Sunday, April 28, 2013

Klopp, Dortmund and Inspiration

Life Office has been really hectic of late, and despite my best intentions, I was unable to stay awake late and watch the two Champions League semi-finals. My surprise on getting up and checking the score of the Bayern-Barca match was almost surpassed the next morning as I could scarcely believe Dortmund trumping - Real Madrid, no wait - Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid 4-1.
And so, with me having little time to watch live sports on TV, I am reduced to reading (and listening) what I can about it. Germany 8 - Spain 1 - the collective score of the two semi-finals are being looked as as an end of an era and a beginning of a new one. We have to wait and see, but the eye-catching story out of all this has been that of Jurgen Klopp and Borussia Dortmund.
Back in the 90s - I remember watching them win the Champions League led by that striker with that amazing name - Karl Heinz Reidle. After that, they sort of fell off the radar for me - I only recall Arsenal buying a couple of their fine players - Jens Lehmann and Tomas Rosicky.
Dortmund of course came back into prominence a couple of years back winning the league and then defending it. While I have watched them on a very limited basis, but have always been amazed by their football - their matches against Arsenal last season in the group phase of the Champions League - provided me a bit more than a glimpse of what is going on there. A bunch of young, exciting, gifted youngsters playing together at an awe-inspiring stadium with absolutely brilliant fans. (One or two of them have a cheeky side - which makes them even cooler). But perhaps as you already know, what keeps them together at the moment is their manager - Jurgen Klopp - a man as the linked post suggests - works with a personal touch (of genius). And you know he is a fun man, when he gives references like this.
But Borussia Dortmund are not the only thing that is "happening" in German soccer at the moment - Bayern Munich - the uber, mega, superstar filled powerhouse of an European club are going strength to strength this season. They have regained the Bundesliga from Dortmund and quite easily at that. They have just thrashed Barcelona 4-0 in the CL 1st leg, they have appointed Pep Guardiola as coach for next season already, they have a team filled with some of the most exciting players in Europe and just before the semi-finals - publicly announced the capture of Dortmund's most prized player - Mario Goetze. Dortmund have by now of course got used to losing their best players - Sahin to Real, Kagawa to Man Utd, now Gotze to Bayern and possibly their 4 goal hero Lewandowski to Bayern or perhaps even Man United in the summer. There is a possibility that with Pep coming in and the vast difference in the financial wealth of the two teams - Bayern would once again become an unstoppable force, but before that is settled, I would like to believe that Klopp would have a say in it too. As Rafael Honigstein says in this piece, Klopp's inspirational management is reminiscent of a younger Jose Mourinho. He has a massive challenge on his hand - but before next season - there is a job to be completed at Madrid and then possibly at Wembley. I for one am hoping that he and Dortmund experience the glory.
Smashing Good. Pic: Courtesy: Scissors Kick

The club football landscape is now filled up with these incredibly rich clubs - whether self-financed or oil money fueled. And this money is not likely to go away any time soon. The success of a relatively smaller (less wealthy) club like Dortmund - is the type of thing that would give inspiration to smaller clubs and hope to their fans and is worth applauding as a neutral.
PS: Bonus read  - A wonderful post about the last 2+ years of Dortmund by Pakistani writer Hassan Cheema.
PS2: Brilliant interview in the Guardian here

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