Mar 6, 2013, 4:28 PM EDT
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.
May 22, 2013, 11:51 PM EDT
Serie A’s two Milanese clubs have yet to move for new head coaches.
May 22, 2013, 11:06 PM EDT
Over the last three months, Rafa Benítez has reignited a floundering career.
May 22, 2013, 10:14 PM EDT
The hits just keep on coming for the NWSL’s hard-luck team.
May 22, 2013, 9:20 PM EDT
The U.S. Open Cup draws sometimes need a decoder ring to decipher. Here’s a quick-and-dirty look at the MLS teams’ futures.
May 22, 2013, 8:17 PM EDT
If PSG’s willing to take Rooney’s wages of their hands, Manchester United can justify moving on.
May 22, 2013, 7:32 PM EDT
Houston’s defensive leader sees his banned doubled by the Disciplinary Committee.
May 22, 2013, 6:47 PM EDT
Tom Sermanni has brought new talent into the national team, but it’s too early to know the extent to which the U.S.’s roster will see new faces.
May 22, 2013, 6:02 PM EDT
Cristiano Ronaldo will serve a two-match ban. José Mourinho will skirt it.
May 22, 2013, 5:26 PM EDT
Michele Beadle and friends take a look at what NYCFC means to the New York sports scene.
May 22, 2013, 4:44 PM EDT
We tend to beat up the Chivas organization for its off-the-wall strategic approaches and front-office instability, but what exactly is wrong with the team on the field?
May 22, 2013, 4:03 PM EDT
Yesterday’s announcement included few surprises ahead of the U.S.’s June 2 match at BMO Field.
May 22, 2013, 3:18 PM EDT
Well, what took them so long to get into the party?
May 22, 2013, 2:40 PM EDT
Looks like a mixed bag for the American trio:
May 22, 2013, 2:05 PM EDT
As the towering English forward weighs up his options, should he return to Liverpool, sign for West Ham or go elsewhere?
May 22, 2013, 1:40 PM EDT
With Dortmund’s main attacker threat out injured, can Dortmund still lift the Champions League trophy?
May 22, 2013, 1:15 PM EDT
Can the Yankees provide a viable option for New York City FC to play in? Of course they can. Maybe.
May 22, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT
They have owners and an employee, but now comes the hardest part for MLS expansion club NYCFC. The challenges ahead are daunting:
May 22, 2013, 12:21 PM EDT
The one accolade no EPL player wants on their soccer resume…
May 22, 2013, 11:05 AM EDT
New York City FC announces Reyna as first employee, a good first move, right?
May 22, 2013, 10:06 AM EDT
Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, Red Bull Arena… which venue could work best as a temporary home for New York City FC?
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