The Bundesliga is rocking the Champions League. This season, for the first time ever, two German clubs have made the semifinals, seeking club football's biggest prize. Mighty Real Madrid and Barcelona stand in their way.
Four-time Champions League winner Bayern is in the semifinals for the second straight year.
But the defeat in the final at the hands of Chelsea in front of a home crowd dashed the club's dream of historic triumph in their own stadium in 2012. Bayern hit rock bottom in the penalty shootout defeat, rounding out a pair of seasons devoid of silverware.
Since then, they have regrouped. They took out their checkbook, bolstering their defense and attack by signing defender Dante and striker Mario Mandzukic in the summer, two new signings in particular who have exceeded expectations at their new home.
As the Bundesliga's wealthiest club, Bayern have a record of using the transfer market to weaken the competition – indeed now they are rumored to be after their main rival, Dortmund's star goal-getter Robert Lewandowski, whose contract expires in 2014.
Even after this summer's spending spree, Bayern upped the ante again. By signing Spanish midfielder Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao for 40 million euros ($52 million), Bayern set a new Bundesliga record, one unlikely to be beaten even by a club like Wolfsburg with the mighty Volkswagen behind them.
Bayern, founded in 1900 and one of Germany's oldest teams, have not only won the German league title a record 23 times - clinching it earlier in the season than ever before this year. Bayern also have the biggest fan base with 187,865 paid-up club members, compared to Dortmund's already impressive 75,000.
Bayern Munich's acquisition for next season of Josep "Pep" Guardiola, former Barcelona coach, gives the club the hottest piece of coaching property on the international market. And Italian champion Juventus' coach Antonio Conte last week predicted that Bayern Munich was set to dominate European football for years to come.
Uli Hoeness, the club's president, has said his team is ready to win club football's ultimate prize on May 25 in Wembley.
Bayern celebrated their 23rd Bundesliga title this month - with special thanks to coach Jupp Heynckes
Accepting Dortmund as real competition
Bayern's Hoeness is never one to weigh his words. He said last September that Dortmund was “a relatively regional thing, but Bayern is a global player.” At the time, he was made to rue these words.
Back-to-back, and now dethroned, Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund have emerged as Bayern's main competitor at home over the past two years.
Dortmund won the German league and cup double last season for the first time in 103 years of club history. Both titles came at the expense of Bayern Munich, who fell short in the league and were trounced 5-2 in the German Cup final.
Analysts praise Dortmund for the cohesion of their young, talented and adventurous team. The Polish trio of Robert Lewandowski, Lukasz Piszczek, and Jakub Blaszczykowski have combined with the club's home grown talents to play intelligently and instinctively.
Their style of play is quick-passing, hard-running and energetic, securing them a faithful fan base that was tired of slow possession football.
Dortmund's loss of Shinji Kagawa to Manchester United at the end of last season was balanced by the talents of Marco Reus, who joined from Borussia Mönchengladbach, and plays perfectly with his friend Mario Götze. Both of them have been running rings around the Bundesliga competitors.
But last year's Dortmund did clearly look like a side out of their depth in European competition, tumbling out of the Champions League at the first opportunity.
Return to semifinals
Dortmund did win the Champions League crown in 1997, but have now made the semifinals for the first time in 15 years. They took everybody by surprise when they survived what was the Champions League's “Group of Death” in the preliminary round putting even Real Madrid in their place - a feat they now need to repeat when it matters more.
It's not the first time Dortmund have been serious competition for Bayern Munich. At the end of the 90s, following two straight German titles (1995 and 1996) and a Champions League title in 1997, Dortmund were a force to be reckoned with.
But the success came at a cost, and the team's finances plummeted nearly to the point of bankruptcy, which was only avoided at the last minute in 2005. In fact, Bayern helped save Dortmund with millions in credit.
Since Jürgen Klopp took over as coach in 2008, though, things are only looking up for Dortmund on the pitch and on the books. And that looks likely to continue; he has signed on with Dortmund until 2016.
Both the German giants now seem set to bolster their accounts further with the television and prize money available after a strong Champions League campaign.