Germany and Spain battle for European dominance
Germans and Spanish battle for Euro crown
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It is somewhat appropriate the four Champions League semi-finalists should come from Spain and Germany.
For on a national level they have been the two most eye-catching of the European countries in the past five years.
Spain have bested them twice by the narrowest of margins -- 1-0 in the Euro 2008 final and then the 2010 World Cup semi-final.
The Germans were favoured to meet the Spanish again in last year's Euro final but two moments of magic from unpredictable Italian striker Mario Balotelli in the semi-finals denied them the chance.
Admittedly at club level there is a diluted country v country sense with all four clubs peppered with foreign-born stars, but the quartet's presence in the last four highlights the standards in their respective leagues.
Defending Spanish champions Real Madrid, champions elect and bitter rivals Barcelona, last season's German champions Borussia Dortmund and their successors Bayern Munich have made nonsense of the hype that the English Premier League is the strongest on the continent.
Whilst Chelsea were the defending champions, many considered their penalty shootout win over Bayern to be a case of resilience winning over the stronger side and so it has proved this term.
Chelsea bowed out in the group stage -- the first time the defending champions have exited at the first hurdle -- whilst Bayern have gone from strength to strength.
Now they face the daunting task of taking on Barcelona, but given the Spanish side labouring to a narrow win over Paris Saint Germain in the quarter-finals they can have good cause for optimism.
Borussia Dortmund have reserved their best performances for the Champions League this season and even in the group stage were being touted by managerial greats such as Manchester United's Alex Ferguson and Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho as potential winners of the trophy.
Dortmund have yet to be beaten by semi-final opponents Real Madrid this season having drawn in Madrid and then beaten them in Germany in the group phase.
Dortmund's Turkish international midfielder Nuri Sahin certainly knows his opponents intimately having joined them from Dortmund before being sent on loan first to Liverpool and now back with Dortmund.
While he acknowledges that Spain holds the upper hand for the moment he believes that it won't be England who topple them from the top of the national and club perch but Germany.
"It's undisputed that the Spanish are the absolute number one in the world," said the 24-year-old.
"But if one nation and one league can adopt their supremacy, then it is the Bundesliga and the national German team."
Barcelona are probably more representative than Real of Spanish football at a national level with their 'tiki-taka' passing game and 33-year-old midfield general Xavi Hernandez highlighted his side's attitude to the game.
"Football is played to win, but our satisfaction has to be double," Xavi has said.
"Other teams win and are happy, but it's not the same. The identity is lacking. In football the result is an impostor. You can do things really, really well but not win. There's something greater than the result, more lasting -- a legacy."
Barcelona team-mate Sergi Busquets believes that it has been the addition of a Spanish element -- Javi Martinez -- to Bayern's line-up that has turned them into an even more formidable unit.
"Javi Martinez has spectacular physical power," he told Barcelona's website.
"He is all over the pitch, he covers a lot of ground and recovers a lot of balls. He is Bayern's lungs. As many of his teammates and manager have said, he is the piece that the team needed."
Whatever the reasons for their respective teams being in the last four, the stage is set for what could be the fourth Champions League final between teams from the same league with Real and Barcelona bidding to make it a second all-Spanish one after Real played Valencia in the 2000 final.
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