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Germany: invincible Bayern, or the ice age of the Bundesliga

In the past ten seasons, Bayern Munich have won the Bundesliga ten times, and Dortmund have been their runners-up six times. This glaciation of German football is beginning to worry its leaders.

The new boss of the League, Donata Hopfen, had thrown a stone into the pond a few days after his election at the start of the year, by evoking the possibility of organizing play-offs after the regular season to designate the champion.

“I have no taboos. If play-offs can help us, well let’s talk about play-offs”, she said, aware of the need to strengthen the interest of her championship to better sell it to broadcasters , especially abroad.

Strangely, the only support it received then came from… Bayern, the club that would have the most to lose in a change of formula. “A format with semi-finals and final would mean more suspense for the fans, so it’s an interesting idea to explore,” replied the boss of the “Rekordmeister” Oliver Kahn.

But in a world of German football very attached to its traditions, the suggestion had not found other supporters.

– “Ten Gnabry” –

The supporters of the “Unsere Kurve” (“Our Virage”) association took the opportunity to recall their conception of football, inherited from another era: better financial regulation and a fairer distribution of television revenues would make the competition much more fair, they say.

Because it is money that makes the difference on the pitch. Bayern Munich, remarkably managed for decades – and enriched by its legendary manager and president Uli Hoeness, now in withdrawal -, mechanically increases its fortune each season thanks to the receipts of the Champions League.

The other clubs cannot follow. According to Deloitte’s annual ranking, the Bavarian giant posted a turnover of 611 million euros in 2021, against 337 million for Dortmund. All the others are very far below the 200 million mark.

“This difference means that, in terms of salaries, Bayern can afford about ten Gnabrys more than us,” noted Borussia sporting director Michael Zorc at the end of April, in an allusion to international Serge Gnabry, the one of Munich’s stars. The Bundesliga, he lamented, “is an unequal race”.

Bayern also regularly loot their rivals, attracting their best players. Last summer, Leipzig saw Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer leave for Bavaria (in addition to coach Julian Nagelsmann). In the early 2010s, Dortmund sold to Bayern Mario Götze, Robert Lewandowski and Mats Hummels.

– Eternity –

As for the Munich bench, it is a page of the elite of the best coaches in Europe: Jupp Heynckes, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti, Niko Kovac, Hansi Flick and Nagelsmann have taken turns to win the last ten titles.

Result: in its ten victorious seasons, Bayern finished with an average of almost 14 points ahead of its dolphins. Dortmund only managed to keep the suspense going until the final day, losing by two points in 2018-19.

These ten consecutive victories constitute a record in the major championships: even Juventus in Italy stopped at nine.

The last manager to have won the Bundesliga with another club is Jürgen Klopp, the current Liverpool manager, winner in 2012 with Dortmund.

Because Munich, always led by its former players, does not only have financial talent. Recruitment is also thought out over the long term. The leaders have notably succeeded in the transition between the Schweinsteiger / Robben / Ribéry generation, winner of the 2013 Champions League, and the next, which triumphed in 2020 with the Gnabry, Coman, Goretzka and other Kimmich.

A new handover is currently being prepared. Robert Lewandowski (33) expressed on Saturday evening his wish to leave this summer. Manuel Neuer (36 years old) and Thomas Müller (32 years old) are not eternal. Unlike the club, which seems capable of dominating Germany for a long time to come, with or without a play-off.


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