Germany dominate Champions League
Published: 15.03.13 / Written by: David Gold
In the 1990s Italy were the dominant force in European club football.
AC Milan were the continentís best team, briefly usurped by Ajax, but then Juventus took Europeís top crown and ensured Italy continued to rule the roost. They led a gaggle of teams, including Fiorentina, Lazio, Roma, Inter Milan and Parma, who were a threat to any side from Europeís other countries.
Italy were eventually pushed aside by the force of Spainís La Liga. As the century closed, Real Madrid were reclaiming their place as the continentís leading force. They won their first European Cup since the team of the 1950s and 1960s when they beat Juventus in the 1998 final, heralding the start of the shift. In 2000 they won again, sweeping aside the holders Manchester United before swatting away Valencia with ease in a final which showed that Spain was now the leading force. Three Spanish sides were in the last four that season, with Barcelona also there.
In 2001 Bayern Munich won the title, but like Borussia Dortmundís triumph in 1997 it was a one off and was not to herald a German takeover of European football. Instead Spain continued to dominate, Real Madrid winning the competition in 2002 again. Barcelona were not so competitive at this point, but even as English teams began to take charge of the competition, the Catalans remained on par above their competition, before moving onto a field of their own between 2008 and 2011.
Following a brief Italian resurgence with the all Italian final of AC Milan v Juventus in 2003, in 2004 Porto won the Champions League but in 2005 Liverpool took the title, and this year heralded Englandís domination of the competition. Liverpool and Chelsea met in the semi finals that year, and their clubs would continue to dominate from the last eight onwards in the years to come. In 2008 Manchester United won the title in an all English final, whilst AC Milan remained a force too, winning in 2007 after losing in that remarkable final in 2005.
From 2008, Barcelona have dominated European football seemingly alone, but last year were shockingly beaten by Chelsea and Bayern Munich lost in their second final in three years to the English side. This year, there will probably be no English teams in the last eight. There could have been no Spanish sides either, although that has been averted. Italy has AC Milan and Juventus, but are still some way from their days of dominance 20 years ago.
But then there is Germany. Borussia Dortmund won a group including Real Madrid earlier this season, whilst Bayern Munich look unbeatable at present. Schalke, struggling in the Bundesliga, look like qualifying for the last eight for the third time in four years. This seems to be heralding a German takeover of European football. It is not inconceivable, or unlikely, that Dortmund and Bayern could meet in the final if the draw is kind to them. That final between two teams from the same country seems to herald the domination of one particular country, and if it happens this year it would underline Germanyís growing status. But whether it happens or not, Germany may well be taking centre stage as the dominant power in European football once again this year.