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Is the Bundesliga the best league in the world?

28 May 2013 by

The Champions League final 2013 was Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund, the two best teams in the Bundesliga. Is this the start of a German domination of European football?

Let’s go back to the very beginning in Euro 2000. Germany went into the tournament as champions when they beat Czech Republic 2-1 at Wembley, Germany were one of the favourites to win the tournament again. At Euro 2000 in Group A were Portugal, Romania, England and Germany and the group standings were in that order.

Germany had lost all but one of their games.

Germany 1-1 Romania
England 1-0 Germany
Portugal 3-0 Germany

This was Germany’s worst performance in a major tournament for years. The German FA knew something had to be done, fast. The Euro 2000 team was an ageing side which lacked quality. The Germans knew what was wrong and knew how to put it right. The German FA had introduced better academies and decided to focus on home grown talent instead of spending big money on players from abroad.

Germany had improved vastly inside 2 years, even though they just about qualified in the play offs, because they finished second at the World Cup in 2002 after losing to Brazil in the final. The team was showing skill, class and pace instead of  pure strength. They showed that they were in it to win it. They did take a step back in Euro 2004 after failing to get out of the group.

However, that was just a blip in the German revolution because when they hosted the World Cup in 2006 they finished third. They won all their games in the group, beat Sweden, then Argentina, and lost to Italy in the semi final. However, Germany scored more goals than any other team in the tournament with 14 goals and Lukas Podolski won the best young player of the tournament award. There were lots of positives to take from the World Cup and they built on that under Joachim Low.

They continued to improve with Low as manager and finished runners up at Euro 2008 after losing 1-0 to Spain, but more positives could be taken from the tournament with Podolski, Gomez, Lahm and Schweinsteiger gaining more experience but they were still young.  In the World Cup qualifiers, Germany played an attractive, attacking style of football and qualified as group winners after eight wins and two draws which both came against Finland.

The 2010 World Cup was the start of a brand new young German team which looked unstoppable even though they lost 1-0 to Serbia in their second group match. They brought the likes of Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller who all took the tournament by storm. They easily won the group with 6 points out of a possible 9, and were going to face one of their biggest rivals in the round of 16, England.

England had just scraped through their group after beating Slovenia, which was their only win of the tournament, and Germany were the hot favourites. However, what occurred in that game was to change the look of English and German football forever. The Germans were all over England in the first half after they went 2-0 up inside 35 minutes with Klose and Podolski getting on the score sheet and it could have been 4,5 or even 6 nil.

Somehow England grabbed a goal through Matthew Upson minutes before the break to restore hope for the English dream, and what happened only seconds later changed the face of football forever. Frank Lampard scored a clear goal to surely level the scoreline, but it was not to be after the ref waved the protests away from the English players, fans and coaching staff. It was clear from the replays that the ball had clearly crossed the line by at least a yard, for the life of me I don’t know how it wasn’t given.

The Germans played on and nearly got a third on the counter to break English hearts, but it wasn’t to be just yet. In the second half, the Germans played the same way as they did in the first; only a whole lot better. Thomas Muller got a double with one coming from the counter attack from an England free kick to make the defeat a lot, lot worse.

Germany continued to improve in Euro 2012 when they won all their group games in the group of death. They beat Portugal 1-0, beat Denmark and Holland 2-1. They dominated the group and looked the team to beat heading into the knockout stages. In the quarter final, they swept past Greece 4-2 and put in another typical, dominant performance.

In the semis, they lost to Italy 2-1 because Germany couldn’t get going until stoppage time when Ozil pulled a goal back to create a tense few minutes for the Italians. Germany had a successful Euro 2012 but they had one bad game which cost them a place in the final, it just goes to show that if you don’t play at 100% for the whole tournament you have no chance of winning.

Back to the club side of German football and one club that has rose from the ashes with the new academies is Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund have produced some world class players such as Gotze and Hummels who have broke into the national team in recent seasons, and are continuing to bring in the home grown talent into their first team. This has proved to be a good strategy by Dortmund because they nearly went out of business due to having no money.

Dortmund have turned from that into German champions for the past two seasons. This season though, Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga and with Munich signing Gotze and reportedly on the verge of signing Lewandowski, I think that Dortmund has had it’s time at the top.

Munich are now the dominant force not only in Germany, but in Europe after beating Dortmund in the Champions League final at Wembley 2-1. Bayern have been in the final 3 times in the last 4 years and it proved to be third time lucky after they lost to Chelsea at the Allianz arena last year on penalties. How did a German team lose on penalties?

Bayern are buying all of the best German talent from the smaller clubs and are starting to dominate European football. Could we be witnessing with Bayern what we witnessed with Barcelona only a short while ago? I guess only time will tell.

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