Pitchside Europe

  • Ligue 1 Team of the Season: PSG dominate

    After a season in which Paris Saint-Germain ultimately eased to the Ligue 1 title, it is to be expected that the capital club are well represented in our Team of the Year, but the fine seasons enjoyed by Marseille and Saint-Etienne means that their leading players also make their presence felt.

    PSG's charge to the championship only really began after coach Carlo Ancelotti started using a loose version of a 4-4-2 formation, while Saint-Etienne and Lille are leading exponents of 4-3-3. However, this team is based on the 4-2-3-1 formation still widely used elsewhere in France's top flight.

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  • European Match of the Weekend: Dortmund v Bayern

    The all-German Champions League final on Saturday pits traditional powerhouses Bayern Munich against modernists Borussia Dortmund at London's Wembley Stadium with more at stake than Europe's premier club trophy.

    BORUSSIA DORTMUND v BAYERN MUNICH: LIVE SATURDAY 7.45PM

    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

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  • If Muhammad Ali was once named the Louisville Lip, perhaps Juergen Klopp deserves to be known as the Stuttgart Smile. That famous grin regularly spreads across his face, goofy and infectious, whether provoked by one of his schoolgirl giggles or helping to deliver another memorable sound bite. Klopp’s mouth must be the most distinctive in the business.

    But, thanks to Bayern Munich, the the perma-grinning, endearingly wacky Borussia Dortmund coach has had little to justify that smile of late. Deposed as Bundesliga champions and knocked out of the DFB Pokal by Jupp Heynckes's all-conquering side,

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  • Heynckes eyes fitting finale to stunning career

    Jupp Heynckes’s last Bundesliga match was more emotional than anyone predicted, but if the legendary Bayern Munich coach wants to end his career with the high of a Champions League victory he’ll need to stop a poor run of form in big games against Borussia Dortmund.

    The day before Alex Ferguson’s 1,500th and last match at Manchester United ended in a bizarre 5-5 draw at West Brom, another veteran coach saw his Bayern team win a crazy seven-goal thriller against the club closest to his heart, Borussia Moenchengladbach. United blew a 3-0 lead but Bayern came from 3-1 down to win 4-3.

    Heynckes,

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  • There is a term that exists in the famously expressive German language that has become attached, somewhat unfortunately, to Michael Ballack. After losing a number of major finals, the once great midfielder became known as 'der ewige Zweite' - 'the eternal second'.

    Ballack, it is said, was cursed on the very biggest occasions - a curse which begun when he was a runner-up in the Bundesliga, the German cup and the Champions League with Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 as the club earned the nickname Neverkusen for the most agonising series of near misses.

    Though extensive domestic success followed with

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  • Klopp’s swift Goetze call a mini-masterstroke

    Borussia Dortmund's star player, Mario Goetze, is out of the Champions League final. There's no way to spin this as a good thing.

    The fans may have turned against him in light of his summer move to Saturday's opponents Bayern Munich, but he remains a key player for Dortmund.

    Or rather, remained, because his thigh injury means he has played his final game for the club.

    It's a big blow for a team that need all their big guns firing against a side that finished 25 points ahead of them in the Bundesliga table.

    But ruling Goetze out three days before the final is the smartest move Juergen Klopp

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  • Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich: Head-to-head

    Saturday's all-German Champions League final at Wembley features two vastly accomplished sides who play a similar brand of football.

    But which of Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich have the more talented players?

    Tom Adams assesses the likely starting XIs...

    BORUSSIA DORTMUND (4-2-3-1)

    GK: Roman Weidenfeller (Champions League appearances in 2012/13: 12)

    The Dortmund keeper has a reputation as a smart shot-stopper and has amassed 266 Bundesliga appearances since joining the club from Kaiserslautern in the summer of 2002. Weidenfeller has never been deemed good enough to join the prestigious

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  • Flawless Javi Martinez key to Bayern’s Wembley hopes

    A year ago this week, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Hans-Jorg Butt was the captain of his team in a friendly against the Netherlands.

    The 38-year-old had enjoyed a wonderful career playing for Hamburg, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich. He was involved in three Champions League finals. And lost all three.

    First, when his Leverkusen side reached the 2002 final against Real Madrid, a game remembered for Zinedine Zidane’s perfect volley - but by not Butt.

    "We were 2-1 down and I headed wide of the post in the final minutes," he says. Not for the first time, Butt’s name would have been on the

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  • The secrets of Juergen Klopp’s success

    One of Juergen Klopp’s most memorable lines this season was his take on Borussia Dortmund’s rivals and fellow Champions League finalists Bayern Munich back in March. “Right now,” he said, “it’s a bit like what the Chinese do in economics or industry. Watch the others and plagiarise what they do. Take the same path, only with more money and other players. And for the moment, you will be better again.”

    For some imitation is the highest form of flattery. But not for Klopp. Bayern, he felt, had copied Dortmund’s playing style, their 'gegenpressing'. How unoriginal. A month later, it would also

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  • Bayern v Dortmund: Champions League final key battles

    Ahead of the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, we take a look at some of the key battles on and off the pitch.

    First let's start with the men behind the teams - they couldn't provide more of a contrast.

    1. Heynckes v Klopp

    Jupp Heynckes is a wise old head, with a glittering CV boasting titles in several countries. He is a Steady Eddie as opposed to charismatic genius, although his success highlights how underrated a stable guiding hand can be for the big clubs with messy dressing rooms. It is a shame he is retiring as he has turned Bayern from a bickering

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