UEFA Championship – A Bündesliga Final

The last time the Germans overwhelmed European defenses to cross the channel in overwhelming force was…never.  But the two German club teams, Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund – having outscored, outdefended and outplayed every other team in the European club championships, will face each other in the final to be held in two weeks in London’s Wembley Stadium.

Bayern München destroyed Barcelona, who chose to sit out the great Lionel Messi in apparent deference to the hopelessness of their situation. To add insult to injury, Barcelona even allowed an own goal that might as well have been by design because it was so effortlessly achieved. Thomas Müller continued his scoring prowess as he added his third goal of the leg.  Particularly terrifying is that München’s best players haven’t even stepped forward yet.  München is a well oiled machine and should be expected to roll in the final.

Borussia Dortmund went without Mario Götze for much of the game against Real Madrid, but it was another meaningless game that was technically won by the Spaniards but lost in aggregate.  A late couple of goals allowed the Madridistas to have a glimpse of what a miracle might look like if it were ever to occur, but it did not and instead they were left to watch the Borussians dance on the hallowed grounds of their beloved Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.

München and Dortmund will meet in Westphalia for a meaningless game of Bündesliga soccer. Currently München is 36-3-4 overall, including Champions and Bündesliga play. The Borussians are twenty points behind them and will just be playing for the fans’ delight.

The game on May 25th in England will come down to the play of the midfielders. Bayern München has Arjan Robben who’s an impressive player from the Netherlands and who scored the put-away goal for München.  Franck Ribéry caused the own goal and the Thomas Müller header and the list goes on and on.  Dortmund was without their best player and the man they will keep from München during the finals, which should effect the betting lines. Robert Lewandowski had a break which he rang off the high post in the second half when BVB were pressing. Still nothing, but had that and Ilkay Gündogan scored on the brilliant cross from Reüs, the last bit of time would’ve been far less dramatic. The game generates a lot of interest to see how the youth go up against such a strikingly power team as München.  It’ll be tough for those forwards to deal with the physical presence of a München team that’s currently the best in the world.

Dortmund is hardly without its threats. The pressure of Götze and Reüs will be a very tough act for München to stop. Lewandowski is hot right now and with the rest BVB should come out like gangbusters. This game could and should go to extra time and perhaps a shootout to determine the winner. If München were to win it would make for an exciting Super Finals in Edens Arena if Chelsea comes out on top of the Europa. Last year Chelsea beat München by way of Didier Drogba, who’s no longer with the team. All the big clubs in Europe have a transfer window starting on July 1st which extends to the day after the UEFA Super Final (8/30). Chelsea would be allowed to buy players for that matchup. This would draw world headlines if Chelsea were to have held the title for ten days only to lose it on May 25th. The game’s purse is set to be worth nearly five million Euros with three going to the winner. More importantly it comes with the moniker of being best in the world. Given the fact that Chelsea would have a transfer window in preparation of that game, it would be telling if Benitez bulked up as if he were the permanent manager. Certainly Fernando Torres could never slay these Bündesliga clubs.

Even if Chelsea were to be the unlikely winner in the Super Final, it would not alter the basic reality that Germany rules the club soccer world.  Borussia Dortmund and Bayern München put on the two best performances on the tournament thus far in demolishing their Spanish counterparts. Dortmund came from a very tough group and München was a super club heading into the inter-league play. The “random” lottery draw of matchups allowed an extremely rare set of circumstances for this final to occur. Particularly ironic because München took the league from Dortmund this year, even though Dortmund dominated like none other and came into the tournament with a phenomenal team. Dortmund had some extraordinarily dramatic moments to get to where they are, and have one of the best teams in the world. Since all things can be reduced to a baseball analogy, Dortmund is the Miami Marlins of European club soccer.  The youth, balance and skill currently in Westphalia is something remarkable. I really enjoy Dortmund’s success and their participation in the finals. I even love that they are being broken up at the end of the season in order for Bayern München to maintain its strangle hold on Europe.  The drama of these two teams meeting twice is going to make for dramatic headlines leading up to the match. Lewandowski future is still undetermined, but is expected to be given a big payday. Gündogan wants to leave for the EPL, and Reüs is someone who should dominate wherever.

München should win, and will be expected to win, however the game in Westphalia on Saturday will be some epic viewing and the idea that these two teams would meet two weeks before the biggest game in German Football would be something extremely tough to script. Lewandowski will be hassled so much by Goméz and his size it won’t be as easy. Real Madrid was smaller, whereas Müncen is very big and physical; their goaltender is like none other in the world. Roman Weidenfeller was impressive, but his composure down the stretch was tested. Coordination will be critical during set pieces when the bigs are allowed to be moved upfield.

If indeed BVB were to win their magical journey would continue as one of the youngest most gifted set of players to ever be put together. They would put their stamp on European history.  The team’s oldest player is its goalie at 32.  BVB’s Götze, Reüs, Lewandowski, Bender and Gündogan are all under 25. Their speed and elusiveness could hamper the counter attacks of München, who showed off their ability to do so with ease today and last week. Having posted a huge lead and not having to work that hard could allow some to think that München might be complacent.  Unlikely.  Dortmund will have the two weeks of rest to study tape, prepare, and even see them in a regular season away game where the crowd will be taunting München players. Expect tickets for that game to go through the roof in Germany. Westphalia Stadium seats close to 83,000 people during a Bündesliga League game and it should be standing room only.

Bayern München will be an easy 3/1 favorite with their kind of striking power, but don’t expect them to tip their hand come Saturday.  Also expect Jürgen Klopp to rest his key players for the rest of the time leading up to the Final.