Bundesliga

Bayern vs. Barca Shows Bundesliga Deserves More Credit

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Bayern Munich defeated FC Barcelona 3-0 in Champions League play on Wednesday. In doing so, they secured first place in what many saw as a difficult section, with a game to spare.
The Catalan giants have been humbled by the Bavarians for the fifth time in a row, with a combined score of 19-2 in those meetings.

After Inter Milan had defeated Czech champions Victoria Pilsen in the other game of the group earlier in the evening, it was already clear that the Italians would join Bayern in the Champions League’s round of 16, while Barcelona would have to settle for a place in the Europa League knockout playoffs for the second time in a row. But the lackluster performance by the Catalan side had to have still been worrying for everyone associated with that club. Unlike in the reverse fixture in Munich, where they dominated much of the first half, Barcelona was completely hopeless in this match against a Bayern team that had to do without two of their leaders in Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller. The Bavarians’ season is also not going so perfectly that such a result would have been inevitable.

The Consequences

This will have major consequences for the Catalans. They will lose much in terms of prestige and respect, but most of all financially. Despite having debts to the tune of about €1 billion, they were somehow still able to go on a major shopping spree this past summer.

Former Bayern star Robert Lewandowski was arguably their biggest signing then. After having spent many years in the German Bundesliga, the Polish striker hoped to take a step forward in his career in Barcelona. What he found there instead was a nearly bankrupt, Europa League-bound club.
The most recent victories that Bayern achieved against Barca are no accident. They are the long-term result of decades of sane financial and football decision-making. The Bavarians bought the best players they could get, without ever breaking the bank or disturbing team chemistry.

Barca in particular did beak the bank many times with expensive stars who didn’t deliver nearly as much as their transfer value would indicate. Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, and Ousmane Dembélé particularly come to mind when discussing this topic. Not to mention the lavish contracts that Lionel Messi signed while he was still at the club. All this weighed heavily on the legendary club’s finances.

In Germany, the DFL (Deutscher Fußball Liga), the organizational arm of the Bundesliga would refuse to give a team playing license, long before they had anywhere near the debt that the Catalans incurred. Financial discipline is a must in the German league system. There are no exceptions to this rule, not even for big names. There is of course a different culture in Spain. The public cares more about good football, oftentimes at the literal expense of a team’s financial health. For this reason, clubs like Barca are often times encouraged to spend as much as possible on players, to give fans the spectacle they desire.

This is of course not to say that German fans do not want spectacle, far from it! But the couture there is simply such that living above one’s means, or living the high life in general breeds resentment.

Final Thoughts

The Bundesliga is often called a” Farmers League” by critics who prefer Spain’s La Liga, or the English Premier League. While the former clearly lacks the glamour of the other two, it is solidly run and without oligarch team owners, who raise ticket prices to the high heavens and know next to nothing about football.

When we consider that Bayern knocked Barcelona out of the Champions League in the last two seasons, Eintracht Frankfurt eliminated them from last year’s Europa League, Borussia Dortmund took out Sevilla from the Champions League this season and even RB Leipzig was able to defeat Real Madrid this past week, who is the actual “Farmer’s League”? All jokes aside, it is certainly true that the Bundesliga deserves far more credit than it gets from most people. It is a well-run, incredibly well-supported league, with a fan culture that is second to none. Even though it didn’t have much of a title race the last ten years, it still creates plenty of spectacle week in, week out.

main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Denis Knezovic is a longtime football/soccer writer, as well as a published author. He is an avid Bayern Munich and Atlanta United fan.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DenisKnezovic1
Twitter: @KnezovicDenis