For anyone who had any doubts over the talent the German Bundesliga has to offer they were sent a strong message from the performances of both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the first legs of their Champions League semi-finals against Spanish giants FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
On Wednesday, the second placed teams and 2011/12 champions from the German and Spanish leagues went head to head at Signal Iduna Park. From the opening minute, Borussia Dortmund took the game to Real Madrid.
Both head coaches, characters and talented at their job had been in the spotlight before the game. José Mourinho, a Champions League winner with both FC Porto and Internazionale in season’s past, a popular figure worldwide and rated by many as the best head coach in world football for his achievements over the past decade.
Across from the Real Madrid coach on the touchline stood Jürgen Klopp. The charismatic, crazy, charming Borussia Dortmund head coach and transformed the club when he took over in the summer of 2008. Two league titles later, his side are now on the verge of playing in only their second-ever Champions League final. The first back in 1997.
The rest of the media spotlight on Mario Götze. Less than 48 hours before kickoff, Bild had broke the news that the Borussia Dortmund star was heading to rivals Bayern Munich in the summer.
Klopp, or Kloppo to fans one the battle in the first leg, with his side coming out on top 4-1. Polish striker Robert Lewandowski becoming the first player to score 4 goals in a single game versus Real Madrid in this competition. And the first hat-trick they’ve conceded in Europe’s elite competition since 1975.
Real Madrid’s away goal, scored by Cristiano Ronaldo 3 minutes before half-time following a mistake from a nervous-looking Mats Hummels. The centre-back wasn’t the strongest player in the Dortmund line up, but a top performance from Neven Subotic and outstanding performances from both Ilkay Gündogan and Sven Bender in front of them prevented the Spaniards from creating many chances.
Ronaldo had two more shots on target throughout the match, one produced a top save from Roman Weidenfeller late on. No other Real Madrid player tested the uncapped German goalkeeper.
José Mourinho didn’t rule out the possibility of Real Madrid overcoming a 1-4 deficit from the first leg when these two meet at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium next week. But a Dortmund side that has great counter attacking threats in Marco Reus, Götze and Lewandowski will make it difficult to allow Madrid back into the tie.
24 hours before Dortmund were taking Real Madrid to school, FC Barcelona couldn’t even musta a single goal against the 2012/13 Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. In one of the most one-sided Champions League ties of the season, the Bavarians ran out convincing 4-0 winners.
Thomas Müller scored a brace, whilst Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben also put their names on the scoresheet. The little Argentinian figure of Lionel Messi was kept quiet and didn’t look 100% at the other end of the pitch.
2001 was the last time a German team won the Champions League. Bayern Munich beat Valencia on penalties that season. The following year Bayer Leverkusen were beaten in the final by Real Madrid. Bayern Munich have been runners-up in two of the past three finals. With the second legs to come next week, Bundesliga teams are in their best position for a dozen years to bring the trophy back to Germany.
The final takes place on 25 May at Wembley Stadium, London, England.