The Champions League Semi-Final first leg matches probably saw the announcement of a new world order, as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund decimated FC Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.
European football breathed a new lease of life after undergoing what is being seen as a change in world order. The established Spanish giants were jolted and shaken up by the youthful zest of two German teams whose rise though slow and steady has been out there for all to see. The results were surprising indeed but the manner in which the Spaniards were dismantled raised eyebrows and left many a jaw fall to the floor.
Barcelona faced a tactically smart, deligent and highly disciplined home side at the Allianz Arena. Bayern weren’t flashy by any means, they just stuck to their task, and boy did they do that well. Right from shutting down Busquets by pushing him further back to choking Iniesta with their own Spanish asset in Martinez, Bayern hardly put a foot wrong throughout the game. Busquets is easily Barcelona’s most vital cog with his defensive nous and initiating attacks from the back. Heynckes did a good job educating his players of this. Right from the off Muller and Gomez pressed the Barcelona midfielder, not only forcing him to concede possession but also harming Barca’s transition play and forward momentum after winning the ball. Pique hasn’t looked anywhere close to his best this season and his forward haring only came back to bite the Catalunyans who left themselves porous at the back for Robbery to add too their misery. Javi Martinez’s role in the side can’t be overstated. Pure destroyers seem to be a thing of the past and Martinez himself is far from one with a great passing range, but against Barca, he was asked to sit, mark and nullify Andres Iniesta. Both he and Schweinsteiger kept the midfield maestros Xavi and Iniesta quiet for the entire game. Bastian was immense himself, keeping tabs on Xavi, pushing the ball out wide, initiating counters, taking the odd shot, he did it all with immense efficiency. The fact that he had Martinez to cover his tracks, meant he could play more fearlessly, rather than the restricted role he played against Madrid last season and more recently against Juventus in Italy. Without a functioning midfield and a hapless defence, there was only one player to get out of jail for the 4 times European Cup winners. Unfortunately unlike against PSG, a wounded Messi couldn’t have a similar impact, and with the Germans being tight and maintaining their shape, it was a lost cause. The result didn’t lie.
After Bayern were done demolishing Barcelona, they did their best to derail Dortmund’s chances of making it to Wembley with the potential signature of Goetze, not many could have seen what was coming. At least Jose couldn’t. The ferocity and pace from Dortmund hit Madrid unaware. The battle of Ozil-Goetze was clearly won by the latter who kept floating into wide areas throughout the game. Ozil on the other hand was highly unifluential getting stuck to the right to avoid overcrowding the central midfield where Mourinho started with Modric. The Croat played deeper than usual and often Real had huge gaps between their midfield and forward line, something that only came back to hurt them. Ronaldo was ineffective despite his goal and the fact that he doesn’t track back was smartly capitalized by Klopp often double teaming Coentrao with Kuba and Goetze. The latter was everywhere in the attacking third expertly hovering from one wing to other, drifting at free will. A massive scoreline as it is, the away goal would keep the Borussians on their toes in the second leg.
European football has had the same forces fighting out for the big prizes year after year, and that is something that makes this a potential watershed moment. In no manner will Barcelona or Real Madrid disappear into oblivion from this point on, but the rise of new forces and powers is all too visible for their comfort. Bayern have been the also rans for some time now but have reason to believe this could be the year the big trophy lands in Munich after a near perfect domestic campaign. Dortmund on their part almost shot themselves on the foot by prioritizing the Champions League thus meekly surrendering the Bundesliga to Bayern, but it could be worth it. What shouldn’t be forgotten is that despite the humongous scorelines, no team has reached the final yet. Wembley is still 90 minutes away. Atleast. But all signs point towards an all German final. Mario Goetze can’t lose.