Bundesliga, We Have Problem: Bayern Munich Annihilate Borussia Dortmund, Close in on Another Title (Alternative Headline: Is the Bundesliga the New Ligue 1?)

Chops April 7, 2019 279 Reads

For those of you hoping that somebody other than Bayern Munich would win the Bundesliga this campaign, you’re probably going to have to wait another year. And potentially, much, much longer.

In what would best be described as an “absolute evisceration,” Bayern Munich dismantled and destroyed Borussia Dortmund on Saturday 5-0.

The win put Bayern atop the table for the first time since October, as they now lead BVB by a point (64 to 63).

Same old, same old

This looked like the year somebody would unseat Bayern. BVB, the last team other than Bayern to win the Bundesliga, had a talented, strong, hungry squad. Led by Jadon Sancho and bolstered by Christian Pulisic, BVB had enough fire-power to make a real challenge at the title.

Until they didn’t.

A road win on Saturday would’ve propelled Dortmund to a five point lead, bolstered their confidence, and set the stage for a dogfight to the finish. A draw on the road would still have felt somewhat like a win and kept the pressure on Bayern. A 5-0 depantsing though? It’s ovah.

FiveThirtyEight now gives Bayern an 87% probability of winning the Bundesliga. Betting markets have taken futures off the boards, but expect Bayern in the -350 range when posted.

Bad for the Bundesliga

The last time Bayern Munich didn’t win the Bundesliga, Obama was still in his first Presidential term, The Artist won Best Picture, wildfire set Stannis
Baratheon’s naval fleet ablaze in Blackwater, London was hosting the Olympics, and the world was supposed to end (Dec. 21, 2012).

Borussia Dortmund, led by Jurgen Klopp (at the beginning of his amazing animated gif career), captured the 2011-12 Bundesliga title. Bayern Munich has won every title since.

Assuming they close out this campaign as champs, that’ll make SEVEN in a row.

In recent years, only Serie A is a more one-sided domestic league, with Juventus cruising to their 8th consecutive title in 2018-19. However, Serie A has produced more quality depth this decade as well, with
Internazionale, Napoli, AC Milan, and Roma all challenging at times and faring well in international competition.

LeagueTeamConsecutive Titles
Serie AJuventus7 (about to be 8)
BundesligaBayern Munich6 (about to be 7)
Ligue 1Paris Saint-Germain1 (about to be 2)
La LigaBarcelona1 (about to be 2)
Premier LeagueManchester City1

For as many jokes that Ligue 1 gets about being “PSG and no one else,” at least Monaco claimed the 2016-17 crown.

At that’s what the Bundesliga is starting to resemble: Ligue 1, where the entire league exists to feed the top club its best players.

This is leading to two main problems that may get worse before getting better (if they ever actually do):

  1. Poor international showings: PSG flamed out in this year’s Champions League Round of 16, as did Bayern and BVB. Off-year? Perhaps. Or is the lack of challenging domestic competition becoming more pronounced when it comes to Ligue 1 and Bundesliga international results?
  2. Poor public interest: Domestic and international TV rights raises the boat for all clubs in a league. The Premier League laps everyone else in TV revenue in part because of their (relative) competitive balance and international interest. The more one-sided a league becomes, like Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga, the less revenue comes in from broadcast rights. The less money that can be spread around means fewer teams can build quality squads that can compete for Champions League titles, which is another major source of revenue for clubs. The whole system is increasingly set up now for a one-team dominant league.

The “one team dominant” league model is a fairly recent invention too. In Serie A, while Juventus has dominated recently and Internazionale won five consecutive titles the previous decade, you have to go back to the 1940’s with Torino to find a team that won a significant stretch over a period of years (Torino won four in a row).

While PSG has dominated this decade and Lyon ruled the 2000’s, no Ligue 1 team won more than four straight titles in its history (and the only team to do so was during that Lyon era).

The Bundesliga hasn’t always been this way. No club has won more than four straight titles other than Bayern this decade.

The reality is, the trend in all domestic leagues other than England and Spain points to more singular team dominance. Because of TV revenue and the rewards of international success, this may not change any time soon.

The Bundesliga is what it is

The Bundesliga will still stay more relevant than Ligue 1 for one primary reason: it has become one of the premier training grounds for rising young talent (particularly, young American talent). However, the perception and reality has very much crystallized this season that the Bundesliga is a one team league. With Bayern expected to spend heavily on summer transfers, if BVB unseat Bayern this year, it may be a very long time before somebody else finally does.

The Bundesliga will still stay more relevant than Ligue 1 for one primary reason: it has become one of the premier training grounds for rising young talent (particularly, young American talent). However, the perception and reality has very much crystallized this season that the Bundesliga is a one team league. With Bayern expected to spend heavily on summer transfers, if BVB unseat Bayern this year, it may be a very long time before somebody else finally does.

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