Robert Lewandowski's beguiling deadliness and Marco Reus's qualities as a wonderful system-wrecker were too much for Real
There were suggestions that the stress of keeping his guilty secret about his summer defection to Bayern Munich explained Mario Götze's substandard showing against Málaga during the quarter-final. It was thus feared that the pressure triggered by Tuesday's leaking of what is dubbed "der Transfer-Hammer" might crush the 20-year-old and possibly even upset the team dynamic. But Jürgen Klopp started the attacking midfielder, clearly convinced that the home fans would not turn on the turncoat and that Götze is solid enough to deal with the extra scrutiny. The manager was quickly vindicated on both counts. Right from the start the zeal and zip of Dortmund proved their spirit was intact and Götze played his part, pressing with the same ferocious intensity as his team-mates and showing his class with a delicious cross for Robert Lewandowski to open the scoring. Clearly no one at Dortmund was dwelling on the youngster's shock move. Mind you, the issue will certainly resurface if – when – Dortmund meet Bayern in the final.
Dortmund are expected to lose their top striker this summer but at least the Pole bolstered their bargaining power with this performance. The artful touch that preceded the smart finish for his second goal was bettered by the drag-back past Pepe that gave him the space to rocket the ball into the net for his hat-trick. No wonder all the top clubs in Europe are eyeing him up.
Football is simultaneously at its most systematised and its most chaotic at the highest level. It takes a special player to spread panic among meticulously drilled opponents. Cristiano Ronaldo can do it, of course, but so can Marco Reus and he demonstrated that with style on Wednesday night. His speed and dribbling skill, allied to Dortmund's ability to get him running on to the ball in lines that would impress the All Blacks, had Real Madrid's defenders abandoning their stations and scurrying hither and thither like children who had consumed far too much fizzy pop and had no real clue how to cope. It would be rash to rule out Real scoring goals in the second leg at the Bernabéu but it is difficult to see them keeping both Reus and Lewandowski at bay. Borussia Dortmund are as good as through to the final.
There was no Götze-style palaver when Dortmund bought a young player from Bayern Munich four years ago. That is because the Bavarians were perfectly happy to let Mats Hummels go, reasoning that, although he had spent his entire youth at the club, he was not good enough to improve their senior team, for whom he played just once. That judgment has looked dodgy in recent seasons as Hummels helped Dortmund to two consecutive Bundesliga titles – but this season it is Hummels who has begun to look dodgy. He has suffered serious lapses on too many occasions, such as when he misjudged a humdrum punt upfield in the group game at Shakhtar Donestsk to gift a goal to Costa. His shoddy backpass that led to Ronaldo's equaliser heightened suspicions that he is not the man to bring new solidity to the defence of Barcelona, who are rumoured to be interested in him. Then again, one might also suggest there is no reason – other than financial, of course – for Hummels to go to Barcelona.
The argument is over. Barcelona and Real Madrid are the best non-German teams in Europe and they were comprehensively beaten this week – shown to be inferior tactically, technically and physically. While the crushing victories were impressive, the manner of them was delightful. There is an infectious joy and admirable fairness about the way Bayern and, especially, Dortmund play, making their domination somehow more thrillingly human than the tiki-taka tyrants. And it all unfolds in front of packed crowds who create atmospheres that are seldom experienced in, say, the Premier League.