After winning two consecutive Bundesliga in 2011 and 2012 and thrashing Bayern with 5-2 at DFB-Pokal final, very few people doubt that Dortmund is a good team. The players like Mario Gotze, Shinji Kagawa, Lukasz Piszczek, Matt Hummels and Robert Lewandowski performed superb and can be classified as rising young stars. However, as good as it is in the Bundesliga, somehow they cannot deliver the same performance in European level. In 2011-2012 season, Dortmund was not even qualified to Round-16 stages after surrendering their 2-0 lead in their own stadium to Marseilles.
Not so this time. Retaining the very same squad last season (Minus Kagawa who has been replaced by Reus), Dortmund confidently defeated Real Madrid in their own stadium 2-1. 2 weeks later Jurgen Klopp proved that that match is not fluke by holding The Special One in their own stadium with 2-2 draw. Even Madrid is trailed 2-1 until Ozil free kick equalized. By such performance, Klopp has proven himself as world-class manager and I will expect him to bring Dortmund for at least quarter final. This also will rise reputation of German football clubs.
On Group E, Barcelona received their first blow of this season by Celtic in Glasgow. The goalkeeper performance is superb, denying Messi and Alexis four times and also thanks to good luck, Barca hit woodwork twice. While I think they still perform consistently, I don’t think Barca is as strong as last season. Their defense is quite weak as they concede goals even against teams like Spartak Moscow and Deportivo. Oh, personally speaking, I will prefer Ronaldo to get Ballon d’Or over Messi. And I am not Madrid fans.
My favorite team, Bayern got easy night this round. Although I am quite disappointed with Muller performance, considering they scored 6 goals it seems no reason for complaining. Furthermore, Schweinsteiger is getting better and better, approaching his best performance since World Cup 2010. Robben delivered after long injury. Pizarro and Lahm is spectacular by hat-trick and 3 assists, respectively.
My prediction for this season, Champions League will be contest between Spanish (Barcelona and Real Madrid) and German teams (Bayern and Dortmund) only. If they are lucky during Quarter-final draw, I suspect they will be 4 teams that reach semi-final.