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Guillem Balague on the rise of the German clubs in Europe

Features - Guillem Balague Posted 29th April 2013 view comments

Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund put four goals past Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively in the semi-final first legs - but how has this sudden shift happened?

Generally, the improvement of the German league has to do with the fact that the Bundesliga is more competitive right the way through. Not so much at the top - it tends to be the same at the top.

Arjen Robben netted as Bayern routed Barcelona

Arjen Robben netted as Bayern routed Barcelona

Throughout the rest of the league, money is distributed more evenly and therefore there is less disparity between the budgets of the teams. That shows at the end, that competitiveness.

There is another way of explaining it, which is team by team. Bayern Munich have been trying for years not only to get to the final of the Champions League but to actually win it.

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They've been to the final twice in the last three years but haven't won it. They have been increasing the level of the side every year and now their chance is here.

On the other hand, Barcelona will be talking about how they've not looked after the details.

They've rested too much on what Lionel Messi does, they don't press high, the full-backs go forward and leave gaps and they're not defending well up the pitch so they're forced to do so in their box. You pay a price at the top.

Pace

Borussia Dortmund have a lot of pace and attack and defend as a unit. That pace is what makes the difference when it's done accurately. It's great to watch.

If you look at Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid, meanwhile, they have played five semi-finals and the overall scores are five for Madrid and 10 for their rivals.

The feeling is that Mourinho is too conservative at this stage of the season and then tries to go for it in the second leg. It didn't work in Dortmund.

Mourinho wanted the team to drop deep and counter-attack, but the players feel they should go forward and try and keep the ball more.

If you believe German magazine Bild, Mourinho will go back to England having won just one league and one Cup during his time in Madrid.

Guillem answers your questions...

Got a question for Guillem? Then send it toskysportsclub@bskyb.com or use the feedback form below, and then look out for his answer next week.

ZAB-ULOUS!
Hi Guillem, Pablo Zabaleta has had a fantastic season with Manchester City and probably proven himself to be the best right-back in the Premier League. What is the perception of him in Spain, and is he on Real Madrid and/or Barcelona's shopping list? Thanks, Jonny Mathews (Cardiff fan)

GUILLEM SAYS: I spoke to him as I'm preparing the book about Messi. It reminded me that Zabaleta was already a leader as a kid - the captain of the U20 World Cup winning Argentina team. He had to look after Messi, who was just starting. He showed the same at Espanyol and deserves to be in the Team of the Season.

UP FOR THE FIGHT
Have you been surprised at Deportivo's recent good run and who/what has been the catalyst for it? Also, what financial state is the club in at the moment? Thanks, Scott Grantham (Man United fan)

GUILLEM SAYS: I think the reason behind the form of Deportivo is Fernando Vazquez, mainly. He was a coach who was really well considered and was always considered an intelligent, tactical manager. Juan Carlos Valeron is playing in a position where he can keep his energy better. They've also got a lot of pace with Bruno and Pizzi going forward.

As for the financial state of the club, it is bad. It's in the hands of administrators and they have to clarify exactly what the debts are because the debts revealed by the club aren't matching up with what's being discovered. Going down would be a disaster.

MIDFIELD MATTERS
Hola Guillem, On Revista it has been mentioned that Real Madrid are looking for a long-term replacement for Xabi Alonso. If that man is not Casemiro, then who is it?Thanks, Steve Wilson (Chelsea fan)

GUILLEM SAYS: Casemiro would be a good addition to the side as a squad member. They will buy him for £5.8m but they are looking at Ilkay Gundogan of Borussia Dortmund or Marco Verratti of PSG, who could arrive with Carlo Ancelotti.

STEPPING UP
Hi Guillem, Any idea on who the next Athletic Bilbao manager will be if/when Marcelo Bielsa leaves? Thanks, Andy Gardner (Man City fan)

GUILLEM SAYS: Athletic Bilbao will appoint Cuco Ziganda, who was the manager for Osasuna when he first started and has now impressed as Athletic Bilbao 'B' manager.

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