Posts Tagged ‘Manchester United’

An old, infamous rivalry is set to be renewed when Bayern Munich face Real Madrid in the Champions League semi final.

It is a clash of kings: both the richest and most successful club in their respective country, both have conquered Europe, yet neither have reigned supreme in a decade.

It is a longstanding, fierce battle, one of history, and honour, or perhaps lack thereof.

Their first meeting was also in a Champions League (then the European Cup) semi final, back in 1976 – and it was right from these early beginnings the lines were drawn.

Corey Fiske, of Real Madrid Football Blog, said: “The first meeting back in 1976 was certainly the beginning, but they may have been early overtones given the way both clubs viewed themselves in Europe and how their club presidents went about acting during the early stages of European competition. I personally think that because Real Madrid employed a few German players like Stieleke, Schuster, Netzer and Breitner during the 70s and 80s, the rivalry got amplified that much more”

This was a ‘golden age’ for Bayern, the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Uli Hoeness, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Gerd Muller among their ranks. They had already won two consecutive European Cups, and with victory over Madrid, they went on to make it a historic third.

Madrid, meanwhile, were hit with a five-year ban from the competition (later reduced to three games played away), after a fan – El loco del Bernabéu – ran onto the pitch and attacked a linesman.

In both 1980 and 1981 the two sides met in ‘friendly’ matches, though it would not be accurate to call them as such. The first, Bayern walked away with a staggering 9-1 win. The second, Bayern’s Klaus Augenthaler made offensive gestures towards the Real fans. He was sent-off, his teammates walked-off, the match was abandoned.

Another European Cup semi final arrived in 1987, and this one came with all the animosity of the first, plus that which had been built over a decade.  Again, it was The Bavarians who were the victors; although they did not go on to lift the trophy that year. And, again, it was not the football people were left talking about.

After a penalty was awarded to Bayern, Madrid striker Juanito – whose past included assaulting a linesman and spitting at an opponent – lost his head, and stamped on that of Lothar Mattaus. He received a five-year ban, and unlike Madrid’s 11 years previously, this was not reduced.

According to Edson Karimi, of Bayern blog Red Robbery, this is when it became a true rivalry. He said: “The real ‘hate’ began in 1987 with Juanito’s momentary lapse of sanity and the following war-like battles in ’87 and ’88. Elbow checks, kicks both below and above the belt, these meetings had everything that makes football ugly. It might sound simple but I do think that things would’ve looked a lot different without that challenge by Juanito against Lothar Matthäus.”

A year later, in the same competition, albeit at the quarter final stage, Madrid finally made it past Bayern, although they did not manage to go all the way.

Another eleven years passed, before a run of games between 1999 and 2004, a time when it seems both sides were at a peak. In fact, every champions League final between 1998 and 2002 featured either Bayern or Madrid, but never both.

In that 1999-2000 campaign they met four times, twice in the group stage and then yet another semi final meeting. Remarkably, Bayern beat Los Meringues three times out of four, but it was still Madrid who went on to the final and lifting the trophy.

The following season and, for the third time it was Die Roten who came through the semi final encounter with Los Blancos as the winners, and for the second time it resulted in them going on to win the whole thing. It was a fourth Champions League title for the German outfit, and one that took them to exactly half of Madrid’s tally.

The pair had to settle for a quarter final meeting in 2001-02, and although Bayern won the first leg, it was Madrid who progressed. Just like they had two years earlier, they made it count by going on to win the trophy, beating another German side – Bayer Leverkusen – in the final, with Zinedine Zidane scoring ‘that’ goal.

Madrid made it to the semi finals again in 2003, but this time they did not find the Bavarians awaiting them. Instead, their reward for making it through their epic clash with Manchester United – which finished 6-5 on aggregate – was an Old Lady. The Old Lady. Juventus. And it was the Italians who won, before going on to lose to Milan in the final. Bayern, meanwhile, had not even made it past the first stage – coming bottom of a group including Lyon, Deportivo and i Rossoneri.

The olds foes were reunited in 2004, on the slightly less grand stage of the first knockout round. It was Madrid who progressed, the last time – until the arrival of Jose Mourinho – that they made it as far as the quarter finals.

2007 saw the two meet once more in the first knockout round, and this time it was Bayern who were making it through to the quarter finals, with help from Roy Makaay, who scored the fastest ever Champions League goal.

That was to be the last time the sides would end up drawn together in this tournament. Five years since they last played, ten since one of them won the competition, and now the two lock horns again in a bid to regain their crown.

For Bayern, it is a chance to play in the final at their own stadia, the Allianz Arena. For Madrid, as in the league, it is a chance to reclaim that which they have not held in far too long. Awaiting them in the final, if – as predicted – they get past Chelsea, will be Barcelona, who have occupied the throne in the absence of these two giants. Only one will be able to fight for the right to get it back.

You can read a preview of the semi final, first leg between the two sides here.

In the last ten seasons, three different clubs have won the Premier League; five have won the Bundesliga.

Eight teams have finished inside the top four in the Premier League; ten in the Bundesliga.

It may not seem like much, but it does perhaps make all the difference. While the Premier League is not as much of a two-horse race as La Liga or the SPL, it isn’t exactly wide open either.

The Manchester United/Arsenal rivalry became Man Utd/Chelsea, and now it’s Man Utd/Man City. Tottenham have briefly challenged but fallen away. The challenges from Spurs and Man City represent a shift in power, but also highlight the decline of sides like Liverpool and Arsenal.

One of the reasons the Bundesliga is a more open competition is that clubs are made it live within their means. It receives far less in both matchday and TV revenue, with a licencing agreement meaning all clubs are on more of a level playing field. The Bundesliga receives just under €600m in television income; the Premier League: almost €2bn.

Around 50% of Bundesliga clubs’ revenue is spent on players wages, amongst the lowest in Europe (certainly the lowest of the big five leagues) and well below the 70% outlined by Uefa’s Financial Fair Play.

Raphael Honigstein, German football correspondent for The Guardian, said: “The licensing system levels the playing field somewhat as it forces clubs to live within their means. This does not make everyone the same but increases the chances of bigger teams slipping up as they can’t simply throw money at it in January, for example.”

The counter argument, of course, is that the Bundesliga has less quality. Bayern Munich were the last German side to win the Champions League, and that was back in 2001. Manchester United and Liverpool have both won the competition since then, while Manchester United have reached the final a further two times, Liverpool made another appearance in the final, and Arsenal reached it in 2006.

Clark Whitney, goal.com’s German football editor, expanded on this, saying: “As much as I hate to admit it, quality does play a role. The Bundesliga was relatively poor in the mid-2000s, which made for a more unpredictable league, but one in which there just wasn’t a team with the class to contend. Bayern didn’t have hopes of winning the Champions League, and did just enough in the transfer market to succeed. Of course, they have repeatedly failed to defend their title, primarily due to their refusal to bring in adequate squad depth to take some weight off the stars’ shoulders after a big tournament like Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

“Things are changing now, of course, as teams like Dortmund are able to produce top class line-ups for pennies, thanks to good scouts and the quality of youth being produced all over Germany.

“There are some other differences, however: culturally, clubs see a match against Bayern as an opportunity, not a death sentence. They give an extra 10% in such games – you won’t see opponents fielding reserves in Germany when they face a top side, unlike what we’ve seen at times in England and Spain.”