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The true evil in German football

Wednesday 25th May 2016
There's a lot of heat surrounding RB Leipzig at the moment. The club was founded in 2009 by the Red Bull company as their first venture into German football. They've caused quite the stir; as the world of football watches a heavily corporate-backed team with limited history enter a top European league for the first time. There is, however, a much bigger monster at work, masquerading behind this whole ordeal. The beast that eliminates all competition in German football, I speak about Bayern Munich.

On the face of it; you see a glorious football team which plays fantastic football. Whilst the previous is correct it's coming at a price. German football has never been less competitive. Bayern Munich have won the last four consecutive Bundesliga titles and three of the four DFB-Pokal cups. The Bavarians are forever consuming championship after championship, dwarfing every other team in the league. At the start of this season, there were two teams which the pundits initially believed could challenge Bayern. Wolfsburg and Dortmund; neither of which managed to beat Bayern - oh and they both lost 5-1 at the Allianz, some challenge. Bayern has not only won the last four league titles, they've done it with domination. The last two seasons they were ahead of their nearest opposition by ten points, the year before they won the league by nineteen points. Hold your breath for this next one, in the 2012/13 season, Die Roten won the league with a twenty-four point advantage.
In their last four seasons, Bayern played one-hundred and thirty-six league matches. Out of those games they've only lost ten. Let's put that into context, Manchester City lost ten games this season over thirty-eight games. Bayern Munich has had to play further ninety-eight games before they accumulated the same amount of defeats. An incredible feat but at the detriment to the league. It's fair to say with those statistics they currently have a stranglehold on German football.

Munich's supremacy of the top tier goes further back than the last four years, though. Take all of the league standings from post-1999; out of the sixteen seasons, Bayern has gone on to win eleven of them. Whilst there's no malice in them being a good football team and playing well, it's just not that good for everyone else when they are consistently this good.

What if though, it wasn't just the on-field actions that were bolstering Bayern Munich above everyone else? Anyone who shines for a Bundesliga team of exceptional quality, Bayern will want them and inevitably the players end up signing for Bayern, one way or another. There are too many examples to list exhaustively but Dante, Mandžukić, and Götze are notable previous transfers. The aforementioned players shined for Borussia Mönchengladbach, VFL Wolfsburg, and Borussia Dortmund respectively but ultimately their stints at those clubs became shop-window exercises for Bayern to scope them out before they decided to buy them. In addition to those players Mats Hummels transfer from Dortmund to Bayern was confirmed before the end of the season. Altogether making the Bundesliga even harder for non-Bayern teams, you can't beat the beast and your best players leave to join the beast. (I've consciously omitted Lewandowski from this stanza as he officially joined Bayern when his Dortmund contract expired).
Borussia Dortmund could be considered the biggest losers from Bayern's autocracy, they've been second to Bayern for three of the last four seasons. They are still a world-class outfit but see no fruits of their labour. This season alone they've failed to beat their rivals and see another of their stars join the beast of German football. They and the rest of the league would enjoy much more success and variety should Bayern Munich not play in the same league.

What can actually be done about Bayern Munich and the state they leave German football in? After all, they just want to win too, and it seems unfair to discriminate them directly just because they are successful. The DFB could reasonably imply transfer restrictions between the top teams in the Bundesliga. In theory, the governing body could stop allowing direct transfers between the top five placed in the league for the next season. This would at least give other title challengers the time to build a team with stability. Whilst the next suggestion is rather unrealistic if executed, it could refresh German football completely. Should Bayern Munich not play in the Bundesliga for the next three seasons, but play in La Liga, Serie A, and the Premier League as an additional team for one season each, it would open up the German top tier. The league would be a more of a competition without Bayern (making the league more enjoyable for spectators) and Munich would have the opportunity to win three different league titles, furthering their already impressive trophy collection.  Surely a win-win, in a fantasy world, yes, but logistically it just wouldn't work for a whole myriad of reasons (including European qualification complications, impact on the fans and whether Bayern would have to relocate).

Whilst RB Leipzig isn't the purest being of German football; they don't cripple the league and prevent the rest of the league from success. Sad to think, but corporate backing might be the only way to defeat Bayern and their tyranny over the league. It will take a lot of money to bring any of the non-Bayern teams up to a competitive level (slightly less for Dortmund/Wolfsburg). Depending on their ambition, Red Bull might be able to provide that money and defeat the true evil of German football.
Warren Smith

Yokohama F•Marinos supporter. Seen it all in the J.League relegation fights and being crowned champions. Play five-a-side, pretty good too. Once scored an overhead kick.

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