Champions League final 2013: A primer for new fans

Joern Pollex

The final of the 2013 UEFA Champions League is today at Wembley Stadium in England between two German clubs. For all the new and casual fans planning on watching the game, we here at SBNation Soccer are here to help get you prepared.

Saturday, the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League comes to a close when Bayern Munich face rivals Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium in London, England. SB Nation Soccer is here to help new fans and casual viewers to the sport of soccer get prepared for one of the biggest annual events on the sport's calendar.

Just a quick reminder, if you're a soccer geek like us and you don't need to be caught up, go ahead and head over to our StoryStream with the rest of our coverage for today's match.

The European Cup -- or European Champion Clubs' Cup -- was first contested in 1955 and became the Champions League in 1992. It has become one of the most watched and talked about club tournaments in the world and last year's final drew 178.7 million television viewers worldwide.

Before we talk about the two teams and some players to watch, here's a quick explanation of how the final will work.

The Champions League final is a winner-take-all final for the European Cup, the biggest prize in European club soccer. As per usual, if one team is leading after 90 minutes, they win. But should the game be tied after full time, 30 minutes of extra time will be played -- broken into two 15-minute halves -- without sudden death rules. Both teams can score as many goals as they like during extra time and the 30 minutes will be played in full. If the score is still tied after 120 minutes, the match will be decided via penalty kicks.

Bayern Munich are the current Bundesliga (German league) champions and the most decorated team in German club soccer. Their 23 league titles are the most for any team and they've won the European Cup/Champions League four times -- 1974, 1975, 1976, 2001 -- more than any other German team. Last season Bayern Munich made the final but lost to Chelsea on penalties, so they'll be looking for redemption.

More from our team blogs: Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works

Three Bayern players to pay close attention to are Dante, Mario Mandzukic and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Dante is a Brazilian central defender who has risen quickly from a relatively unknown player to one of the top defenders in the game. He has been called up to the Brazilian national team and is on the cusp of breaking into their starting lineup. He could very well be a key part of their attempt to win the World Cup next summer. Dante will have the job -- along with his likely defensive partner Jerome Boateng -- of keeping the dangerous Dortmund attack under control.

Mario Mandzukic is a 27-year-old Croatian striker who will likely be the lone striker at the top of Bayern's 4-2-3-1 formation. Mandzukic has had a monster season and is a strong, physical forward that will give Mats Hummels (if he's able to play) and Neven Subotic troubles all day.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, one of the best midfielders in the world, plays in a deep midfield role between the defense and the attackers. One of his best talents is his ability to read the game and make excellent decisions, so much so that the current German national team manager Joachim Löw called him "the brain" of the national team. How important is Schweinsteiger to Bayern? They've only lost three games all season and Schweinsteiger didn't play in two of those losses.

Borussia Dortmund -- also refereed to as BVB (Ballspielverein Borussia) -- had won the last two Bundesliga titles before Bayern Munich reclaimed the title from them this year, but a win in the Champions League final would be sweet redemption. They've become a very popular team among soccer fans due to their young and talented roster, their charismatic head coach Jürgen Klopp, and the fact they play an attractive style of soccer. Dortmund have won the Champions League once, defeating Juventus in the 1997 final in Munich.

Dortmund are a historically big club with large support, but they dropped off into obscurity during the late 2000s due to financial mismanagement. Between their coach, their more responsible business practices and their fantastic youth academy, they've finally returned to their past glories.

Der BVB will be without their star 20-year-old attacking midfielder Mario Götze, who was unable to recover from a hamstring strain that he suffered in late April. Götze has become a controversial figure among Dortmund fans after it was announced at the beginning of May that he would joining Bayern Munich in the summer.

When watching the match, be sure to keep an eye on Ilkay Gündogan, Robert Lewandowski and Mats Hummels.

Ilkay Gündogan will be vital to Dortmund's success on Saturday with Mario Götze out. He'll either play a deeper midfield role or in the central attacking midfielder role in place of Götze, but no matter where he lines up, he'll need to have a big game. When the 22-year-old German international is on his game, he's one of the best passers of the ball you'll see. He's also known for having excellent technical skills and will need to be an engine in the BVB midfield.

Robert Lewandowski is a talented Polish striker who will need to have a big game for Dortmund. Lewandowski has scored 30 or more goals two-straight seasons and is another player who could be leaving the club this summer or next. Rumors have swirled around him joining either Bayern or Manchester United.

Mats Hummels is a German international defender and one of the best young defensive talents in the game. He's a big, strong player who is capable of playing in either a traditional central defense role or a defensive midfielder position. He's an excellent reader of the game and can often help start a Dortmund counter attack with his excellent long passing ability. Hummels is another player who could have a new team this summer, with rumored interest from Barcelona. Hummels has been compared to German legend Franz Beckenbauer. Hummels status is still in doubt after he sprained his ankle in Dortmund's final league match. If he can't play, Felipe Santana will start in his place.

Kickoff is at 2:45 p.m. ET. If you live in the United States, you can catch the game on FOX, FOX Deportes or FOX Soccer 2 Go.

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