In Bayern-Dortmund, some see a victory for German sobriety and common sense. They draw parallels between European football and the continent’s economic crises, with simplistic suggestions that Germany is both weathering the financial storms and is guaranteed Champions League victory at Wembley because the country and its football clubs are soundly managed and don’t overspend wildly.
Such arguments gloss over the fact that Dortmund was facing insolvency as recently as 2005; “it was the edge of the cliff, you couldn’t get any closer,” Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said last week. And Bayern, especially, is no different from other top European clubs in that it, too, spends massively to buy success and has used its wealth to weaken rivals, notably vacuuming up Dortmund midfielder Mario Goetze for next season.
Bundesliga chief executive Christian Seifert offered a fair assessment that put any talk of a German power shift into perspective.
“We are proud to have two teams in the final but it doesn’t mean we have 18 teams on the level. For 10 years the discussion has been why we have no chance to win the Champions League,” he said this week. “You can’t say `Wow, look what we have achieved.’ But in the last few years we have done more right than wrong.”
To argue that Saturday’s final is the shape of all-German things to come, one would also have to believe that the likes of Barcelona and its four-time world player of the year Lionel Messi won’t bounce back next season. One would have to ignore the Qatari wealth that is turning Paris Saint-Germain into a force and the fact that Premier League clubs will have even more money to lavish on top players thanks to broadcast deals which could earn 100 million pounds ($152 million) next season for the English champions.
Let’s also not forget that Dortmund reached the last four with an offside goal. Had its quarterfinal opponent, Malaga, advanced to face Madrid then the talk could have been of continued Spanish success, not German conquests.
So sit back, perhaps knock back a German beer or two and enjoy Saturday’s show from two fabulously dynamic and deserving teams.
But don’t make the mistake of reading too much into it.
John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at)ap.org or follow him at http://twitter.com/johnleicester