And we have a new king…

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!!

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  1. Robben was fantastic and I am so happy for him but now he needs to win the final!!! I like Borussia but I want Bayern to win and I’d love Robben to score. It’s time to silence his critics. I still don’t know how can they talk shit about him when he has done so much for Bayern, actually he has been one of the reasons they’ve reached 3 UCL finals.

  2. Germany will be very difficult to beat but in football anything can happen.

    We will have a good mix of players for 2014 maybe with some very young players who could use more experience but I remember it was LVG the one who one the UCL with kids in 1995 so having young players along with experienced players in the team might be a positive thing.

  3. “””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….”””””.But except Roben no one stands a clue in front of Germans,that is a fact too.Vaart was there but not anymore.i do follow bundesliga but i was annoyed with Luuk and Elia particularly.Afaleey and huntlaar are good for schalke they were inconsistant and were injured.
    by the by Article is great and about facts…cheers

    1. In those last years, the bundesliga was the best destination for dutch players.

      Van der Vaart had been an idol for HSV, he brought them to the C1 in 2006, Mathijsen had been a regular and good defender there, N.De Jong was quite irregular but still good, even Boulahrouz had been in the best eleven of the championship in his first year. If you look, they all left HSV for better teams (Real, Malaga, Manchester City, Chelsea).

      Elia was really good hist first year with HSV, he just spoiled his career because of his behaviour .

      Babel did it good with Hoffenheim with the first trainer, Braafheid also, Brouwers always correct with Gladbach.

      Well the only real exception is Engelaar with Schalke, he was quite bad.

      1. @Laurent i was telling the present facts,like u said past was good Especially Joris and vaart.where we stand infront of these current Germans?
        Gotze Vs Afellay
        Hunter Vs Gomez
        Vaart Vs kroos
        Luuk Vs Muller
        there is singinficant quality differnce except in Vaart case but kroos is young and gives more balance to team..

  4. I wonder what influence Van Gaal had on both Barca and Bayern. He might not complete his work but I see the same pattern. When he came, he brought the Ajax 95 passing style to these teams.

  5. LVG posses autocratic leadership,in a way its good,he is creative and visonary and he understand players better than others.but i was always worried about his approcah to defence ,A strong steal defence is the base of all victorius teams
    1998-Desily-Turam-Blans-Lizarazu-Frnace with deshamps and maklele
    2002-Cafu-Luzio-Rockjunior-Carlos with gilberto silva as holding mid
    2006-Cannavaro-Nesta/Materazi,Grosso,Zambrotta-With Gattuso
    2010–Pyuol-Pique-Ramos-capdevilla with busquets
    Now we have
    Janmaat-Devrij-BMI-Blind with strootman
    wher we stand now aganist a strong team??????????may be things will change soon………

  6. Actually I see similarities in style of play between AJAX 95 and the current Bayern team, and even the current NT team. The style of pressing/pressurizing the opponents, compact and fast speed down the wings is certainly effective. It requires all players with high energy/stamina to execute though.
    I believe our current NT team is evolving/developing well in this style of play. Credit to LVG really at this moment.

  7. Jan – I think Ribery will not be moving to Madrid and I do see Robben at Juventus, not Galatasaray. I dare to say Jupp Henckeys takes him with him too. I actually think Sneijder might come back to Italy too.

    Bayern without Robben would have drawn 0-0 yesterday. But the masses in Munich hates him and so does the leadership in the team: Rumminge and Sammer. You can also tell that both Kroos and Ribery do not like him.

    Last but not least, yes Robben is a one trick pony – now show me how many players would be willing to solely take him on one-on-one.

    He has delivered in big games already, now let us see which other Bayern player does. As far as I remember they failed as a team in UCL 10, 12 and during the last 2 Euros. Bayern less Robben is a good team. Bayern with Robben is a team that can challenge for 3 trophies at the same time.

  8. Germany will be very strong because they will be playing together week in week out but Holland has a very good generation.

    RVP, Robben, VDV, Sneijder, Huntelaar, Afellay with the new faces as Strootman, Clasie, Maher, Van Ginkel, Indi, De Vrij, Lens, Narsingh, Fer, Blind, Van Aanholt, Janmaat and so on….

  9. Tnx Jan,
    Yesterday i saw a rooben who i like after 1 years. he dribbled players and running with balls with confidence, i didn’t see him like it in last year, i think he find his way to back to his best, i hope injury give time to him to play more and be one of top 5. and also top 3 above Van Persie.

    1. I surely hope so – I think the constant doubt from German management made him doubt himself. I see a different since he exorcised his demons after he scored the winning goal against Dortmund.

  10. Robben has won 6 league titles in the past 10 years or so, in four major football leagues:

    Chelsea x2
    Real Madrid
    Bayern x2

    Apart from players in leagues where only one or two teams dominate, I wonder how many other players can boast this kind of record. It really seems to be an amazing feat, and one hardly duplicated in modern times.

  11. Bayern has 2 probably best wingers in the world with Ribbery and Robben (Bale is up there too; I do not consider Ronaldo and Messi wingers anymore). When they play well Bayern will dominate. I like the way they attack from the wings.
    It will be good that Ajax can buy Maher and Van Ginkel, I hope this will happen.
    From Jason DeVos, a Dutch-Canadian (former Canada national team captain) on TSN:
    Following the 1998 World Cup, in which Germany suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Croatia in the quarterfinals, German football took a good long look at its collective self in the mirror. And it didn’t particularly like what it saw. So, in typical German fashion, they decided to fix it. They replaced their youth development model with a new one; a model that required all German Bundesliga clubs (there are 36 clubs in two divisions) to run centrally regulated youth academies. These academies have been a key factor in the production of players for Germany’s national teams in recent years. Dr. Reinhard Rauball, President of the League Association in Germany, said this of the new academy system: “For all clubs, the compulsory introduction of academies for young players in 2001 was the building block which laid the way to a successful future for German football. Today, ten years later, we can enjoy the fruits of the labour of those academies.” However, it wasn’t just the introduction of professional academies at the 36 Bundesliga clubs that lead to Germany’s seeming conveyor belt of talent.
    The German football federation (Deutscher Fussball-Bund or DFB) also established a network of training centres across the country, aimed at developing the talents of Germany’s best young players. Partnerships were established by the DFB with clubs, regional associations and schools, all with a singular goal in mind – to develop the full potential of Germany’s players.
    This required significant investment by the DFB – the “Extended Talent Promotion Programme” alone is reported to cost around $13 million per year – but has clearly paid dividends for all stakeholders. German coaches and players, both male and female, have every opportunity imaginable to develop their talents, and the country now has a development infrastructure that is second to none in the world of football.
    You can say that they follow JC’s vision, focusing on youth academy development, like Barca and Ajax…

  12. Now the whole world is talking about Germany and it’s normal but I think they aren’t doing much more than the Netherlands.

    The only difference between Germany and the Netherlands is that Bundesliga clubs can hold their big names while Dutch clubs have to sell them but the quality of new Dutch players is really good! and we’ve got plenty of new faces although Germans will have the advantage of playing every week together.

  13. Robben is amazing!!!

    Everyone talks about Pep being this coaching messiah but to be honest he inherited a top team in Barcelona who he just tweaked slightly and had a player by the name of Lionel Messi now he is going to inherit an unstoppable Bayern… I’d love him to take over a club who is maybe not in the to 2-3 like a Spurs, Liverpool in England or a Schalke, Leverkusen in Germany and turn them in to the top of there respective leagues and a serious champions league contender

  14. Miguel, Germany is a much bigger country, in a way bigger pool of soccer players, and of course bigger economy than Holland. If it is down to ratio, I’m pretty sure Holland comes out on top. Germany is in a long dry spell, pretty success since 72 to 96 but no title since then. Holland, well, since 88. I think the expectation for Holland (i’m sure we are qualified) is Quarter Final in WC 2014, but I hope that we surprise most critics in QF, SF then win the first WC. If we did not make history to be the first European to win outside of Europe, then we will be the first one to win in America (North or South). How about that?
    I’ll cheer for Robben to win CL, and perhaps would like to see Ola John playing well in Europa League final in Amsterdam (?) and win EL as well. Wasn’t he suspended last Benfica’s game and now eligible for the final?

    1. yes, Ola was suspended, and replaced by Gaitan. He’ll be available for the final.

      I hope Muenchen and Benfica win CL and EL respectively, so Ola John and Robben can have their showdown in Super Cup. 🙂

  15. @Stijnis: I couldn’t agree more!. Guardiola is a great coach but he has inherited 2 champion teams as you said.

    Guardiola is great but he is too mediatic unlike Heynckes who is also a great coach but he doesn’t get too much credit for what he’s achieving.

  16. I am hating all this hype about German soccer now, I started watching soccer in 1988 when there was this fierce rivalry between the netherlands and Germany and the netherlands were considered the attractive and talented side vs the “dry” German style!!! Now comes van gaal and brings the total football to bayern and their bastard president denies it and doesn’t give any credit to van gaal!!! I always hated German football and considered it ugly but I have to be realistic and say this generation they have is good and plays attractive football! But I will always hate them. In conclusion I am footballistically depressed because I am used to ppl talking about attractive Dutch style now they talk about German style! Damn it:)

  17. I hope this new generation can be more influentional on the stage with big team, I have high hopes for clasie, strootman, maher, BMI, van rihjn would be nice to see them stars in teams like barca man utd chelsea and other big teams! Because this current generation????? Van der wiel bench in psg (second choice after jallet), emanuelson was bench in ac milan, elia bench in werder bremen, Anita bench in new castle, van der vaart plays for hamburg!!!!! The big three only van persie impresses, robben was bench till kroos got injured and sneijder where does he play??

  18. i really liked how Muller stopped Jordy alba to help roben to was nice to see the the spanish divers get cheated in a high quality way of cheating.Cheating with brilliance.Muller plays for the team and he is unselfish.if a team plays with 11 unselfish players that is the team to be most feared.
    Guys many of dutch players were hyped at least by dutch fans.but am sure clalsie,Maher,Ginkel,strootman,Devrij,BMI,Van rhijn will make their own name and they will reach top.Mainly due to their attitude they are not cocky or idiots,they are capable of giving us a WC if they are getting good leadership,support,skill and workrate from seniors.Unfortunatly only 2 seniors players are good to play with them ATM..thats the worrying point…..

  19. According to transfermarkt, germany squad has merket value close to 500€, most of new talents have now valued 30-40€ (Mario Götze,Thomas Müller,Mesut Özil,Marco Reus,Tony Kroos)

    Whilst Netherlands squad is valued at under 200€, which half come from RVP-vaart-robben-sneijder. The rest of younger generation mostly valued between 1-10M.

    Sadly these are the same players which were competing against Götze, Reus, Kroos in European Championship U17 and U21 in 2009.

    Do their market value tell the quality of Germany team?

    Interesting to see the new dutch talents generation born in 90-95 compare against Germany and Spain in uropean Championship U17 and U19 in June 2013.

    1. I don’t get your message.

      “Sadly these are the same players which were competing against Götze, Reus, Kroos in European Championship U17 and U21 in 2009.”

      Who ? Netherlands wasn’t playing the U21 in 2009 when Germany won with all players from 88/89.

      About U17, they beat us in finale, but the only one international from there they have now is Gotze, and the only one we have is De Vrij.

      Our -17 won’t play the final round of european championship this year, they failed against Italy and Norway. Well, we were champions in 2011 and 2012, so it’s not so important.

      Interesting to see that the 8 qualified teams are : Austria, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Croatia, Italy, Russia, Ukraine.

      No Holland, no Spain, no Germany, no France, no England, no Portugal, no Belgium…

      We will play against Germany with U19 and U21.

  20. Thanks Laurent
    I meant U19 and U21.

    I should say
    “Sadly these are most-likely the same players which were competing against Götze, Reus, Kroos in European Championship U17 and U21 in 2009.”

    As I did not check into that detailed, I was referring to same age group of players (88-92)that most-likely played in U17 to U21 in 2009 either in the final or qualifications and not necessary played against each other. Those players who are now pert of senior teams. From our sides e.g strootman/ narsingh/ fer/ wijnaldum/ de vrij etc.

    Its hard to understand that those players have been so much more developed and appreciated because they play in bigger league.

  21. Wow, impressed by Robben’s play against Barca in both legs. Maybe the best he’s played in years: High work rate, all over the field, playing for team and scoring. Well done. Why is Bayern bringing in Guardiola when they were great this year? They don’t need another coach!

  22. Maybe the German wants to see how Guardiola coach, learn and then figure out a way to beat Spain?
    Robben is easily the best player in the CL semi-final. I think he is hungry to win CL, same hunger you can see RVP to win EPL.
    I’m looking forward to see Robben winning CL, Ola John winning Europa League, and RVP winning Europe Golden Boot (and perhaps Player of the year)?

  23. No Idea why a talent like Jos Hooiveld hasn’t gotten a run out for Holland when even medicore talents like Ron Vlaar and Glenn Loovens, Jeffrey Bruma, Kew Jaliens have!! watch him game in game out, what a brilliant defender!

    Jos Hooiveld (vs Tottenham)

    His distribution from the back was impressive early on and he also had Defoe under wraps in their physical tussles in the first half. His partnership with Fonte was at times outstanding.

  24. Well deserved title. Now all I hope is that we get to keep some players and try to do well in Europe next year. Let’s prepare the season way ahead unlike last year. AJAX!

  25. As I had tried to predict a few months ago, Ajax came on top with Psv a good second. Psv is the only team apart from Ajax capable of getting through Champions League preliminary rounds in my opinion. Vitesse faded away towards the end of the season, just like most of Rutten’s teams. Feyenoord lacked character and a game plan that could give them confidence. I mean, look at how Ajax play and how other teams play… I never had the impression Ajax could lose a match, apart from the 0-2 against Vitesse. The way they play gives them mental strength in my opinion. They know that they are capable of controlling the game. It was a fantastic Eredivisie, and also today many great matches. NAC’s “remuntada” against Roda was fantastic, from
    1-3 to 5-3.

    1. i think like u, i like Feyenoord, but when i see their game, i cannot imagine they play with big teams, without Pelle, i like what happened in this week and see PSV get second place.

  26. FdB is the third coach to win the Eredivisie with Ajax for three seasons in-a-row , and Guess who are the other coaches . the Great Johan and LVG !

    As Jeff Said , by good preparation we can go far in the CL next year .
    Last year , Borussia Dorumond were only able to get 4 points in the group stage in CL , although their group with Arsenal , Olympiacos and Marseille is much easier than Ajax group .

    Marco van Ginkel and Adam Maher can be a fantastic add to the Midfeild .
    FdB has to find better central defenders and a top striker , too .

  27. I agree with you Mohamed. The fact Dortmund went far this year is a good omen for Ajax. Clearly the team is building and it is all about the playing style, the uniquely Ajax playing style. For me the first and 3rd goal today are typical Ajax goals. The way we play makes it almost impossible for anyone in the Eredivisie to beat us because we always have 60-70% possession. The only time we will lose is if we literally give it away.
    This was the year for PSV to win with all their new players and recruits, and Ajax almost in disarray at the beginning of the league. The fact Ajax won is truly remarkable. Kudos to F. De Boer. He is truly incredible. There are lots of articles in AD and VI about him and how he managed to win without any true superstars. Now the goal is Europe.
    As for Feyenoord, I am not surprised. Koeman is just an average coach. I don’t think he will do better next year. He has already peaked. Without Pelle, Feyenoord would not have made the top 5.

  28. Hi Jan,

    Great article. Would like to get an email address for you. I wanted to share a few views with you. Could you post your email address? or i could give you mine.

  29. To Jeff and all other Ajax fans: Congrats.

    Deserved champs and here is hoping Ajax can do something extra special next season in terms of getting past the groups stage of the CL. Good for Ajax and good for Dutch football.


  30. PSV’s second place might be a reason to stay one year more for Strootman and Van Bommel. Lens, Toivonen and Hutchinson are the probable departures. I also think PSV can sell Pieters and Matavz,who have no future in the club. Would give a last chance to Wijnaldum next year.

    It would be good if Afellay would come back one year, like Babel did this year with Ajax. He is in a difficult position, I don’t think Barcelona will keep him, PSV can be a good solution for him.

    Afellay as number ten, Mertens on the left, Narsingh right, they just need to buy a good striker. The danish guy Cornelius seems to be a good choice, I would prefer Bony or Altidore but I doubt they will stay in the dutch league.

    Locadia, Depay, Wijnaldum as subs…Of course they also have to bring at least 2,3 good defenders.

    1. PSV will find hard to replace Lenz,Bommel is almost done by age,Strootman is getting offer from big clubs..I would be happy if PSV focus on Depay,Locadia and other young brilliant talents with likes of Vanbommel as mentor.

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