The State of German Club Football
May 21, 2019
Most Championships: Bayern Munich, 28
Last 5 Winners: Bayern Munich (18/19, 17/18, 16/17, 15/16, 14/15)
UEFA Ranking: 4th
Highest Ranked Club: Bayern Munich, 3rd
What do the fans in Germany currently think of the state of the Bundesliga in comparison to the likes of La Liga, the Premier League and Ligue 1?
The enthusiasm that was witnessed five years ago is gone for good.
Bayern and Dortmund have regressed internationally while clubs such as Leipzig have failed to impress on either the Champions League or Europa League stage. Add to that the low level of quality within the league (particularly obvious to the average eye now that Bayern are just as inconsistent as the rest) and Bundesliga fans aren’t impressed.
La Liga and the Premier League are far gone, while Ligue 1 is probably (wrongfully) seen as PSG + 19. The German fan’s natural rival league would surely be Serie A – which I’d say is ahead as well.
Have the last few years been seen as a disappointing time for German football in Europe? No German side has made a European final since 2013.
Pretty much. There have been some close calls (Bayern until recently, Dortmund or now Frankfurt in the EL) but all in all the Bundesliga presented itself as an also-ran.
How seriously is the EL taken by the German clubs that enter the competition? And why do you think no German side has made the final since the Europa League was rebranded?
That greatly varies from team to team, probably even from year to year. While German clubs wouldn’t throw away the EL by deploying a youth squad, they also wouldn’t sacrifice their league campaign for it.
The EL is a nice add on. Sometimes it turns into a big story, often it turns into embarrassing moments against smaller clubs.
What reaction has there been in Germany to EL 2 and the new proposed changes to the CL?
I’ve barely noticed any reactions to EL2. Most Germans seem to be against elite leagues or bigger competitions, though I think that most of such opinions are mainly fueled by traditionalist thinking.
Do most of the country get behind the German sides playing in Europe or is there still a lot of tribalism apparent?
There’s rarely a strong bond. The country can get invested in a feel-good story such as Frankfurt’s now but the EL group stages are an apathetic affair and nobody roots for Bayern or Leipzig just because they are on an international stage. The Bundesliga is established enough for fans to not see it as a collective group to be cheered for in any event.
What would you like to see UEFA do to level the playing field more for the smaller European sides?
There isn’t too much they can do without violating EU laws (for example by restricting foreign player counts).
They could randomize results even further – no group stages, single-leg knockout. They could allocate more money to participants and less to winners, although that would increase national inequality more than it reduced international inequality. Reduce spots per league? Might work, would definitely upset lots of clubs.
Aside from stuff like subsidies (of crazier ideas such as suspending FFP for small newcomers), I don’t know what UEFA could do.
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Author: Tom Mortimer
Tom is the editor at Betting Circle and has been creating online content for over 10 years. Tom mainly writes about sport and gambling, but every now and then also delves into fleshier subjects like politics and psychology. When he was 18 he created HungarianFootball.com and over the last few years he's written on a freelance basis for ESPN, WorldSoccer, Goal.com, among many others.