From now until May 25, the main talking point leading up to the 2013 Champions League Final between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich will be the all-German matchup.
That said, we look at five players who are not German, and can have a major impact on the outcome at Wembley Stadium.
Arjen Robben | Bayern Munich
The Dutch winger is nearly impossible to contain when he runs at defenders. His combination of pace, agility, and finishing ability make him a nightmare for an opposition of any skill level.
Earlier in Robben’s career, he faced criticism for inconsistent play and an attitude that lacked professionalism.
At 29-years-old, the Dutchman now seems to be playing at his full potential. His timely goals and ability to draw multiple defenders have been highly influential in Bayern’s impressive run to a third Champions League Final in the last four years. He will need to be at his best in London if he wants to finally lift the Champions League trophy.
Javi Martinez | Bayern Munich
It’s a rare occasion when a Spanish footballer is thankful to not be a member of Barcelona or Real Madrid, but that’s exactly how Javi Matinez has to feel right now.
The 24-year-old is a rock in the centre of Bayern Munich’s midfield. His size and strength in front of the back four, along with his defensive awareness, allow Bayern’s creative players to go about their business. Martinez will have his hands full at Wembley. His task will be to break up an attack that the highly touted Real Madrid midfield and defense could do nothing about.
Robert Lewandowski | Borussia Dortmund
It almost feels as if the title to this piece should read, “Five non-Germans to impact the Champions League Final- besides Robert Lewandowski.” However, it is hard to resist the inclusion of the 24-year-old Polish striker.
The four-goal performance in the first leg against Real Madrid was more than a coming-out party for Lewandowski. Instead, he took a giant leap into the category of world class on the biggest stage in club football. It’s sure to be a busy summer for Lewandowski, whose name is being brought up more and more in transfer rumours. But his focus for now is sure to be on the Bayern Munich back-line that he knows so well from domestic league play.
Franck Ribery | Bayern Munich
Ribery, the only Frenchman on either club to make the Champions League Final, is the perfect compliment to Robben on the other wing. With a set of skills similar to Robben, Franck Ribery has the ability to single-handedly open up any defence. The two-headed monster that is Robben and Ribery creates a matchup problem that opposing managers dread.
Ribery possesses a great shot and killer playmaking instincts to go along with his athletic ability. As a right-footed player slotted on the left side, Ribery keeps fullbacks guessing every time he flies up and down the flank. His four assists in the tournament rank him third, tied with a handful of others. Considering Dortmund’s irresistible attack, Ribery may need one or two more if Bayern wants to taste Champions League victory.
Jakub Blaszczykowski | Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund plays a brilliant team game, and Blaszczykowski is a vital part of that. The 27-year-old from Poland, who joined the club in February 2007, usually plays down the right side of midfield. His pace ignites many of Dortmund’s counter-attacks, which they thrive on.
Blaszczykowski, who captains the Polish national team, is a veteran compared to the rest of the relatively young Dortmund lineup.
Also in his favour is the fact that Marco Reus occupies the opposite flank. Of the two, Reus is the player who will be getting more attention from the Bayern Munich defence. Reus, one of the many Germans on the team, has the kind of skill and creative ability that opposing managers must address in the game plan, and could ultimately open up space for Blaszczykowski to make a significant impact.
Which non-German player do you see making the biggest impact in the Champions League Final?
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