Spain dethrone Germany to become new kings of Europe
James Mariner is a journalist who has been boring The Independent sports desk with mindless statistics since June 2007. Helping with various, wide-ranging desk duties (I made the tea once), supervising workies and the endless researching of panels, James has an unnatural love of all things football, and in particular the Europa League, being a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. He cites Brian Sears and Ledley King among his heroes and can even find something interesting in Burnley v Hull City. On a good day.
Friday 02 May 2014
The Spanish armada is ruling the Champions League waves once again. After a brief spell of German dominance, vast fleets of Madridistas will converge on Lisbon in three weekends’ time threatening another period of Spanish rule.
After a boom over the turn of the millennium, with five Spanish sides making the final in five seasons between 1998 and 2002, La Liga struggled for success. Just three of the 22 finalists prior to this year were provided by Spain, although Barcelona won on all three occasions, beating Arsenal in 2006 and Manchester United in 2009 and 2011.
After three successive semi-final exits under Jose Mourinho, Real Madrid finally rediscovered the winning formula on the grandest stage to extend their own record to 13 final appearances and put them close to the holy grail of a 10th title 12 years after their last. Neighbours Atletico will be playing in their second, seeking to improve on their 1974 replay loss to Bayern Munich in Brussels.
Indeed, this season’s final will be the fifth time in which both sides have come from the same country – the second time from Spain. Real Madrid beat Valencia in the first such final in 2000, before Italy (2003), England (2008) and Germany (2013). The success of Spanish sides this season – and Real’s victory over Bayern – contrasts greatly with last spring, when Real and Barcelona were on the receiving end of a combined 11-3 semi-final humbling at the hands of Bayern and Borussia Dortmund.
Those results suggested a period of German dominance, the culmination of the country’s restructuring of youth development. The Bundesliga provided four finalists over the last four seasons, Bayern losing out in 2010 and 2012 before beating compatriots Borussia Dortmund at Wembley last May.
Pep Guardiola’s side ultimately became the latest holders to fail to retain their title, leaving Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan as the last team to hold on to their crown, 24 years ago, but Italian sides have long lost their dominance.
Latest in Sport
Dan Hardy column: Is the hype around UFC sensation Conor McGregor justified?
Humiliated Brazil look to continue recovery at Arsenal
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores ridiculous headed goal after blocking Moldova goalkeeper's clearance
England vs Lithuania match report: Harry Kane fires in first Three Lions goal just 78 seconds into debut to put icing on the cake
'God, she's beautiful': Embarrassment for basketball player Nigel Hayes after microphone picks up comment about female reporter
- 1 Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
Andreas Lubitz: Knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 enabled mass murder