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Book Review: The Bundesliga Blueprint: How Germany became the home of Football

Sunday 28th August 2016
Germany have just won the 2014 World Cup and the nation celebrates. With players like Mario Götze having their best years in front of them it seems likely that Germany will be entering a period of dominance like Spain before them. Yet, fourteen years previously – at Euro 2000 – it was all so different. Germany crashed out of the group stages, even suffering a humiliating defeat to a poor England side.

Change was required and fast, the German FA set about fixing things. Changes were made, blueprints were founded and more importantly no halfhearted "initiatives" were started. German football now sits atop the pile, the envy of countries across the world.

Title:  The Bundesliga Blueprint: How Germany became the home of Football

Author : Lee Price – @Lee_Price

Publisher : Bennion Kenny

Publication year : 2015

Price : £9.99 (Amazon Paperback)

This book is a fascinating read, but not an easy one! The level of research that has gone into it is astonishing, statistics around finances, attendances and ticket prices were all covered in great detail. The quotes, particularly from Michael Ballack early in the book when he talks about the failure at Euro 2000, were extremely enlightening and added a gravitas to the subject matter that is lacking in similar tomes.
The Bundesliga Blueprint sets the scene by describing Mario Götze's winner in the world cup final, a rare passage of descriptive narrative amongst the facts and figures, and goes on to tell the story of the disastrous Euro 2000 tournament that would become the catalyst for the 10 year plan. It is here that the quotes from Michael Ballack appear, including this quite eye opening one:

"The pre-tournament preparation in Mallorca was bad. We broke up some training sessions because of disagreements in terms of tactics, how we played, the intensity of the training.." (Chapter 1, page 7)

From here the author moves on to describing the 10 year plan, the key point being the requirement for all Bundesliga, and later 2. Bundesliga clubs to have an academy reaching certain standards. The decision to implement this structure was taken after review of other successful countries, notably the French centre of excellence at Clairefontaine. After initial resistance the clubs bought into the ideas of the academies and this was a point revisited many times over in the book with specific focus on Leverkusen.

From here the timeline becomes somewhat disjointed which is why I commented that it is not an easy read. The effect of the 2006 World Cup on the 10 year plan is documented, before drifting back to cover the 2004 European Championships, and then back again to the appointment of Rudi Völler as national team coach and the relatively successful 2002 World Cup Campaign in Japan and Korea.

From there it is into Chapter 3 and 4 and things become somewhat clearer again, a superb section on the appointment of Jürgen Klinsmann and Jogi Löw and the galvanizing effect the two had on the German National team, including a run through the build up to the 2006 "home" World Cup. Most of the quotes are older, including offerings from interviews and articles given to the BBC, but I had never read or heard them before which was pleasantly surprising!

The bulk of the book then focuses on the Bundesliga, including Debt Prevention and the famous 50+1 rule, the remarkable Fan Engagement that German clubs follow and in depth case studies of both Borrussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, with smaller features on Schalke, Freiburg, Augsburg, Paderborn and FC Union Berlin.

To cap off the read the story of the 2014 World Cup is then told, with generous match recaps of the sensational semi final win over Brazil and the final itself. The final few chapters remark on what the Author believes the Premier League could learn from the Bundesliga which I largely agree with. Great focus is laid on the academies once again here and indeed some clubs have great academies in the Premier League, notably Spurs and Manchester City have invested greatly in this area with Spurs starting to reap the benefits in Harry Kane among others.

It is not all wonderful in Germany, there are some downsides which will need to be addressed. The dominance of Bayern, both financially and on the field (which are of course linked) could lead to everyone else fighting for 2nd, while after a golden spell the U21 and U19 teams are going through a more barren patch, with the U21's being taken apart in the semi finals of the most recent European Championship by Portugal. I won't spoil the conclusions Lee Price reaches for you, and indeed, you may reach your own different conclusions.

Who should read this book? Well anyone with a passing interest in German Football would go away a much wiser person having read it. The volume of statistics, facts and just interesting tidbits is mind blowing and speaks of a writer with a genuine passion for German Football.

As I mentioned previously it suffered slightly from jumping backwards and forwards in the timeline early on but as that is my only real minus point I would highly recommend adding this to your reading list for all things Bundesliga related.

Mark Dannell
Fan of most sports first and foremost, Tottenham fan born and raised. Currently living in Germany and married, avid follower of the Bundesliga and closet Dortmund fan since 1997 thanks to a very enthusiastic high school German teacher! Covering the Bundesliga in detail for itsroundanditswhite.co.uk, any questions, requests for features or general information required all welcome, either by mail or Twitter (@mdannell) preferable.

Total articles: 86

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