Thoughts on the Champions League Final 2013

I have been thinking of creating a blog for a while, putting my thoughts of the football world from a student of the game’s perspective into words. After just watching the Champions League Final between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, and listening to the discussions of the dominance of German football this season, left me with an urge to put my thoughts forward.

In recent years we have seen the complete dominance of Barca’s ‘ tiqui-taca’ football grace the European stage, where they have dismantled teams through their sheer technical ability, gradually wearing down concentration and energy of their opposition. Leading to many believing they were and would continue for many years to be the leaders of world football. However, this season has been the Germans year. Dortmund have shown their brilliance of quick counter attacking football, played with high emotions and enthusiasm, whilst Bayern have completely dominated the Bundesliga with a clinical brand of football, utilising their quick wingers (Robben and Ribery) ability to perform at a high intensity offensively and defensively.

But why the sudden rise of superiority of these two sides? Would anyone of thought last season that this year Bayern would of beaten Barca 7-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals of the Champions League?

Well, many people have discussed the brilliance of Barcelona, stemming from La Masia, where the future talents who dream of playing for the first team are developed and moulded into technically gifted, extremely hard working football players. Barca’s dominance in recent years has widely been attributed to the efforts of Johan Cruyff, who sold the idea of ‘Total Football’ (developed by Rinus Michels in the 70’s) to Barcelona in the 80’s/90’s, who were at the time a team who didn’t play the attractive brand of football we associate with them today. Through the recent years, the work of Cruyff and Barcelona over 10-15 years have provided us with a truly mesmorising squad of footballers who have won everything in the game, and have also heavily contributed to the rise of the Spanish national team.

Listening to the build up of the CL Final this year, from an interview with Jurgen Klinsmann, and the discussions with pundits and ex pro’s post-match, I was able to feel a sense of what has been brewing in German football over the past few years.

Michael Ballack mentioned how the disappointment of the German national side in Euro 2000 (where they finished last in their group, only managing 1 point), was the turning point in German football. From then, they decided to invest in youth football from the grassroots level. Changing the philosophy of how football is run, and how the game should be played. This new brand of football, we can now see coming into fruition on the European stage, and I am fully convinced we will see the dominance of Germany on the international stage too in coming years. Players like Bender, Neuer, Boateng, Hummels, Gundogan, Reus and Gotze among others will be here for many years to come.

I believe English football can take a good look at how investing in grassroots football, through a change of philosophy (with emphasis on development over winning) and through investing in opportunities for young coaches to develop, can lead to great success in the future. I do think we have begun to take steps forward as a nation, introducing the FA Youth Modules, which focus on player development and use of innovative coaching styles, instead of the original route (level 1, 2, UEFA B etc.) which focuses heavily on stop stand still coaching (boring for player and coach in my opinion – however are vital in other areas and are also needed). We just might see in 10 years time a shift in national football fortunes to English dominance on the international stage.
If that is the case, I just hope we can put our own stamp on how to play the game like the Germans have done tonight.

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