Football

Why Borussia Dortmund need to win the Champions League

Borussia Dortmund can book their place in the Champions League final this week (©GettyImages)
Borussia Dortmund can book their place in the Champions League final this week (©GettyImages).

"Germany 8-1 Spain" said the Daily Mail.

The Sun had a wittier headline: "Four-sprung Durtch Technik".

After Bayern Munich's 4-0 demolition of Barcelona, and Borussia Dortmund's 4-1 crushing of Real Madrid, the European press have seen fit to declare a changing of the guard: an end of an era for Spanish football dominance, and the birth of a new period of dominance for German club football.

Whilst both teams still have to return to Camp Nou and the Bernebéu respectively, it would take a miracle for either Spanish club to overcome their first-leg conquerors in the Champions League. However, the morning before Dortmund's match against Real Madrid, the German newspapers weren't reporting on their excitement for the upcoming match, nor were they still delirious about the symbolic match that took place the night before.

"Gotzë to Munich" screamed the headlines - and the timing could not have been worse.

Dortmund ended up winning comprehensively, of course, but this was not simply the act of Bayern's press team trying to destabilise their nearest domestic rivals before their big game - this represented something a lot bigger, something that has dire consequences for the idea of German club football taking it's place at the summit of the game.

The Bundesliga has always been the envy of European football for many reasons: clubs owned by supporters, cheap tickets to see even the biggest games and most clubs turning a profit year after year have all pointed to Germany's top football league being the best run in the world. Only one thing was lacking: the football itself.

I'm not trying to suggest that the quality of football in Germany is particularly substandard, but for years the Bundesliga would have been placed fourth in a list of the world's most exciting leagues and you would have been forgiven for thinking so. The Premier League, home of speed, physicality, aggression; La Liga, a home for the world's most technically gifted players; Serie A, the tactical battleground; Bundesliga? Well, it's economically sound and has one world-class club.

In recent years, however, the rise of Borussia Dortmund to rival Bayern under the stewardship of the brilliant Jurgen Klopp has attracted more and more attention to Germany - and now the Bundesliga can add the quality of football to its ever growing list of reasons why it should be considered one of the world's premier leagues.

Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels: they have - undoubtedly - one of the most exciting teams in the world. Bayern, on the other hand, have always had a seat at Europe's top table, so Dortmund's second consecutive league victory in 2012 had writers from across the continent salivating about the potential of German football, which after the events of last week, finally came to fruition and will very possibly come to a head on May 25 at Wembley - the home of football - to become the world's greatest league.

Except it won't. 

For me, the final is at risk of representing the end of Dortmund's era and continuing what has always been the case: the Bundesliga being a one-team league.

For Bayern, this is obviously not an issue. The have one of the world's most revered coaches coming to manage them next season, whatever the result, and all signs currently point to them being one of, if not the, greatest side in the world.

Tellingly, however, they also have another arrival signalling something more important: Dortmund's Gotze for £31.5m. With him and Pep Guardiola moving to Munich after the season's end, Bayern's rise to the top of the football pyramid this season is unlikely to be a one-off. It does, however, spell doom for Dortmund's hopes of creating competition in the Bundesliga, because not only have they lost their most (and one of the world's most) exciting players, they might be on the brink of losing another.

Lewandowski scored four against Madrid and is Germany's leading scorer, yet insider rumours suggest that he is also on the move. Who to? Well, guess. In fact, all of Dortmund's top players are being linked with moves away. Hummels to Barcelona. Neven Subotic to Manchester United. Sven Bender and Marco Reus to Manchester City. Where will this leave them?

Well, let's have a look. These players aren't going cheap, and Dortmund can look forward to an incredible amount of transfer income this summer and next which can be used to buy new players... except it isn't, and never has been, that easy.

Due to their focus on the Champions League, Dortmund have surrendered their grasp on the Bundesliga, something that isn't helped by Bayern Munich's frankly insane form. Realistically this couldn't be helped, as Dortmund's squad do not boast the depth of Bayern's and could only really challenge for one of the two titles, but it poses a huge problem for them. With the sale of their best players, two to their nearest domestic rivals, how can Dortmund realistically challenge for either competition next season with the not-inconsiderable shadow of Bayern Munich looming over them? 

There is only one thing they can do: win the Champions League.

Let's look at Chelsea for a minute. Their unbelievable run in the Champions League last season saved their skin; without it, they would not have competed this year as they only finished sixth the year before. However, this season they sit fourth, one point behind Arsenal with two games in hand - third place is there for the taking. Why? Because their win in the Champions League last year was a deciding factor in Eden Hazard's decision to move there. Oscar's, too. Juan Mata is in impervious form, David Luiz has finally removed some of the errors that have plagued him, and if the next manager can bring this group of supremely talented individuals together they may well challenge for titles next season.

But where would they be without that fortuitous win last year? Probably sixth again; maybe lower. Hazard would have moved elsewhere. Oscar, too. Barcelona were supposedly looking at Luiz and Real Madrid were looking at Mata. It would be a huge mistake to underestimate the draw of a club fresh off the back of a Champions League win, and looking at past winners and the players they attracted afterwards, I'd put money on it being above a giant pay cheque when it comes to a top player's decision making.

With a Champions League under it's belt, Dortmund could still attract world-class players to replace those who are leaving, and for probably less money than they gained for those they replaced. More importantly, they can continue to, along with Munich, show the world how great a league the Bundesliga is with the world's best two clubs duking it out. If not, they will sink.

Bundesliga will once again sit in the background, because the same team winning it year on year? Well, that's not exciting. That's not competition. Bayern may well come to rule the roost in the years to come and this 'new era' may well be theirs individually, but their competition will only exist in Europe. That's not exactly what I would call a changing of the guard.

If anything, a Champions League win would be a fine way to cap the three years that Klopp momentarily broke up the one-team hegemony, and send the Dortmund era out in style. But there's one little problem in their way. They have to win.

Who are they probably playing? Well, guess.

 

Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://bit.ly/12nAsNY

DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeFootball Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeFootball.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeFootball.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Topics:
European News
Football
UEFA Champions League

Article Comments

Trending

Read more