When two German teams reached the Champions League Final, and not one English club made the quarterfinals, the reaction was inevitable. “We should be more like them”. “The German model is perfect”. “We are so far behind them”. Actually that’s all rubbish. It’s an over exaggeration and overlooks the strengths of the Premier League and the weaknesses of the Bundesliga.
There has been an English team in the final in seven of the last eight Champions Leagues. England has produced three winners of the competition in that time, while Bayerns triumph this year is the first time a German club has won a major European trophy since 2001. So let’s not get carried away with how successful and brilliant the Germans are.
These things go in cycles. For the last few years we’ve been told that everybody should be like the Spanish. In 2008, when Manchester United and Chelsea met in the Champions League final, the Premier League was said to be the perfect model for football. The truth is that every league has its merits and which country is successful in the competition varies year on year. It’s a cup tournament. The best teams don’t always win. Look at Chelsea last year. They were far from the best team in the tournament, but because they won it, does that mean that every other nation should be more like the English? No of course not and so to say we should be more like the Germans now is ridiculous.
In fact, the Bundesliga and German football in general has numerous problems. Perhaps the biggest is the Champions League winners Bayern Munich. They are the biggest and most powerful team in Germany by a distance. Borussia Dortmund, the runners up this year have won the Bundesliga for the last two seasons. Yet they now have sold their top young star, Mario Gotze to Bayern and are about to sell their star striker Robert Lewandowski to them as well. How is that healthy for a league. There is no way that Manchester United would sell to Manchester City or vice versa. It just wouldn’t happen. The fact that it is happening in Germany is a serious problem as it will only see Bayern pull further away from the competition. They already won this year with ten games to spare. The Bundesliga has serious issues there.
Similarly, the competitiveness of German football is a major weakness. Bayern winning by such a margin shows their strength but also the lack of competition down the league. Manuel Neuer has not had more than five shots to save in a single game this season. Would that happen in the Premier League? Absolutely not.
Next season the Premier League winners will come from one of maybe as many a five teams. It is very difficult to predict who will win the league in England next year. In Germany it is a sure bet. Bayern will walk it, perhaps more easily than this year, with their new signings and under new manager Pep Guardiola. In turn that will weaken them in Europe due to consistent lack of competition. A league which is so predictable is ultimately boring and lifeless. Much like Formula One in the Schumacher era. It’s just not fun to watch.
So yes, the Germans have got a lot right in their football. The number of young German players that they play regularly is superb, their stadia and supporters are excellent and their financial infrastructure should be applauded. But should our league be more like theirs? I don’t think so. I think we want a league where Norwich can humble runaway champions Manchester United, where woeful QPR can hold Manchester City and where Liverpool can knock six past Newcastle at St. James Park. That is unpredictable and that’s what makes it great to watch. There are many things we can learn from the Germans, but our league should not end up like the Bundesliga. I quite like it the way it is thanks.