Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Bundesliga's False Dawn in Europe

Germany's elite Soccer division - The Bundesliga is enjoying distinguished and high profile attention currently after the historic all German UEFA Champions League Final, a couple of weeks ago. The rhapsody began after Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund scored twin semi-final victories over Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid. Many commentators have signaled it an axiom that German Clubs will rule the champions league from here on, and advocating the virtues of the Budesliga as a blue print for other clubs in Europe. It's been heralded the Bundesliga is on the rise with it's clubs producing great youth academies, debt free, operating on the maxims of self reliance, financial sustainability, and the fans being at the heart of the initiatives of the clubs. All very impressive credentials without a doubt. However, advocates are wide of the mark  transcending the argument into a wider European hegemony for German clubs; they clearly underestimate the onerous task German clubs face reproducing two semi-finalists next season, and actualizing this vaunted superiority. The presence of Bayern Munich in the last  three finals of the champions league has spiked the Bundesliga ratings upwards, but generating a faulty calculus,  because Bayern Munich is not a prototype Bundesliga club, rather you'll  need a few other clubs to perform the feats of Borusia Dortmund to showcase that  argument. But that needs to be proved in next season's champions league, once again by Dortmund, and the other German representatives - Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke. Otherwise, it's an extrapolation of ludicrous proportions. It's like saying Arsenal or Udinese would be at the next final because they are well run clubs. It's not going to happen. The Champions League is an incredibly difficult competition, and it takes a lot to win. Here's some stats to freeze that idea :

Guardiola: Bayern can grow under his tutelage, say Souness and Redknapp

* 23 years ago was the last time any team ( AC MILAN 1989/ 90 ) retained the trophy

* It's only been retained twice in the last 33 years ( Nottingham Forest 1979 / 80' )  and AC Milan ( 1989 and 1990)

* 31 years ago was the last time two different winners emerged from the same country in successive years ( Liverpool 1981 & Aston Villa 1982 )

* The best any country has produced in last for 31 years is Spanish Clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona
    winning the competition twice in three successive seasons on two separate occasions: 2000, 2002 and 2009, 2011.

Barriers are meant to be broken, that comprises a part of why sport is thrilling. Football has no scientific bases, but the evidence that German clubs are set to shift the trend and become dominant in European competitions can be scoffed at for a number of reasons :

 BAYERN MUNICH : Folks might fail to notice that Bayern Munich's financial muscle has enabled them grow at a faster pace than their other rivals Borrusia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen, and Schalke. Bayern can comfortably buy the best players of their rivals as they have done over the years, and most recently with their purchase of Mario Goetze from Borussia Dortmund. Bayern's financial dominance is an antithesis to the theory most Bundesliga Clubs are well run and financially wholesome and stable, they can all therefore compete on equal terms with Bayern, and have as much talented, and as expensive a squad as the Bavarians presently do, and achieve similar sporting successes home and abroad: powder puff..... if anything, Bayern Munich destabilizes and weakens the other clubs in the top division, cherry picking their best players, and augmenting with top talent from abroad. There is a latent disparity in the top echelon of the Budesliga, and commentators  need to wake up to this fact. The strengths of the Budesliga is subsumed under the Bayern Munich colossus, providing a distorted potential of the Bundesliga.    

Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinstiger: Bayern Munich pair had tasted the pain of defeat in the Champions League in recent years.

 ACUMEN : No doubt the geese that lay the golden eggs come in the shape of a good club structure, and the purvey of properly nurtured young players, and German clubs seem to be doing well at that, but the champions league is not a romantic competition, it's a brutal one, and competition experience is certainly a prerequisite to doing well in it. Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke do not possess the requisite amount of players with this. Borussia Dortmund are on the verge of losing a few of their best players, neither would they be the dark horses they were in last season's competition. One very reliable index of the strength of a country's league is the Europa League : If German teams had  as much as nearly clout or predominance in that competition, then the argument would be persuading, but no team from Germany has won the Europa league in 16 years since Schalke did it, that is a more poignant indication because the revamped Europa league format is modeled like the champions league. Furthermore, only two other German teams outside of Bayern Munich have won ( Hamburg and Borrusia Dortmund ) the champions league / European Cup in the last 30 years. In fact, German teams in comparison to Spanish, Italian, and English teams actually have catching up to do first before any hegemony is mentioned.

Robert Lewandowski: Likely to be working closely with Uli Hoeness

IN OPPOSITION :   The UEFA Champions League has a ruthless edge to it. The antagonists to Germany's representatives in the 2013/14 edition would be a combination aristocrats like Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Barcelona, Juventus, with their illustrious history, and tremendous potential in star players and financial resouces ; And the billionaires' clubs - Chelsea, Manchester City, PSG, and a host of clubs from Russia and Ukraine : who are aspiring to dethrone the status-quo, by purchasing some of the best players in Europe for outlandish sums. After winning domestic titles set their sights on conquering Europe's glamour competition. These two blocks of clubs will provide very severe tests to the credentials of Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Levekusen, and Schalke, no doubt well run clubs, adopting a credible creed, but the argument  they stand a chance of upstaging those two blocks of clubs is diluted when you consider they won't bring in star names, not the practice, and hav a meagre four European trophies between them. Bayer Leverkusen have never won the German Championship; and Schalke last won it in 1958, and who is to say after Dortmund's scintillating campaign in the champions league this year, will not put up a few more of their talented youngsters for sale!!! After all, that's implicit of it's self sustaining model. The draw back with this model is that the aristocratic and billionaire clubs( as mentioned above) have the cash to offer for the likes of Dortmund's best players. No matter how many good ones they produce, it would have a debilitating effect on their champions league  prospects.

Jurgen Klopp: Bortmund boss was generous in defeat about opposite number Jupp Heynkes

CLOSING BELL: The issue analysts miss out when prosecuting  the claim German Clubs have an auspicious future in the champions league is that the Bundesliga is an allegory of Bayern Munich and the rest. Bayern buy the best around the country. As long as their financial powers eclipses that of the rest by some distance, so too would their collection of domestic titles. Borussia Dortmund, Schalke, and clubs run on those lines would hardly be able to gain traction domestically and in Europe with the scenario their best players are apples in the eyes of their richer rivals across the continent, that pours cold water on the idea they are about to stage a coup
The rules that exist limiting foreign ownership of German clubs is admirable, but to the detriment of a challenge to Bayern. It's great these clubs are fan-based and pragmatic with their finances, but they  have to be able to match Bayern fire with fire to break out of the shadows, and be a force to be reckoned with rather than just the talk of potential. I am afraid they need to make an even bigger push on the domestic scene first. That's the gate way to any claim on the continent.  shifting the all powerful Bayern Munich is the crux of the matter. There is little empirical evidence of that, nor any more to suggest Bundesliga Clubs are set to rule Europe; perhaps donkeys would first have to  fly over the Alliance Arena for me to believe that.

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