Champions League semi-finals are this week, you say? Well, let’s have a look at the bill.
Tuesday. Spanish gargantics featuring a lot of short hombres including one particularly distinguishable virtuoso with the most adorable and paradoxical of double chins, versus klotzig Germans with one really, really ugly dude and a balding Dutch guy who I imagine still gives wet willies at the age of almost 30. Nah, don’t care for either of them.
Wednesday. Another Spanish monster, but one who’s locker room stores so much hair gel and spray tan that farting and lighters are both prohibited, versus, ooh, what’s this, more Germans, but a publicly traded bunch chalk full of baby-faced homegrown stars coached by a charismatic and toothy German with the middle name “Norbert”? These ones. I’ll take them.
Okay, there’s more behind our pick for Champions League glory than vain judgments. Like the Footbonaut. Did you know Borussia Dortmund players train inside a 360° interactive football cage?? Get a load of this:
This Jetson-like training robot is said to be Dortmund’s secret weapon. A robotic ball feeding machine inside a 14 sq meter cage with 64-panel targets that trains players on precision passing and decision-making. If it didn’t cost more than some transfer fees at $3 million, you’d expect more clubs and spoiled children to own one.
But there’s even more. Believe it or not, we’re a bit of a crunchy bunch here. We like our carrots, cows, and football teams grown organically. And Dortmund are certified OG.
Here’s a club that experienced a golden age in the 90′s, winning two league titles and the Champions League in 1997, then fell on hard times and heavy debt in 2003. Realizing it was near impossible to compete with the mega-spending of German rivals Bayern Munich, and the rest of Europe’s hairiest giants, they focused on youth and development. In 2010-11, a freshly post-pubescent Dortmund, under the guise of the lively Jurgen Norbert Klöpp, stormed to the Bundesliga throne, which they retained in 2011-12. Now look at ‘em, their peach fuzz turning to stubble right before our eyes on the European stage.
Combine this sustainable approach with their status as the first and only publicly traded football club on the German stock market, and you can’t help but see Dortmund as a beacon of good in an ugly football world. Not to mention, they some of the most passionate, and artistic, fans in the world. When Dortmund pulled off a miracle, albeit controversial, comeback against Qatari sheikh-backed Malaga in the quarterfinals, I thought, maybe there is a football god.
Although clubs like Barcelona and Bayern Munich run on a similar fan-owned, co-operative business model, it’s the weird kid, the underdog we all secretly pull for. And if all these words don’t get you behind Dortmund for these semi-finals, maybe this picture will.