To the older generation of football fans, they may recall the Spanish national team as consistently under-performing on the international stage, after becoming accustomed to round of 16 & quarter-final exits.
However, after years of never quite meeting expectations, Spain have become the nation ‘to beat’. In recent time we’ve seen a side who adopt a strict philosophy of pressing possession win two European Championships and one World Cup since 2008.
This reputation has certainly been reflected in the nation’s clubs, with the historic Real Madrid and dominant, consistent Barcelona running rampant in their domestic league and European cups in the not so distant past.
Real Madrid boast the record of being the most successful side in the Champions league, whilst Barcelona have had a lot more recent success in the tournament, as many Arsenal and Manchester United fans will verify.
Of course the biggest accolade we can give to the Spanish division is playing host to the two best players in the world, who are simply incomparable to individuals from across the world, however I’ll leave it up to you to decide which of the two is superior.
However a challenger to the Spanish superpower has arisen, I call your attention to the events that occurred on 23 & 24 March. The world watched on in shock as Germany’s Bayern Munich tore apart a robust Barcelona side, followed by Real Madrid crumbling under the constant pressure of Borussia Dortmund’s young, exciting squad.
Barcelona did not look up for the challenge that lay before them, allowing the likes of Robben and Muller to press forward and keep the Catalan defenders on their toes. Messi was not allowed to play courtesy of a solid Bayern display that capitalised on their chances to coast to a 4-0 victory over the Spanish champions, effectively putting the tie to bed before the second leg.
It was a similar story at Munich’s league rivals home ground, as Dortmund proved they deserve to be in this position, despite a somewhat fortunate quarter final victory over Malaga. In the build-up to the match against a frankly colossal European side of Real Madrid, many spectators expected a close, attacking affair with the most likely outcome being a Madrid win, perhaps due to the Dortmund squad being relatively inexperienced, with an average age of just 23.
Dortmund silenced all their critics by controlling the game for 90 minutes, with exceptional performances from , as well as the ‘12th man’ playing their part as we have seen so commonly in Dortmund’s home fixtures. İlkayGündoğan, Marco Reus and most notably Robert Lewandowski, who scored all four of Die Borussen’s goals.
The real question this Champions league round has brought to the public attention is whether we are going to see a shift in control of Europe’s biggest stage, and if we are entering the era of Germany’s clubs setting the new standard.
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