Dortmund and Schalke show how Bundesliga tops Premier League
Borussia Dortmund and Schalke’s demolitions of Real Madrid and Arsenal serves as proof that the Premier League is no longer all that it’s cracked up to be, as far as European competition goes, at least.
Dortmund have flourished in their second successive Champions League campaign and, following on from their humbling of Los Merengues, have been cut as short as 10/1 to win the competition, having started out at 33’s, after being pitted in one of the toughest groups in the tournament’s history.
Jurgen Klopp’s side outclassed Real from start to finish and thoroughly deserved their 2-1 victory. Their game plan was to isolate makeshift left-back Michael Essien, knowing Lukasz Piszczek’s marauding runs from full-back would not be tracked by Cristiano Ronaldo.
This left the Ghanaian vulnerable, which Mario Gotze and Marco Reus capitalised upon, floating in and around the right of the Dortmund attack to devastating effect.
It wasn’t just this astute use of tactics that catered for the Dortmund win; everyone knows Ronaldo doesn’t defend. It took the high-calibre of players the Germans possess, along with the gusto to take on the world’s biggest club like they were just any old team.
This suggests that Real might need to alter their away-day game plan if they want to win the Champions League but, even still, it is difficult to envisage any Premier League club approaching that game with such adventure and self-confidence as die Borussen did.
Take Chelsea’s performance in the semis and final of this competition last season, for example. They were that terrified of Barcelona that they practically played without a forward both home and away and, were it not for the sheer good fortune of Barca spurning countless opportunities, they would have gone out as they deserved.
The final against Bayern was no different where they adopted a ‘play for penalties’ approach, as if they were a non-league side playing Man United. Fair enough, they got their name on the trophy, but it was hardly done with the brilliance and guts that Dortmund have showcased in this season’s competition.
Their performance at Man City speaks volumes about the Bundesliga’s superiority. The side who sit 12 points off the pace in Germany’s top division schooled the English champions in front of their own fans and were incredibly unfortunate not to win the game by three or four goals, let alone draw it.
City themselves are all but facing group-stage elimination from the competition for the second season running after defeat at Ajax, while all the German sides look likely to progress.
Schalke upset the odds when they turned up at the Emirates unfazed by Arsenal’s 45-match unbeaten run against continental opposition and cantered to a 2-0 win. They handled one of England’s elite as if they were a Sunderland or Stoke and, just as Dortmund did, they fully warranted their three points.
All of the Bundesliga, bar Bayern Munich, fail to match Europe’s big guns in the bank balance stakes, yet none seem intimidated by this on the continental stage, while the Premier League representatives have failed to live up to their billing as the best teams from the world’s strongest division.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date