The all-German Champions League final on Saturday pits traditional powerhouses Bayern Munich against modernists Borussia Dortmund at London's Wembley Stadium (7:45 p.m. British time) with more at stake than Europe's premier club trophy.
Bayern, four-times European champions, are Germany's richest and most successful club, while rejuvenated Borussia Dortmund won the trophy in 1997 but came to the brink of financial ruin in 2005.
The Ruhr valley club have recovered on a sporting level under coach Juergen Klopp, challenging Bayern's dominance in the past two seasons before the Munich club reclaimed the league title last month in record-breaking fashion.
The Bavarians, in the first all-German Champions League final, are desperate to erase memories of two lost finals in 2010 and 2012 and reclaim their top spot by beating the team that forced them to go two seasons without any domestic silverware.
Last season's Champions League final defeat in Munich to Chelsea on penalties has been especially bitter to swallow for Bayern but now Jupp Heynckes' team stands before an unprecedented treble for a German club.
Heynckes, who has announced an end to his long Bundesliga career and will be replaced by former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola at the end of the season, could leave after completing a trio of titles including the German Cup, 12 months after what for other teams could have been a back-breaking defeat.
"To be able to rise again after such a final defeat last year shows that my players are carved out of special wood," said Heynckes, who looks set to retire from football.
"That is why I am convinced that we will lift the trophy. We have incredible mental strength, we cannot be pushed over."
For several Bayern players, the final could be the last chance for a major international trophy that has been eluding them with both club and country.
Bayern playmaker Bastian Schweinsteiger and captain Philipp Lahm have enjoyed hugely successful footballing careers but, both in their late 20s, they are running out of chances for a big trophy.
France international Franck Ribery and Dutch winger Arjen Robben have also had enough runners-up titles in their careers and are eager to avoid being stuck with a loser tag at the third attempt in four seasons.
For Dortmund, who lost only one game in the entire competition - 2-0 at Real Madrid in the semi-final second leg - it is the culmination of a sensational three-year spell. They won the German league in 2011, the league and Cup double in 2012 and now get a shot at the Champions League title.
This success has come at a price with Dortmund players, including top scorer Robert Lewandowski, on the wish list of almost every major European club
The achievement of Klopp's young team, characterised by its counter-punching and offensive style that at times is mesmerising, has even surprised some of his own players.
"If someone had told me before the season that we would be playing in the final, I wouldn't have believed it," said midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski.
"For us, the players and the whole club, it is a great event. Not many of us have had the chance to play in a final like this. This is the culmination of our good season in the Champions League," said one of three Poland internationals in the team.
Enthusiasm has slightly been dampened for 45-year-old Klopp's team, with hugely gifted Mario Goetze, who will join Bayern next season, missing out on the final due to a muscle injury.
The offensive midfielder, for whom Bayern paid a reported 37 million euros ($47.63 million), was injured in the second leg of the semi against Real.
Dortmund central defender Mats Hummels is nursing an ankle injury but should be fit on Saturday.
Borussia Dortmund: 1-Roman Weidenfeller; 26-Lukasz Piszczek, 4-Neven Subotic, 15-Mats Hummels, 29-Marcel Schmelzer; 8-Ilkay Gundogan, 5-Sebastian Kehl, 16-Jakub Blaszczykowski, 19-Kevin Grosskreutz, 11-Marco Reus; 9-Robert Lewandowski
Bayern Munich: 1-Manuel Neuer; 21-Philipp Lahm, 17-Jerome Boateng, 4-Dante, 27-David Alaba; 31-Bastian Schweinsteiger, 8-Javi Martinez; 10-Arjen Robben, 25-Thomas Mueller, 7-Franck Ribery; 9-Mario Mandzukic
Published Date: May 23, 2013 13:57 PM | Updated Date: May 23, 2013 13:57 PM