Posted by Nelson Dafe | 3 May 2013 | 4,449 times
The dust has settled, we have seen the finalists emerge for this year’s European Champions League. For the first time in the history of the premier club football competition of the world, we have two teams from Germany, Borrussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, qualifying for the final, which comes up in the famed Wembley Stadium on the May 25.
Football has a way of animating our passions, exciting our senses, and at times shaming
our self-professed knowledge of the game, and this season’s European Champions League has not been different.
Here are five things we must have learned after the semi-final matches that have given us an all-German final (instead of the widespread speculation that they would give us an all-Spanish final).
1. Guardiola was a special one in Barca
Many times, the argument had come up about the true impact that Pep Guardiola had during Barca’s recent glorious years while he was coach of the club. Many, including some football novices, had floated the argument that given the plethora of exciting talents The Blaugrana have in their fold, they, too, would have been able to achieve as much glory as Guardiola did. But with just the first season without the talismanic former Barca star at the helm, it is clear how enormous the task is of fashioning a Barca side that would conquer Europe again. Many fail to realise that to achieve, as much as Pep did, went beyond just having talented players. It includes knowing how to use the players in proper positions in the field, and managing their strengths, egos, and passions, while navigating several competitions, including the very demanding Champions League.
For Guardiola to have achieved all this in his first season in a team with infinite expectations as Barcelona, makes him a truly special one.
2. German dominance of club football has arrived
There is pretty much no doubt that with the presence of two German teams in the final of Europe’s football showpiece final, the supremacy of German club football has been confirmed. Silently, these two German clubs have steadily built themselves on a combination of sensible spending and innovative training methods, and now it is left for the rest of Europe to try to catch up.
3. Conspiracy theories should be ignored
How many times have we seen people in their personal and professional lives raise the white flag when faced with some challenges, believing that events beyond their control would conspire to rob them of their due? The answer for me is many.
When the draws for the Champions League semi-final were made, not a few believed that it was skewed to produce an all-Spanish final. To them, that is what the powers that be in UEFA wanted. With the two German sides playing the return leg away from home, it was nigh-impossible seeing any of them in the final. It was going to be a Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi final, that is what would sell more. So they thought.
The German sides however paid no heed to these conspiracy theories, and rather focused on preparing well for the huge challenges that they faced. In the end, self-help, concentration and self-belief, while ignoring the pundits, have proved to be crucial characteristics in sporting success in this case, and in life generally.
4. Good planning beats sheer riches
One of football’s finest managers, Arsene Wenger, has often laboured to argue that a team’s chances of success are not always linked to throwing huge sums of money around like confetti on acquiring players. He believes in identifying the right targets and moulding unknown but talented players into a collective group that would not only play exciting football, but also win, too. This philosophy has brought him much derision in recent times because of the success of some billionaire-owned teams that have stretched the limits of common sense by spending mind-boggling amounts of money on ready made stars.
However, Dortmund’s rise and strong showing, with players that cost them peanuts, compared to those of the Real Madrid side they beat, vindicates Wenger’s argument.
5. We have the prospect of an electrifying final to look forward to
Anyone who has seen the attacking luminosity of Dortmund and Bayern, their quick-passing and high-tempo pressing game, knows that the London final would be a cracker of a game.
•Dafe, whose photo appears alongside this piece, is a Benin City based freelance journalist.
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