Posts Tagged ‘UEFA Champions League’

The announcer on FX of Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal questioned whether the powers where European soccer rest had changed over night.

Indeed, the answer might be yes. But overnight, no. These new kings have been groomed for some time.

Even without a team in the quarterfinals, no one is questioning the obvious staying power of the Barclay’s. Too much money and history rests within England’s prized league to even bat a lash at the notion. The well-respected Serie A figure to see Juventus and AC Milan anchor a relatively balanced league, while Paris Saint-Germain will mostly grab the headlines from France. All these seem to be relative constants.

The chapter on football in Spain has been one quite cemented as of late, too. As Messi goes (mostly), so do FC Barcelona. Ditto for Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid. They dominate La Liga (this may be the fifth consecutive year they hold the top two places in the league table), the domestic cup, and make lavish runs in the Champions League. Only Falcao, Atletico Madrid’s world-class striker who figures to be headed to England within months, has maintained any semblance of a challenger lately. But the lopsidedness has meant the league as a whole is far less intriguing to follow.

Has the world’s second-most attended sports league on a per-game basis (the NFL reigns supreme) been so vastly different? Germany’s Bundesliga has seen a bit more parity at the top, but this will almost assuredly be the second year in a row that Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund eviscerate their stablemates. Munich, affectionately known as “FC Hollywood,” sport a +75 goal differential. Dortmund stand at +39, so points are not the only evaluating factor for domination.

While these discussions of how the dominate clubs stack up in the hierarchy of the world’s best is partially based in aforementioned riches of domestic league dominance, the UEFA Champions League tends to be the concrete evidence presented yearly.

Based on this critiquing, La Liga have brought the best pair to the dance. The past three competitions have seen both the dominant Spanish clubs in the semifinals, and Barcelona, who won one of those, also took the 2008-09 campaign’s title. The Germans haven’t been absent, of course. The Bavarians have reached the finals two of the last three years, and FC Schalke found its way to the semis in 2010-11.

Suddenly, the world is taking notice of the Bundesliga this week, largely due to a combined battering of the Spanish giants by Bayern and Dortmund in the first leg of this year’s Champions League semifinals by a combined aggregate of 8-1. There’s a good chance Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s dominating results mean that May will see the first all-German Champions League final. They’ll dominate the discussion, and the Bundesliga will own the spotlight.

Bayer Leverkusen Andre Schurrle, 22, is another star of the Bundesliga who resides outside of Germany’s dominate duo of teams. Chelsea have had recent talks for the winger’s services.

 

Could you have seen it coming? You’d have to awfully look hard. Unless you own a sports-specific television package, chances are you don’t have GOL TV, which owns the rights to broadcasts stateside. Unlike the Premier League, games aren’t distributed throughout the dial on Fox Soccer and ESPN semi-regularly. Lesser in competition, Mexico’s Liga MX is now getting airtime on ESPN, too. Even “El Clásico,” the term given to matches between Barca and Madrid, often get the ESPN treatment once a year (plus the given Messi/Ronaldo highlights). Starting next season, the BPL will be far more visible here in America, too. Haters will deny it, but soccer is getting more popular in the good ol’ US of A. The ratings plainly prove it.

Other leagues will surely poach the services of young stars outside the Bundesliga’s two big teams, and chances are excellent that Dortmund and Munich will continue to dominate the rest of the decade. But stars like Polish international Robert Lewandowski, who netted all four of Dortmund’s goals against Madrid on Wednesday, along with other young stars scattered throughout the league, are breeding increasingly watchable soccer.

Does the Bundesliga need an elaborate deal like the BPL to reach vast American audiences? Not quite, but it seems time that a national audience should be treated to more of Bayern and Dortmund, especially when the two meet. In our age of immediate information and media that’s widely available, more fans should’ve seen the rise of the Bundesliga, and perhaps the shift in power both coming. Unless, of course, you couldn’t.