Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Germany Ascendant; Bayern and Dortmund Romp

What an incredible two days of the Champions League! Both German sides have stunned their Spanish opposition with huge home results. I argue that playing the home game last is far more favorable against hearty opposition but Bayern and Dortmund proved that playing the home game first can be just as favorable.

Bayern Munich travel to Barcelona with a 4-0 scoreline and the knowledge that they completely dominated their opposition. Messi, the wizard of inspiration against PSG, was out of spells and tricks against Bayern. He painted a figure of an injured player that didn't have answers to Barcelona's questions. Bayern Munich capitalized on the weaknesses of Barcelona; they retained the ball well and dispossessed Barcelona in midfield while pressuring their weak defense with great attacking movement and utilizing their chances at set-plays. Barcelona defends well because they don't have to against the majority of their opposition, but once they are put on the back foot their defensive weaknesses are glaring. The scoreline is a bit harsh due to two glaring facts: Gomez was offside for the 2nd and Jordi Alba was fouled right before Robben scored the 3rd. However, Bayern dominated the game and were the only team to truly threaten the opposition's goal. Barcelona again are left asking questions due to a tactical flaw; possession does not win games, goals do. They continue to lack any form of a Plan B when it comes to scoring goals and Bayern Munich exposed this with aplomb.
Robert Lewandowski, you just raised your price tag to over 40m pounds easily. Borussia Dortmund, the Cinderella team of the tournament this year, pulled off another huge result for Germany. Dortmund bossed much of the first half but let in an equalizer before halftime to put this tie into question. I do not know what Jurgen Klopp said to his boys but they dominated the second half and came away with a 4-1 win in Dortmund and in front of the Yellow Wall numbering at approximately 25,000 fans. This game came on the tail-end of heart-breaking news for Dortmund fans; Mario Gotze's buy-out clause was paid by Bayern Munich and he would play for them next season. This could have demoralized the team to the point of tragic results but Jurgen Klopp rallied his troops to put on an awe-inspiring display in Dortmund. Mario Gotze and Marco Reus played brilliantly in Dortmund's attacking band with Gotze leading passes in the attacking third and Reus with successful take-ons.
Jurgen Klopp brilliantly had his men press at midfield to dispossess Madrid quickly and completely disrupt any rhythm in their attacking transitions. Madrid were largely unable to attack or counterattack at pace. Once in possession, Dortmund's approach in the final third utilized the space on the wings and attacked Madrid's fullbacks; Madrid tried to attack through a highly congested midfield zone as evidenced below.
Honorable Mention must go to both of the German sides' double pivot midfielders. Javi Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sven Bender, and Ilkay Gundogan shielded their defenses superbly and transitioned play quickly and efficiently. They really are the engine rooms for their respective teams.

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