Two weeks ago the tie was virtually settled as I witnessed a punishing demolition in the home stadium of Sporting Lisbon by a rampant FC Bayern Munchen in the Champions League quarter final first leg 5-0.
Despite injuries to Hamit Altintop, Franck Ribery, Tim Borowski and Luca Toni there was no respite in front of 65,000 happy Bavarian fans in the Allianz Arena tonight. There is nowhere so dramatic as coming off the U6 subway from down town and walking towards the red glow of the stadium on a cold evening, in stark contrast to the warmth of Lisbon. The Arena glows FC Bayern red like a giant sunset, while for 1860 Munich Bundesliga II matches it glows sky blue and for international matches all white.
I had taken advanrage of a 20 Euro Bayern ticket to do a little sightseeing earlier in the day. You can travel all day, anywhere in this giant state from Salzburg in the east to Ulm in the west, to the Austrian border near Innsbruck in the south and to Nuremburg, Wurzburg, and the delights of the north. It also includes U bahn and S bahn in Munich and Nuremburg. For 27 Euros 5 people can travel together. Lindau attracted me, 3 hours to the south-west on the banks of Lake Constance -Bodensee. In the summer its humming with vacationers and day trippers, but was quiet as the many lake side hotels remained empty. Along the harbour with its famous lighthouse and Bavarian Lion there are photographs from the past, giant storms, ice skating when it was freezing, and the holiday ferry boats. Its also the land of the airship.
As I sped deep into the Algau the snow was thick, with giant snow banks turned over by snow ploughs and station workers. Lots of huge piles of logs under cover for the fireplaces, tiny footprints from small animals in the virgin snow, and well wrapped up school children at the many stations on their way home from school.
In the stadium it took just 8 minutes for Lucas Podolski to open the scoring with is first of two goals, and then an Anderson Polgas own goal. Moutinho scored the only goal for Sporting with a scorcher from 40 yds out, but Bastian Schweinsteeiger replied almost immediatly. Captain Mark van Bommel, a Miroslav Klose penalty kick and teenage substitute Thomas Muller completed the scoring. A 12-1 record thrashing for the Portuguese.
The home fans in the South Stand and all over the stadium were bouncing up and down and waving flags and singing the FC Bayern song- "FC Bayern, star of the south. You will never go down". Plus Go West by the Pet Shop Boys, " Stand up if you are a Bavarian", and many more songs including adaptions of Christmas carols. They were a happy, happy bunch.
Elsewhere Liverpool thrashed Real Madrid at Anfield 4-0 (5-0 aggregate), and Chelsea tied Juventus in Turin to advance 3-2 on aggregate, while the Spaniards, Villareal beat Panathinaikos in Athens.