An all-German Champions League final is further proof the Premier League is NOT the best in the world
There is a rather wistful story doing the rounds. It is aimed at trying to eke out some sort of positive from a negative situation.
It is this. This year’s Champions League final is perfect for the English. A German team has to lose. Maybe even on penalties. At Wembley.
The story is bound to be greeted with a wry smile and an accepting nod of the head. When they are not conquering the world, the English quite like the feeling of being downtrodden. And, so the old saying goes, never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
For the truth is a first European Cup final between two German sides is not an occasion to moan. Old Trafford 2003, when two Italian giants did battle, was that. No.
Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are the two best teams in Europe right now without question. Providing they do not get sucked in by the enormity of the occasion, or gripped by a sense of fear that comes from losing the biggest of games to the biggest of rivals, the German invasion of Wembley will be one to celebrate not recoil from.
As Bayern flexed their mighty muscle in this season’s competition, scoring seven times without reply against Barcelona and Dortmund showed against a succession of opponents, including Manchester City, they were more than worthy of Sir Alex Ferguson’s pre-tournament prediction of them as the most dangerous of dark horses, some kind of revisionist view of German football took place.
It is utopia for the fans, with cheap tickets, safe standing and alcohol freely available.It is a lesson in management for the owners, with financial prudency and supporter interaction the key watchwords.
And it scoffs at the Premier League’s boast of being the best league in the world, with its competitive nature and its massive stadiums bursting at the seams. The assessment is not quite accurate.
We had the former, although standing rather than safe standing – it’s just that no-one in a position to do anything about it made a distinction between the two until it was too late. It ended in Heysel, Hillsborough and a five-year ban from Europe.
The second does not exist because the majority of clubs like pushing for the very best it is possible to buy. In the euphoria of 2008, not many Portsmouth voices were heard asking how a club of their size could afford the players who won them the FA Cup.
Only now are the rank and file QPR support nervously wondering about the cost of building the squad that got them relegated.
Germany is not perfect, where Dortmund had to sell their stadium eight years ago and very nearly went bust.The third is open to interpretation. Germany has had six different champions in the last 20 years, compared to England’s five.
Manchester United have won 12, Bayern Munich 11. Borussia Dortmund five, one fewer than Chelsea and Arsenal combined.
Amid the massive Bundesliga gates this season there was one of 14,425 for Greuther Furth’s home defeat by Mainz. It is wrong to say English football is inherently inferior to Germany, just it would be stupid to say one cannot learn from the other and vice-versa. You have to deal in moments of time.
And at this moment in time, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are the best, using the Barcelona template but shedding some of its more negative aspects, keeping the ball for the sake of it, in favour of trying to do something constructive most of the time.
The two sides on show – led by Jupp Heynckes for Bayern and Jurgen Klopp for Dortmund – boast Robert Lewandowski and Franck Ribery, Mario Gotze and Javi Martinez, Mats Hummels and Mario Mandzukic, six players who would find a place in virtually any squad in the world. And there are plenty more besides.
Instead of thinking about where the loser comes from, acknowledge the 58th European Cup final will produce its seventh German winner. And hope it is achieved by a team playing to the very maximum of its capabilities. Because if they do, it is going to be a hell of a show.