Two weeks ago, I subtly made the statement that the German Bundesliga is “the most competitive league in Europe over the past couple of years” in my column. This statement is more than just my opinion; there is some concrete evidence to support this notion.
To illustrate my point, I would like to focus on this year’s UEFA Champions League season. The Bundesliga is represented by three teams—Borussia Dortmand, FC Schalke 04 and FC Bayern München. Each one of these teams not only advanced out of the group stage, but they claimed the top spot in their groups.
The English still desperately try to hold on to the “fact” the English Premier League and Great Britain have the best soccer in the world. I just don’t see it. How can a league play the best soccer in the world but be repeatedly beaten by another league?
Two of the German teams, Dortmand and Schalke, finished with more points than and ahead of Manchester City FC and Arsenal FC respectively—Manchester City did not even advance to the Round of 16.
Let’s just say, for sake of my argument, that the EPL is the standard for the best league in Europe.
As I just said, two of the EPL’s representatives in the Champions League finished behind two from the Bundesliga. And the trend of German success hasn’t stopped after the group stage.
The first leg of the Round of 16 took place over the past two weeks. While Dortmand and Schalke both played to a draw against their opponents, they did so away from their home stadiums and collected away goals, which are coveted in the Champions League. This is an advantage for the two German sides; all they have to do now is win at home in front of their own fans.
Bayern München, on the other hand, had little trouble in their first-leg matchup against Arsenal. Jupp Heynckes’ side entered the contest last Tuesday as confident as I have ever seen them. And it was made more impressive considering the first leg was played at Arsenal Stadium in London.
Bayern set the tone early in the game, getting out to a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute of the game. Throughout the vast majority of the contest, the only audible fans were those who followed the Reds to London. Bayern’s dominance on the field and the backing of their fans in a hostile environment propelled it to a 3-1 victory.
This was one of the most dominating performances of the year for Bayern, who have only lost two games in all league play, and its mastery over one of the most storied clubs in Great Britain made waves across Europe.
One Spanish paper exclaimed “A storm by the name of Bayern raged over London yesterday. Kroos, Müller and Mandzukic sealed the Germans’ success. Only a miracle at the Allianz Arena can save Arsenal now.”
The most praise, however, for Bayern may have come from the British press, which ironically still rides the "EPL is better than any other league" train.
The Sun proclaimed “Brilliant Bayern handed the Gunners a Champions League lesson. The only hope for the return is a minor footballing miracle” and The Guardian declared “Compact and unbelievably focused, Bayern needed only seven minutes to reduce Arsène Wenger’s tactics to rubble. Arsenal need a miracle in the return if they are to make the quarter-finals.”
The Bundesliga’s three representatives are poised to move on to the final eight in the Champions League. And where is the EPL? Of the three teams representing “the best league in Europe,” only one, Manchester United, has a shot at advancing, but face a tough test against Real Madrid after the two teams came to a draw in the first leg in Madrid.
I say this to anyone who argues the EPL is the best soccer in the world: you are wrong.
If Bayern, Dortmand and Schalke all manage to win—at their home stadiums—in the second leg of the Round of 16 and move on to the quarterfinals, it will only validate the German Bundesliga as the most competitive and strongest league in Europe. And yes, that would mean it is the best league in Europe.
The EPL’s time has come to an end; the German’s are the new kings of Europe.