The first-legs of the Champions League Semifinals have raised many eyebrows, but what are the implications of them?
Two shocking results in the span of 24 hours. The soccer world was stunned as the two Spanish giants were dismantled and blown away in Germany. Suddenly, the headlines were out: “Germany topples Spain”, “A shift in power”, “Germany, the best in the world.” It was as if in that 24 hours, all credibility and power which Spanish soccer had was lost, and a new power had taken over, at that very instance. The Germans had become the world leaders in two nights, because they had beaten the best of the Spanish. However, that is not quite the case.
Take nothing away from the performance of the German sides, they were absolutely sublime. Each team played to its strengths, found the weaknesses in its opposition, and took full advantage of them. Bayern seemed to be slight favorites going into the match, but no one could have predicted the emphatic score line beforehand. They were simply ruthless, allowing Barcelona to enjoy their usual position, but finishing every opportunity they had up top. If there was one word to describe it: efficiency. Bayern made every chance and possession they did have count, and the final result reflected that. Bayern targeted the young Barca defender Barta ( and as an Arsenal fan I can’t help but notice Song, a so called auxiliary center back, floundering on the bench as the youth product was preferred ahead of him, ha!) and made life completely uneasy for him. It was uncharacteristic shambolic defending from Barca at times, but as noted before, it has always been Barca’s defense which has been its weakness. They were rather toothless in attack as well, but the defensive lapses will have cost them dearly heading into the second leg.
Arguably the more surprising of the results was that of Dortmund’s easiness in getting past Madrid. While they had caused Madrid trouble during the group stages, the games were usually tightly contested affairs. In this game though, the team in yellow shows up to play, and Lewandowski especially gave a performance of the ages. It was a finishing clinic for him. The first goal came from predatory striker instincts of being in the right place at the right time, couple with an immaculate touch. The second showed composure in simply placing it into the back of the net. The third was a sublime turn and finish, neatly showing off an agile skill set. And the fourth was a penalty oozing with confidence from one of the top 5 strikers in the world. Dortmund came to play, and Madrid, led by the seemingly outbound Mourinho, had no answers.
Both results were emphatic, but is this really a shift in power, or is it too early to tell? The Spanish sides have been on top of the soccer world for years, and don’t suddenly lose their touch because of two games. A freak result or two here does not change the over arching trend immediately. It will take both German sides completing their passage into the final, along with a strong German showing in the European competitions next season, for there to really be evidence of the advancement of German soccer past the Spanish for the best in the world. Madrid perhaps have given themselves something of a lifeline with a crucial away goal, but will still need a lot to break down this Dortmund side. Barcelona on the other hand have their work cut out for them, needing to score 5 goals without conceding to progress, which seems to be highly unlikely with this rampant Bayern side.
With Bayern already acquiring Goetze from Dortmund, and Lewandowski reportedly on the way, there is no telling as to how strong Dortmund will be next year, and if that will be enough to continue the German climb to the top of the soccer ladder. Both sides have placed themselves in pole positions heading into the return legs in Spain, but they still need to get the job done. They will look to avoid what the national team tends to do, they blaze their way through to the quarterfinals, before crashing out in the semifinal stage (Euro 2012, World Cup 2010, World Cup 2006). If they succeed, the Germans will have temporary status as top of the world. Should they continue it, that’s when supremacy can be claimed.
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