Created on 12-08-2010 at 00:00 AM
Fully 33 years after he left Bayern for New York as a senior player, Franz Beckenbauer is to benefit from a testimonial match in Munich. And for the Kaiser, only right royal opponents will do: Real Madrid visit the Allianz Arena on Friday. The Spanish superstars and new boss Jose Mourinho have promised to treat the capacity crowd to a full-strength line-up.
“This is long overdue. We need to remedy what was left undone at the time,” commented FCB chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, regretting the lack of a fitting send-off when Beckenbauer joined New York Cosmos in 1977. “It wasn’t like Bayern. Franz is the greatest personality in the history of the club,” the chairman continued.
Prior to kick-off against Real, Bayern will finally and officially say farewell to Beckenbauer, who stepped down as President of the club last November in favour of Uli Hoeneß and was immediately named president emeritus. However, there will be no special honour or award for the 64-year-old. “He already possesses all the honours Bayern has to give. We had to think of something new,” Rummenigge explained. Instead, the club will make a “substantial donation” to the charitable Beckenbauer Foundation.
However, Friday’s match is not merely ceremonial in character. The Real clash is the last genuine test for Louis van Gaal and his team ahead of Monday’s cup trip to face Germania Windeck, and the Bundesliga restart fixture against VfL Wolfsburg a week on Friday.
Opponents of legend
“I’m really looking forward to it. It's a huge match against a team which has been up there at the top in Europe for decades,” said Philipp Lahm. Even a friendly against Real Madrid was “a massive challenge. Every player looks forward to games like these,” Lahm continued.
Thomas Müller echoed the defender’s comments. “There’s something legendary about Real Madrid. It's good to be testing ourselves against opposition like this before the season starts. If you’re going to play friendlies in pre-season, I’d rather it was against Real Madrid than FC Dingolfing, because the bar is set so much higher. We’ll need to dig pretty deep on Friday.”
World Cup winning trio
The men from the Spanish capital will be without Brazil midfielder Kaká, a long-term injury absentee like Arjen Robben for Bayern, but Real are expected to field World Cup winners Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos, plus the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuaín and newcomers Fernando Carvalho and Sami Khedira.
By contrast, Van Gaal intends to rest a handful of his players, specifically those who featured for their countries in midweek. “They can’t play two games in three days,” said the FCB boss, who is thus likely to name a clutch of reserves among his substitutes.