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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Germany Rising: Bayern Munich wins the Champions League 2013

Photo credit: Reuters

As the curtains closed on another magical iteration of the UEFA Champions League, it was two German teams on the pitch: Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. No Italian team, nor Spanish, nor English, French, Dutch or even Portuguese. Just German. And the way they got here, scoring 4 goals on perennial candidates Barcelona and Real Madrid in their home matches, just added to the accomplishment.

This isn't the first time two teams from one country reach the final. The same happened in 2008 with the Chelsea - Manchester United final in Moscow. Back then it was another tribute to the most expensive, most followed, and most emulated league: The English Premier League. Not so much anymore. Its champions went down early even United faltered near the end. Clearly, fate has looked another direction for choice.

Enter the Bundesliga. With perpetual contenders--and global brand--Bayern Munich, it might be easy to dismiss this league as not competitive. Not true. Aside from Dortmund and Munich exchanging wins during the recent decade, other standout performances abound: the 2008-2009 season was won by Wolfsburg, Stuttgart in 2006-2007 and Werder Bremen 2003-2004.

But today it was a different story on the pitch. Bayern Munich had the global influence, the impetus, the fans, the explosiveness of Mandzukich, Ribery, Robben, Muller, Schweinsteiger. In a match that was back and forth at times, it was always clear the clad in red had the upper hand, the swift passes, the intricate movements. The score might have been much more emphatic if it hadn't been for Dortmund's goalkeeper Weidenfeller and defender Neven Subotic. 

Although Lewandowski got close and Gundogan scored the equalizer, it always seemed clear that Munich had the upper hand in the attack. So when the ball came to Arjen Robben's foot and he controlled it, gauged its direction and tapped it into the net near the end of the game, it all became clear. This was the Dutch master's night and an appropriate sendoff for coach Jupp Heynckes. 

This night was an ode to German football. If 2010 showed how the national team was stacked with talent and power in Muller, Ozil, Khedira, Boateng, and recent years have brought us Mario Gomez, Gundogan, Schurrle, then surely destiny is welcoming them to a new sphere. The Germans may have faltered at the World Cup and Euro, but its club teams have now reached the pinnacle of soccer and allowed for the next phase in the development of this team: an international tournament.

Germany may have had its previous empires mired by tragedy and greed, solace and misfortune. For a people trying every day so hard to perpetuate their pride, despite their trials in history, the sport of soccer can offer a new perspective. Here they are kings, there are no guns or bombs or dictators or emperors. No on faults them for their achievements but instead emulate their style and development. For the German people there is just one truth: the love of the sport, the love of German football.

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