With a little wink to that other Oranje news that dominated the media ( another clueless person can now dress up for all sorts of festivities and wear a crown and wave at the masses, thinking “what have I done to deserve this??” ), I am of course referring to Bayern Munich taking the crown from Barcelona as the team to beat.
For a decade almost, Spanish football but in particular Barcelona dominated the football pitches with their skillful play, their artistic abilities, their winning ways and their magic.
Football analysts drooled over one another to explain how great it all is and clubs from all over the world (in Australia even) tried to emulate the Barca way.
But yesterday night, in the Camp Nou, the fabulous football machine got a second dressing down within 7 days. Football lessons, the Dutch newspapers called it…
And the club that has been so tremendously influenced by Johan Cruyff ( as Pep Guardiola this week again confirmed in an interview with Spanish paper “Sport”: “We owe Cruyff our eternal gratitude”) has been kicked off the throne of Europe (although Dortmund won’t agree with me yet) by a club that was influenced tremendously by….eh…well….actually Johan Cruyff again….
It does seem that the somewhat one-sided game play of Barca has finally been countered in the right way by the South Germans. Mourinho did it earlier on with Inter Milan (and Sneijder), in 2010, but he did it in a fairly unattractive, destructive manner. Jupp Heynckes and his team have done it in a way that even led the Barca socios to applaude them. With passionate forward pressing, with impressive individual play (Robben, Ribery, Lahm) and with tactical prowess and leadership ( Schweinsteiger, Muller).
The Kings are Dead (for now) and Viva the new King. Sehr geil.
I have never been a Bayern fan. And I have always been a huge Barca-man.
And I still am, but this Bayern is something else. Since the Louis van Gaal days, Bayern has impressed me. With good football, sure, but also with the way the club is managed. I still don’t like the numerous attacks on Robben/Van Gaal/Van Bommel etc by icons like Hoeness, Rummenigge and Beckenbauer. But… Bayern is a tremendously run club.
And this is what I like most about this upsurge of German club football (I really don’t like their national team, so lets hope they keep on sucking like they do for decades now….). They play positive football, with good attacking style, on great pitches in fab venues and they are able to do this while balancing the books!
Something they can’t do in Spain or England (yet!!). Yes, I’m talking to you too, Barcelona!!
It is always easier to sign big name players if you do not have any financial regulations to take into account. “Sure, let’s get C Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzema and Modric in. Who cares…?”.
Well, I care!!
So I was delighted to see how CR7 choked again in a big match and to see Ozil miss face to face with the (excellent) Dortmund goalie. I was also delighted to hear Mourinho say that he will move on. I think his three years at Madrid can be seen as disappointing.
I won’t mention the Dortmund – Real game too much in this post. I think Borussia deserved it though, and I really like their team too. But fair is fair, with some more killers up front, Real Madrid could have been up 2-0 in the first 15 minutes and I think they would have exited the Germans in that case, with a vengeance. Somehow, Real switched off aftter 60 minutes of play and almost handed the game to Dortmund. Who also were not sharp enough in front of goal, thinking the tie was theirs already.
But Madrid will be back, as long as they can spend spend spend.
Barcelona will most definitely be back. Because with or without financial fair play, they have football in their dna. They have the youth academy, the charisma and the vision.
Valdez, Puyol, Villa and who knows who else might move on to other clubs, Barca will return. Neymar is rumoured to sign for Barca, just like Hummels might join them and Vorm is on the short list to succeed Victor Valdez. THere is certainly still a lot of life in this Barca team. I can see a Paul Scholes sort of career ahead for Xavi for instance. But Barca will have to diversify a bit. Bring some more game play options to the pitch. Maybe that Dortmund striker would be a good signing for Barca too??
I can see Bayern win the DFB Pokal and the CL trophy. I think they earned it. Their loss against Inter was deserved. Inter was the better team on the night. But the finals against Chelsea last year should have been won by the Germans. A certain Arjen Robben will remember that night…
And then next season, with Pep Guardiola, who knows what will happen?
I can see Gomez moving on and Ribery might be making his big move to Real Madrid finally.
With Gotze coming in, I can see Pep moulding the Munich team like the Barca he brought to domination. The main thing he did, was to eliminate the static central striker and place Messi as a Cruyff like roaming center forward/playmaker into the team. Something Gotze and Arjen Robben can easily do.
Robben, who impressed immensely in the two Barca CL games, might be on his way out though, as Galatasaray apparently are prepping a mega offer for him, to reunite him with his buddy Sneijder.
But whatever happens with Robben, the Bundesliga and German football in general took notice of what happened in Holland, around the 2000 Euro tournament and realised they needed a shift in vision.
Since 2000, the German youth system delivered exciting players ( Schweini, Muller, Kroos, Reuss, Hummels, Gotze, Gundogan, Ozil, Draxler, Hunt) and exciting coaches too… And all that, while carefully managing their finances as well.
I noticed that with more Dutch players now active in Germany (Van der Vaart, Robben, Huntelaar, Afellay, Dost, Luuk de Jong, Elia), I am watching the Bundesliga more and more and I do like what I see….
A quick word on Robben…. He played tremendous for Bayern every time he came on and with Kroos sidelines, Robben again is a mainstay and powerhouse for the Bavarians. It does feel like he has changed his game a bit. He plays from the right for his club while LVG uses him preferable on the left, so at Bayern he does come inside a lot, allowing Lahm the right flank and as Robben’s first goal showed, he comes inside with great effect.
It seems like he is a bit less selfish though. He is quick to pass (as he did on that opportunity when it was 0-1 and Ribery crossed the ball to Robben, it seemed Arjen wanted to flick it on to the striker. But like Ribery, he puts in a lot of work. He seems to be playing smarter and more like a team player. Less speed, for sure, less trickery but more a team player. I think Robben could be a great playmaker as well ( in the second half, Muller played from the right a lot, and Robben drifted more).
Whatever people say: to me Robben is in the top 5 of best players in the world, with Messi, CRonaldo and RVP. Who is number 5…? Yaya Toure? Zlatan? Bale? Rooney? Something for another post topic :-).
Lets hail the new Kings, and mark my words: this year, a German club will win the Champions League!!