UCL finalists relax amid fraught build-up
Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund fought traffic and driving rain on Friday as they got their first taste of Wembley, 24 hours before they were due to lock horns in the Champions League final.
It is the first time that two German clubs have contested the showpiece occasion but both sides seemed more concerned by the miserable weather and traffic congestion on route to the stadium.
Rain battered down on northwest London for much of the afternoon, with a sudden torrent curtailing Dortmund's pre-match training session shortly before 20:30 local time (1930GMT).
Bayern's pre-game press conference was delayed by half an hour after the team bus got caught up in traffic and Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp joked that his side would require a police escort to Saturday's game.
"If we're going to have to get to the match punctually tomorrow, they'll have to put those blue lights on," he said.
"If someone knows a policeman, please ask him."
Klopp's mood had been lifted by the news that key central defender Mats Hummels will be fit to play despite injuring his ankle in a 2-1 loss to Hoffenheim last weekend.
Dortmund, the 1997 champions, will nonetheless be without star playmaker Mario Goetze, who will join Bayern after the game in a 37 million euros (£31.7 million, $47.8 million) transfer that has rocked German football.
With Robert Lewandowski, who scored four goals against Real Madrid in the semifinals, also reported to be in Bayern's sights, Hummels has urged his teammates to prove that Dortmund have a bright future of their own.
"It'd be fantastic if we could (win), and it might show the players who were thinking about going to Munich they'd be missing out on something," he said.
The former Bayern defender added: "The question of pressure doesn't arise because we have an opportunity here to win the greatest cup of all.
"It'd be the most fantastic story in the world so I'm just not thinking about losing."
Klopp's lighthearted press conference featured a meandering discourse on the relative merits of Munich and Dortmund as tourist destinations, but his opposite number, Jupp Heynckes, was no less relaxed.
The 68-year-old, who enters retirement at the end of the season, to be succeeded by Pep Guardiola, hopes to lift the European Cup for the second time in his career, after a 1998 success with Madrid.
Bundesliga champions by a record 25-point margin and scheduled to face Stuttgart in the German Cup final, Bayern are closing on a unique treble, but Heynckes dismissed talk of pre-match nerves.
"We have a generation of players who are a bit older – 28, 29, 30 – and for those players it would be the crowning glory of their careers," he said.
"For me as well, of course, but I'm a bit more laid-back because I've experienced this before with Real Madrid. For Munich, it's a really important match but for me, it's just another match."
Though Heynckes insisted he was not contemplating the prospect of defeat, failure to prevail over Dortmund would represent Bayern's third Champions League final loss in only four seasons.
Having been beaten by Inter Milan in 2010, the four-time champions lost a heart-breaking penalty shoot-out to Chelsea last season in front of horrified and disbelieving fans at their own Allianz Arena home.
Despite the keen anguish of that particular experience, forward Thomas Mueller said the thought of another shoot-out would not perturb his teammates unduly.
"Some are better at taking penalties than others," he said, "but I don't think anyone will wet their pants over it."
Nine years after almost going bust, Dortmund hope to repeat their shock 1997 success, when a young Lars Ricken, now the club's youth team co-ordinator, came off the bench to seal a 3-1 win over Juventus at Munich's Olympiastadion, with an audacious 25-yard chip.
Klopp's side have charmed neutrals with their breathless counter-attacking football over the last three seasons and he says that he will be proud regardless of Saturday's outcome.
"If this is the only final I play in my career, it's the perfect stadium and the perfect opponents," said the Dortmund coach.
"If I die in 60 years' time and this was it, it won't have been so bad."