1942121

Andy James - archive

Andy James has covered the Bundesliga throughout its recent boom, following FC Bayern München to each of the last two UEFA Champions League finals.
Steffen Potter
by
Steffen Potter

Germany still in Spain's wake

The semi-finals are indicative of each country's recent success – and Steffen Potter expects a similar outcome to recent years and an FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF final.
 
 
Published: Wednesday 17 April 2013, 16.30CET

Germany still in Spain's wake

The semi-finals are indicative of each country's recent success – and Steffen Potter expects a similar outcome to recent years and an FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF final.

The two German-Spanish UEFA Champions League semi-finals should not be considered a surprise – the two nations, after all, have been football's dominant forces in recent years.

Spain's recent supremacy is inescapable. Not only have La Roja won the last three major tournaments, they have also tasted great glory at club level. Since 2006, FC Barcelona have won the UEFA Champions League three times and contended on a number of other occasions. Not far behind, however, are Germany.

©Getty Images

Spain beat Germany at the 2010 FIFA World Cup

Joachim Löw's side were stopped only by Spain at UEFA EURO 2008 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, while at UEFA EURO 2012 they succumbed to Italy to miss out on a final meeting with Vicente del Bosque's team. Germany's success has been largely attributed to better youth development which has, in turn, also helped the country's club game. People here in Germany are proud of the new style this generation of footballers is playing and are excited to see fresh talent flourish. In such a climate, clubs have been able to blood young players without concern.

There has, however, been the odd dissenting voice: Germany's development looks admirable on the surface, yet they are still not winning anything. FC Bayern München's 2001 UEFA Champions League triumph marks the last European trophy for a Bundesliga team, while the national side are without silverware in 17 years and counting.

I do not believe those pining for the 'good old days' are necessarily correct. Indeed I am more inclined to agree with captain Philipp Lahm, who recently suggested it was simply Germany's misfortune that Spain possess a squad that materialises barely once a generation. German football, it seems to me, has barely put a foot wrong in the past decade.

©Getty Images

Dortmund beat Málaga in dramatic circumstances

The clubs are healthy, the Bundesliga is a top product and the national team are playing beautiful, if sometimes not completely successful, football. That said, I think these Spanish-German semi-finals will end on a similar note. Dortmund have been brilliant this term in Europe, but it is clear they are likely to continue to struggle when attempting to compete both domestically and in Europe. Their squad lacks the necessary depth, which is why I expect Madrid to prevail in a two-legged fixture that comes towards the end of a strenuous campaign.

Bayern, meanwhile, have taken another step forward this season and against any other opponent in the world, I would see them as slight favourites. Not so against Barcelona. Whenever I watch them, I am in awe. Sure, they may not be the force they have been in previous years, but it is still incredibly difficult to oust them over two legs.

To me, German football is on the right track and would be well advised to continue in the same manner. If they do not appear to be there quite yet, I am waiting for Bayern and Dortmund to prove me wrong.

The opinions expressed here are the writer's own and not those of UEFA.

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/blogs/blog=ucl_blog_germany/postid=1942121.html#germany+spains+wake

Last updated: 17/04/13 18.46CET
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