UEFA Champions League Final Four is Germany and Spain

The final four club teams are from Germany’s Bündesliga and Spain’s La Liga.  Borussia Dortmund, Bayern München, Barcelona and Real Madrid have all been here before, but the matchups have been drawn to suggest must-see sports television at the highest possible level.

The matchups are Dortmund versus Real Madrid  and Bayern München versus Barcelona.  To add to the drama, the first games of both home-and-home series will be played in Germany and the final games played in Spain.  It takes very little effort to find metaphors to current events, and the German and Spanish fans will transfer a lot of their angst onto these matches.

Barcelona and Real Madrid have perhaps the two best strikers in the world in Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.  La Liga has produced a bevy of European Champions over the past several years and, alongside the English Premier League, has established itself as the dominant league for internationals in Europe. Barcelona has won two of the last four UEFA Champions League titles and aims to add a fifth to their trophy case total. Meanwhile Real Madrid is the most successful franchise in the Champions League with 9 titles, though they haven’t raised the cup since 2002.

Bayern München, like Barcelona, has four Champions League titles.  Their last win was in 2001, and they have the bitter taste of having lost to Chelsea in last year’s finals at their home Allianz Arena. München had a comparatively easy road to these semifinals by dispatching Juventus in an aggregated 4-0 shutout, during which München showed tremendous goaltending by Michael Neur and a stallwart defense in holding their opponent scoreless through 195 minutes.

Last year’s Bündesliga Champion, Borussia Dortmund had the most dramatic soccer game I’ve ever seen.  After traveling to Malaga and ending the game in a scoreless draw, ‘The Borussians” saved their offensive explosion for the last 2 minutes of stoppage time and saved their season in front of a insane crowd that up until minute 92 were fated to go home disappointed despite being heavily favorited to move on. “The Borussians” got 2 goals after mad scrambles in front of the net that left Malaga’s goalie down and out, leaving Marco Reus and Felipe Santana with open nets that eventually saved Dortmund from being bounced.  They moved on to the semifinals in most dramatic fashion.

Paris-St. Germain gave a valiant road game effort against Barcelona but it wasn’t to be as Beckham and team were turned away by tremendous goaltending and time eventually just ran out on them.  Lionel Messi didn’t start the game, but eventually would come in to contribute on a goal that was inconsequential to both sides. It was PSG’s task to score two goals on the road, and when that didn’t happen their season was over and they are left to figure out how they can get back to UEFA Champions League semifinal stage and overcome the hurdle that for most clubs is insurmountable in La Liga’s apparent prominence.