonetheless, the Spanish champions should be back for yet another semi next season.

Neven Subotic's Clearance

UEFA Champions League Final; Borussia Dortmund 1-2 FC Bayern; 25th May 2013

Jupp Heynckes mentioned something along the lines of ‘fighting destiny' in one of his post match interviews. At this point, one honestly thought Bayern would go on to find a way to lose another final. Luck was acting against them once again. Arjen Robben should arguably have slid in earlier and put the ball into the back of the net. Subotic was just a second quicker and ensured that the final stayed at 1-1. Bayern this time though would not succumb to destiny.

Arjen Robben, That Moment

UEFA Champions League final; Borussia Dortmund 1-2 FC Bayern; 25th May 2013

Every piece of furniture or every blade of grass depending on your surroundings simply drifted away. Nothing mattered. Only Arjen Robben mattered. Roman Weidenfeller disappeared into the background. Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic became tiny unimportant specks. Arjen Robben and the net were the only two in view; and this time, the net welcomed his strike with open arms. Number five was two minutes away suddenly. And Robben was, just as in any fairytale, going to go down in FC Bayern München history for all the right reasons forever.

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