German delight as all four teams progress in Europe
BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
Dortmund head coach Juergen Klopp, 2nd right, celebrates with Julian Schieber their victory against Olympique Marseille. AP PhotoBundesliga teams have once again kept the German flag flying in Europe with all four sides progressing to the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time.
After May’s first all-German Champions League final in Wembley, holders Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have joined Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke in the knock-out phase of this season’s competition.
“All four German clubs in the last 16, that has never happened before. Our league can celebrate a historic triumph!” wrote German daily Bild.
On three occasions three German teams, Dortmund, Schalke and Bayern, have reached the last 16 in 1997-98, 2004-05 and 2012-13, but this is the first time since the Champions League started in 1992 that four German teams have reached the knock-out phase.
The Germans have the joint biggest contingent in the knock-out stages alongside English quartet Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, while three Spanish teams, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are also through. On Dec. 11, Dortmund needed a dramatic late goal from Kevin Grosskreutz to seal a 2-1 win at Marseille to finish as winners of Group F and had been just three minutes from going out of the competition after Napoli’s 2-0 win at home to Arsenal.
Last season’s Champions League runners-up seem to flourish when under the utmost pressure in Europe with their Marseille victory further proof of their love for late drama.
For Juergen Klopp’s team, the win in France and qualification for the knockout stages was a huge morale-boosting result after a shaky start to the season.
Having dropped to third in the Bundesliga after losing to rivals Bayern Munich, talk of a first crisis for the 2011 and 2012 league champions quickly surfaced.
Pep Guardiola’s Bayern also went through as group winners, despite losing 3-2 at home to Manchester City on Dec. 10.
The titleholders said they had still accomplished their mission of finishing top of their group and avoiding the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris St Germain in the round of 16.
Schalke finished second in Group E after a 2-0 win at home to Swiss champions FC Basel, while Bayer Leverkusen were second in Group A behind Manchester United thanks to a 1-0 win away to Real Sociedad.
Schalke is hoping to replicate their European success in the Bundesliga against a lowly Freiburg on Dec. 15 to turn their season around before the winter break and keep coach Jens Keller in the job.
The draw for the last 16 of the Champions League will be held at 1100GMT in Nyon, Switzerland, on Dec. 16.
In total, the German quartet have picked up 93.55 million euros (US$129m) in prize money.
Defending champions Bayern lead the way with 28.76 million euros for appearance and prize money followed by Dortmund with 24.85m, Leverkusen on 21.43m and Schalke 18.51m.
For winning last season’s Champions League title, Bayern picked up 55.05m euros.