The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

April 25, 2013

Bayern, Borussia Dortmund herald power shift

(Continued)

Real Madrid is the most successful team in European Cup history with nine titles, but hasn't reached the final since winning in 2002. Barcelona has won four, including three since 2006.

Neither made the final last year, with Barcelona losing to Chelsea in the semifinals and Madrid falling to Bayern. Chelsea then beat Bayern in the final.

If there is a first all-German final this year, it would be further proof that the Bundesliga might be the healthiest league in Europe.

Bayern has been peaking the past few seasons and would be in its third final in four seasons, the last being that painful loss to Chelsea on penalty kicks while playing at home. The Munich club has invested smartly since, adding size and muscle in signing defender Dante and midfielder Javi Martinez as well as striker Mario Mandzukic.

Dortmund is more of a surprise. The club won the Champions League in 1997, barely escaped bankruptcy in 2005 and could not pass the group stage last time.

This season, it is the only undefeated team in the Champions League. It beat another Spanish club, Malaga, in the quarterfinals although the winning goal came from an offside position.

So with German clubs on the rise and Spanish clubs appearing to stagnate, there is much talk about a shift in power.

"This is not the end of an era," Barcelona Vice President Josep Bartomeu told Catalunya Radio on Thursday. "There is a structure to the club and it will continue. We will go forward with the same base that we have now. New players will arrive. There are certain positions that we need to reinforce. That is the way of things."

But age could be only one factor in the perceived change. The Bundesliga has 18 clubs, two fewer than other top leagues, which means fewer games. And unlike most others, it takes a long winter break, giving players a chance to recover. Also, German Cup matches are one-leg affairs, also meaning fewer games.

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