The semifinals of the Champions League will kick off on Tuesday as Bayern Munich will play host to Barcelona. In the other bracket, which will begin play on Wednesday, Borussia Dortmund will host Real Madrid. Itís the first time since 2000 that all the semifinalists are either from Germany or Spain, highlighting the intercontinental rivalry that has developed between both countries.
As a soccer nation, Spain has been top dog since 2007, winning the 2010 World Cup and the last two European Championships. Meanwhile, Germany hasnít won an international event since winning the 1996 European Championship, though they have been top finishers more often than Spain. Theyíve earned semifinal results in the last three World Cups and the last two European Championships, while the Spanish have more dated semifinal appearances, runners-up at the 1984 European Championship, and fourth at the 1950 World Cup.
Though players from all over the world represent Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund, the result of the Champions League Final holds serious bragging rights for Germany and Spain.
Both sets of fans have already clashed in support of their national teams, with Spain knocking out Germany at the 2008 European Championship and the 2010 World Cup. Starting Tuesday, Germans and Spaniards will clash over the strength of their respective soccer leagues.
While few dispute that both the German Bundesliga and Spainís La Liga are two of the best soccer leagues in the world, there is much debate over which one is closer to the top. The Bundesliga employs the German strategy: a brick wall defense and a relentless attack. La Liga: fluid passing and creative offensive movement. The Bundesliga is more of a dogfight, with a slew of teams in the middle of the league table fighting for top spots while La Liga is more predictable as it is dominated by teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid who are perennially at the top of the table.
Ideally, the Champions League Final, which takes place on May 25 at Wembley Stadium in London, would be between Bayern Munich and Barcelona, the current league leaders in the Bundesliga and La Liga. Both teams are so good that they each send a large percentage of their rostersí domestic players to play for the national team. So in many ways, a match between Bayern Munich and Barcelona could look a lot like a match between Germany and Spain, with just a few additions or subtractions.
So for those who are looking to stack German soccer against Spanish soccer at a high-stake setting, that match-up would be ideal.
Nevertheless, Bayern Munich and Barcelona will have to take each other out for a spot in the final. So that scenario is nonexistent. Still, a final featuring either Borussia Dortmund or Real Madrid would certainly not be disappointing, even though both teams are currently ranked second in their respective leaguesí standings.
All four teams thoroughly deserve to be in the semifinals. Each team finished first in its group. They've also ran through hoops in the knockout round.
Bayern Munich defeated Juventus by a 4-0 score in the round of eight, picking up an elusive win in Torino. Their German rivals Borussia Dortmund edged dangerous Shaktar Donetsk in the round of 16 and then Malaga in the round of eight.
Real Madrid downed Manchester United, last yearís runners-up, in the round of sixteen and then took down Galatasaray. And Barcelona fought off a 2-0 deficit against Milan in the round of 16 to win, 4-2, and move into the round of eight, where they appeared to have met their match against Paris Saint-Germain, but won in a penalty shootout.
So in truth, Germany and Spain are already bragging. The success of each semifinalist is proof that they are the two best soccer nations in Europe, if not the world. The only thing left to do is find a Champion.
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