While Bayern Munich struggled to deal with their brutally painful loss in penalties against Chelsea in the Champions League final, the German national team spoke of the defeat as a possible warning for the up-coming 2012 European Championship.
Don’t except any rash decisions made out of frustration or despair as Bayern Munich look around for answers as to how they could have lost to Chelsea despite a 43-9 advantage on shots and 20 corners to just one for Chelsea, which used its sole corner to equalize in the 88th minute before taking home a 5-4 win in penalties.
“We would have been absolutely deserved winners today. But we still have to ask ourselves why we didn’t win. That’s something which is very hard to understand, for now at least. In these cruel and sad hours, it’s very important to remain rational and somehow simply accept that this is what’s happened, difficult as it is,” said Bayern club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge at the post-match banquet at Munich’s Postpalast.
“You cannot make positive or negative arguments on such a night. You have to let it settle in, then analyze things calmly and come to a result. … I don’t want to criticize the team now. I did see some things I didn’t like. But it doesn’t make sense to discuss that tonight. Over the long term, I have no desire always finishing second. That is not a state that I can accept,” added Bayern president Uli Hoeness in post-game interviews.
“Maybe we have to ask ourselves why it happened, whether these are the players that can force (a title). If we have enough of them. I didn’t see a Jens Jeremies, who would be biting at the opponents’ calves even in warm-ups. We cannot say that everything is okay when we finish second three times. I am not the one who accepts that. One time can happen, but twice, three times …”
In 2001, Jeremies came out to play in the return leg of the semifinal against Real Madrid and scored the winning 2-1 goal – just 12 days after under-going a knee operation.
Despite going a second year without a title, Hoeness said the team must remain calm and not overreact.
“We have to be careful. We cannot put ourselves under too much pressure. We are talking about a good year, not a catastrophic year. When we went on the crazy shopping spree in 2007 with Luca Toni, with Franck Ribery and so on, before that we hadn’t done anything. We lost in the cup, lost in the Champions League and were fourth in the league. That is not a problem now,” said the Bayern leader.
Many compared Bayern’s loss to Chelsea in Munich to the German record champions’ 2-1 defeat in the 1999 Champions League final against Manchester United. But this loss was even worse.
“I went through it all in 1999, when we lost so dramatically in Barcelona to goals in the 89th and 92nd minutes. That was unbelievably brutal, but I almost have the impression this evening is somehow even more bitter, brutal and basically also unnecessary. The pain is unbelievable, and looking around the tables now, I have the impression that’s the mood you share,” said Rummenigge.
“There was unbelievable sadness in the air. The people, the fans were despondent and sad. Our grieving, and probably also the anger we all feel to a certain extent, will probably only really come out when we wake up tomorrow, when we truly realize what a huge chance we’ve spurned this evening. […] We could have won our final at home.”
Bayern hope their defeat at home – their fifth Champions League/Champions Cup loss in the last six finals along with 1982, 1987, 1999 and 2010 – may turn into a positive.
“The win in 2001 wouldn’t have been half as nice had we not lost so dramatically two years earlier,” said Jeremies following Bayern’s fourth European elite club trophy in 2001.
But Bayern’s bosses are not the only ones trying to figure out how to deal with Munich’s brutal loss. The heads of the German national team are also looking to console Bayern players – especially since eight of them (Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Philipp Lahm, Holger Badstuber, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Thomas Müller and Mario Gomez) will likely make Germany’s team for Euro 2012 in Ukraine and Poland.
“Despite this defeat, let me congratulate Bayern on a top-class Champions League campaign. Bayern have given us some fantastic matches, especially against Madrid. They were the better team against Chelsea for 120 minutes and had the better chances. Football can be brutal sometimes,” said Germany head coach Joachim Löw.
“We will build the guys back up. They can still win a title with us,” added national team manager Oliver Bierhoff, who plans on contacting Bayern on Monday to talk to the players.
“I do not think that they lack confidence. They also took responsibility in the penalties. If you work so long for something, it’s clear that there is an emptiness there initially. Each person will deal with that in their own way. I am convinced that we can pick them up here. It’s also good to get out of the direct vicinity, out of the city where everybody is thinking about the game.”
But the Champions League loss will not just go away.
“You cannot think that the players will arrive and someone will take out a magic potion and everything is forgotten. I am not worried about Philipp Lahm. We and the teammates just need to be empathetic,” said Bierhoff.
And when asked about criticism about Schweinsteiger, whose final penalty hit the right post and gave Didier Drogba the chance to secure Chelsea the title, Bierhoff said: “That happens now and again. There are many factors for a victory. You cannot throw that burden on him as well.”
The German manager did however say Bayern’s loss could act as a warning for Germany as they head into the European Championship as one of the major favorites.
“Of course we now have to learn to be efficient. We know about that. This Champions League showed that the favorite doesn’t always come to the front. Naturally it’s important to play nice football, but you also have to be efficient. This has to be a warning for us. Many other teams will play a role which do not have the technical means,” warned Bierhoff.