By Blaidd Drwg
I had given serious thought to doing a post on the NBA and Seattle or even the first active gay athlete in major professional sports in the US, but then I decided that, based on the happenings in the Champions League, that would be a more interesting post.
If you are not familiar with the Champions League, it is basically the World Series of European Club soccer. Each season, the top teams from all of the major leagues go through several rounds of games until one team is left standing and is crowned champions. This year, the semi-finals ended up with 2 Germany vs. Spain matchups with Bayern Munich squaring off versus Barcelona and Dortmund squaring off against Real Madrid.
If you follow European soccer at all, you know that Bayern, Barca and Real are considered to be 3 of the absolute best in the world. If you had asked me at the start of the semis who would advance, I would have put my money on Bayern and Real. It is a good thing that I did not.
Dortmund did not have the world’s toughest (or smoothest) path to the semis, although they did manage to make it through the group stage besting both Ajax and Manchester City. They knocked off Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 16 and barely got by Malaga in the quarter finals with 2 goals after the 90 minute mark in the second leg of their bout. If they would not have scored the second goal, Malaga would have advanced to the semis instead. Malaga and Shakhtar are both good teams, but not elite, so the expectation was going to be that Real would destroy Dortmund.
A funny thing happened on the way to the finals. In the first leg of Dortmund-Real series, Dortmund lit up an overmatched Real team to the tune of 4-1 with all 4 goals coming from one player – Robert Lewandowski. Real did not roll over and play dead in the second leg, scoring 2 goals in the last 10 minutes to take a 2-0 lead. Dortmund survived a furious onslaught at the end of the game and did not give up any more goals (a 3-0 Real win would have put them through to the finals) to advance to the finals.
Bayern, on the other hand, is on fire. They crushed Juventus in the quarter finals 4-0 aggregate and then utterly destroyed Barca 7(!)-0 aggregate in the semis. Keep in mind that Barca is the team with Lionel Messi, the goal scoring machine who is considered to be the best player on the planet right now. To beat the best club in Italy AND the best club in Spain is difficult at best. To destroy and dominate those two teams is virtually impossible.
If I were a betting man on the finals, how would I bet? Bayern has a 2-0-1 record against Dortmund this season and is 20 points up on them in the Bundesliga with 3 games to go. They do have one more game to play head-to-head on Saturday, but I suspect that Bayern won’t be playing most of their regular players. Bayern is on fire and going to be a heavy favorite on May 25th at Wembley Stadium and that is probably who I would put my money on. But a funny thing happened on the road to Wembley…