Bayern Munich fans aren't known for their raucous stadium celebrations. But in Wembley they let out their id and shouted their team to success - sometimes to the detriment of their own health.
The smell of sweat and alcohol permeated the air on Deck 7 of the ferry from Dover to Calais on Sunday morning. It's impossible to look at the soccer fans' faces and tell who supported the winning team and who left Wembley Stadium on Saturday night with tears in their eyes. Whether they're wearing victorious Bayern's red and white, or Dortmund's yellow and black, everyone seems equally exhausted and no one is interested in wasting any energy with talking.
Saturday night they would have given everything if it would have put their team ahead during the Champions League final, but even on the trip to London, they knew not everyone would be traveling home happy. Bayern Munich's supporters had the honor this season thanks to a goal from Arjen Robben in the match's closing minutes. A goal that repaid all the fans' effort and dedication all season - as well as their endless vocal support in the stadium.
Change of mood in Bayern
Bayern's fans do not generally have a reputation for being the loudest in the stadium. But that all changed in London on Saturday night. Even before the match began, their singing - some may call it screaming - was rivaled only by that of Dortmund's fans on the other side of the stadium. The taunts and whistles reached ear-piercing levels and while Dortmund's fans quieted down after about 90 minutes, peace didn't come to the Bavarians until their voices failed.
Ten minutes before the final whistle, while some 30,000 raw voices crooned out the first of countless Teutonic-accented renditions of "Football is coming home," it was clear to everyone in the stadium and watching on TV that something big was happening in London. The British hosts - the few in the stadium - had hoped to see their teams, Arsenal London and Manchester City, on the pitch, but both were eliminated from the contest by German opponents. There was no question: German football is no longer a step behind the English - neither on the pitch nor off it.
Disappointment for the self-assured
Nearly all Borussia Dortmund's fans filed out of the stadium moments after watching their players collect their silver consolation medals. "You have to win, we can. That's why Borussia will win," they taunted Bayern Munich fans on the trip all the way across Germany and France.
Dortmund fans enjoyed the support of all Germany's non-Bayern fans in the fight against Munich's "deep pockets and tax evaders," but even this support wouldn't be enough for Dortmund to lift the Champions League trophy. Not even the cardboard crowns or yellow tour bus bearing the slogan "From Dortmund with Love" would get European club soccer's shiniest piece of silverware into Dortmund's hands. Instead, many of the Dortmund supporters could be found drowning their sorrows in the pubs near the stadium, reciting the old German soccer truism, "The game is 90 minutes and at the end the Bavarians win."
Unlike their counterparts from Dortmund, Bayern fans were hard to find ahead of the match. "We were saving ourselves for the final and didn't burn everything we had in the city ahead of time," one Bavarian fan said. The occasional red-and-white clad fan walking the streets of London before the game also appeared considerably more stressed out than the relaxed Dortmund supporters.
The match didn't do much for their health. "I'm going to have a heart attack," one said before a penalty kick by Ilkay Gündogan tied the game at a goal apiece for Dortmund. And fellow fans would have been forgiven for calling an ambulance after seeing how red a 60-or-so-year-old Bayern fan's face turned after Robben scored the final goal. Thousands of fists punched the air, as thousands of voices screamed with joy and relief, drowning out the gasps of horror and drooped heads of the other side.
In Wembley, Bayern Munich fans showed they knew how to celebrate. Whether their team will be able to continue the party next weekend in Berlin by adding the German Cup to the Champions League and Bundesliga trophies is yet another challenge awaiting clarification.