The Bundesliga was formed in 1963, just over half a century ago. In its inaugural season, 1. FC Köln came away with the title, having finished top of the table with a (now) pathetic 45 points and managed to lose just twice.
Last season in the Bundesliga, 45 points got you 8th.
For five seasons, the Bundesliga was largely competitive, as no team repeated as champion and no club won it twice during that period. In the sixth Bundesliga campaign, everything changed, and for the worse.
Bayern Munich won the league in 1968-1969 by 8 points and scored 61 goals in 34 games. Officially, the Bayern Era had begun, although they didn’t defend their title the following season; in fact, Borussia Mönchengladbach took home the silverware two years in a row.
The following 3 seasons saw Bayern begin to form a stranglehold on the Bundesliga, winning each time, but the next three saw Borussia Mönchengladbach do the same.
Bayern Munich have won the Bundesliga 25 times over the last 53 years – how boring is that? Surely, Bayern’s many fans would disagree, but the Bundesliga is boring and predictable, two things that make for terrible soccer.
Since the 2000-2001 campaign, Bayern has been champion of the Bundesliga 10 times. That’s not variety, that’s like North Korea’s TV programming.
If the Bundesliga wants to be known as a competitive league like the Premiership (which really isn’t that competitive), other clubs need to be able to hold the top place in the table. Borussia Dortmund had a nice era with Jürgen Klopp, and while seeing Die Schwarzgelben win again would be nice, it wouldn’t do the league any favors. Where is FC Schalke 04 or VfL Wolfsburg, who came away with the league back in 2008/2009?
Well, Bayern is a club of a certain pedigree and can attract world class players, something that your VfB Stuttgarts and Werder Bremens aren’t able to do right now. They have one of the best goalkeepers of all time in Manuel Neuer, and their midfield is full of surnames like Robben, Costa, Ribery, Thiago, Vidal and Müller.
With Robert Lewandowski up front, along with a young Kingsley Coman on the bench, Bayern look good, and they’re great.
If FC Augsburg or Borussia Mönchengladbach were forking over £100m for Paul Pogba instead of Manchester United, the Bundesliga would be very different, and it would be better.
Bundesliga squads not named Bayern Munich aren’t going to be able to reach that level of the transfer market, and even Bayern doesn’t go that high; for the Bundesliga to become competitive, Bayern has to fail.
Newly appointed manager Carlo Ancelloti needs to fail, and the first team needs to be disrupted. It’s old, and the starting 11 is 27.2 years old on average, but a few key players are in their thirties – Robben, Ribery, Xabi Alonso, Rafinha and Philipp Lahm. Neuer is 30, but goalies can play forever, especially ones on Neuer’s level (Gigi Buffon, I’m looking at you); opposing offenses have a lot to deal with, like it or not.
Besides Lahm and Rafinha, Bayern’s defense is relatively young and very talented, but the club lacks depth up front, something that will give Ancelloti pause each transfer window until he solves that issue.
As long as Bayern Munich doesn’t continue to poach Borussia Dortmund of their stars (who re-signed Mario Götze this week) and they don’t continue to reel in the best players on the planet, the Bundesliga could become competitive. Your Schalkes and Wolfsburgs are improving, and if they continue to grow and can stack up some real big money for a noticeable transfer, maybe they can compete with Bayern instead.
If only that would actually happen.