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Are we on track for an all-German Champions League final?

Mar 6, 2013, 4:28 PM EDT

FBL-EUR-C1-GER-UKR-DORTMUND-SHAKHTAR

The question in the headline is a bit absurd. The final UEFA Champions League bracket not drawn until after the quarterfinals (a round later than previous years), meaning we won’t know if Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will be able to avoid each other until Wembley. They may have to play for the right to get there.

So let’s engage in a bid of bad form and rephrase the question. Which two teams are most likely to reach Wembley, and are they both German?

See how cumbersome that is? Regardless, you get the point.

There’s little doubt Bayern Munich’s among the best teams in Europe. Given Barcelona’s recent struggles, Bayern seem to be on their own level. That doesn’t guarantee they’ll reach the final, but they seem the safest bet.

Among the tournaments other contenders are Barcelona and Milan, who meet next week. Paris Saint-Germain has the talent, Málaga’s defending can keep them in any match, while Juventus has shown the steel to compete with anybody. And, of course, there’s the José Mourinho-led Real Madrid, whose contenders’ credentials were affirmed by their win at Old Trafford.

But none of those teams look as good as Borussia Dortmund, a team whose Tuesday thumping of Shakhtar Donetsk forces us to consider the European landscape. This is a team sitting on two straight German titles that bested Real Madrid and Manchester City in group play. Their 3-0 win over Shakhtar was by far the most impressive result an opponent’s posted on the Ukrainians, a team that played Juventus twice.

If you’re judging teams by what happens on the field — whether that be the team’s isolated accomplishments or comparative results — Borussia Dortmund look as good as anybody. And their talent supports that stature. Robert Lewandowski’s an elite scorer. Mario Götze and Marco Reus are menaces at the next level. Ilkay Gundogen is one of the better central midfielders in Europe, while Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic form a formidable pair in central defense.

If you’re reading this, you probably already know Dortmund’s talented. But you also may not be used to the idea of “new” teams being contenders for Champions League. BVB is obviously not a brand new club (they won the title in 1997), but they’re also not Barcelona. Or Manchester United. Or Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or any of the other teams we’re used to competing for Champions League. They are, in that narrow sense, kind of new.

But look around Europe and you’ll see the symptoms of a continental shift. England will be out of Champions League in a weak. Italy has waned. Paris Saint-Germain’s still a project, and neither Barcelona nor Real Madrid are as strong as they’ve been in recent years.

And in the interim, Germany’s grown. Borussia Dortmund may have just lost a one-sided match to Bayern Munich, but it’s becoming and more clear that Bayern’s of another world. They’ve lapped the field, for now.

But as for that field, Borussia Dortmund may be the head of the pack. At least, their results hint they are.

So are we en route to an all-German final? It’s too soon to tell. But does Germany have the two best teams in Europe? That’s an easier question to answer.

  1. larryharry59 - Mar 6, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    Lets totally ignore that Madrid has peaked and has overcome their clubhouse problems that plagued them in the start of season. Team that beats Barca twice and United in 1 week? Nope, not gonna win the Champions League. Teams that beat Shaktar and Arsenal? Crown those guys champions!!!

  2. Dan - Mar 6, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    I generally agree with larryharry59 here, to a point. Although one has to consider the body of work, too. Bayern has, without question, been the most consistent club in the world this season – regardless of competition. Granted, Real are really hitting their stride right now. As a football fan, I would enjoy a Bayern – Real match in the Final and, in my mind, that would be the most fitting end to the tournament.

    • Richard Farley - Mar 6, 2013 at 5:01 PM

      If only we had some kind of recent head-to-head results between Real and Borussia Dortmund to reference …

      Real’s obviously a very good team. No doubt. But there’s obviously an argument here of BVB, and given how the teams matched up in group stage, it’s a very good argument.

      • larryharry59 - Mar 6, 2013 at 6:33 PM

        Yes a game that happened when Madrid were in a slump and had problems within the team back in November and October.

  3. korules - Apr 24, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    I take full credit for this.

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