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Thursday April 25 2013
The Bundesliga Problem

The Bundesliga and Liga dominate the Champions League this season, but Susy Campanale feels two very strong teams do not a great League make.

It looks as if we are heading for an all-German Champions League Final at Wembley, as Bayern Munich demolished Barcelona 4-0 and Borussia Dortmund confirmed their group phase qualities by beating Real Madrid 4-1. Does this mean the Bundesliga is the strongest tournament in Europe? Anything but.

Yes, these are two excellent teams who invested wisely in stars and play some fantastic football. They have also dominated the Bundesliga to an embarrassing degree. Bayern Munich were already crowned champions of Germany in-between Champions League quarter-final ties with Juventus in April. They are currently 20 points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund with a goal difference of +75.

Many sides are runaway winners in their domestic tournaments, but the problem with Germany is when you look beyond the top two. Not only are Bayern 20 points clear of Borussia, they are also 28 points in front of third-placed Bayer Leverkusen and have almost double the tally of Schalke in fourth. It’s a two-team League, so no wonder Bayern and Borussia are so fresh reaching the semi-finals, as they can comfortably field a bunch of kids and still thrash the opposition.

Frankly, Barcelona and Real Madrid ought to be a lot fresher than they currently are at this stage of the season. While not as embarrassingly one-sided as in Germany, La Liga is also a completely unbalanced tournament. Barcelona are 13 points clear of Real Madrid and 15 ahead of third-placed Atletico Madrid. The next one down, the team going into the Champions League preliminary round, is Real Sociedad with a gap of 29 points from the leaders. The top two positions are guaranteed before the start of any campaign, so the others are just fighting for scraps behind them. Once again, Barça and Real can rest as many stars as they like and still comfortably secure victories on a domestic level. Perhaps they are more tired because, like Serie A, they have 20 teams rather than the Bundesliga’s more manageable 18.

In Serie A, the situation is rather different and although it makes this League much more intriguing over the course of a season, it is to the absolute detriment of European competitiveness. It is widely considered that Juventus have run away with this Scudetto, although their lead at the top from Napoli is only 11 points. They are 18 clear of third-placed Milan, but from there on it’s an absolute bear-pit. From Milan down, there are six sides within an eight-point radius, all of them capable of qualifying for Europe. These include Inter, who won the Champions League only three years ago, and Europa League quarter-finalists Lazio.

It has been clear for several years now that Italian teams cannot handle several competitions simultaneously. Inter only managed it in the year of the Treble by winning the title with a slender two-point gap over Roma in the final round. Rotating the squad in Serie A leads to dropped points, like Napoli last year who went far in Europe only to end up fifth in the League. Rotating the squad in Europe to protect Serie A status provides embarrassing results on the continent, such as Napoli, Inter and Udinese in the Europa League. Lazio managed to balance three competitions up until the end of March, then collapsed under the weight of a too-long campaign and look to be running on empty.

What is the key, then? Cutting Serie A down to 18 or even 16 teams has to be the first step. It is no coincidence that Italian football has struggled to make an impact in Europe since the League was expanded to 20 sides in 2004. From 1994 to 2004, there were seven Italian sides in Champions League Finals. From 2004 to 2013 there were only three. It may well make Serie A even more competitive within its own confines, but fewer games will keep players fresh, costs down and fans not suffering from fixture list overkill. It won’t solve everything, but it’s a good start.

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Have your say...
And developing great talent I believe that lega should consider forcing teams to have 3 or 4 academy graduates in their teams which would force clubs to focus on primiveras and developing those young talents needed then u will have great teams with balanced budget the non eu quota is not a solution and Germany and Spain are an example of that in addition it has been tried before and didn't yield great results lega calcio should draw smart policies and rules rather than the outdated ones
on the 25th April, 2013 at 11:57pm
Well cutting the teams down to eight allow the teams in Europe some breather but also be responsible for fixtures should be a but smarter for instance juve had to play inter bayern peaches inter lazio milan this takes away a lot if energy. Also serie A should follow the German developing philosophy Germany was suffering in the beginning of 2000 but the transformation in term if focusing in youngster and adopting the ffp long time before Europe allowed those teams to have healthy BS
on the 25th April, 2013 at 11:52pm
this might honestly be the first time i have ever disagreed with you susy. you and everyone else is wrong on this. the reasons mainly comes down to money. finances. all italian sporting directors are saying the same thing. it is impossible to compete with the likes of barca, real, bayern and dormund when they can splash enormous amounts of money! even juves marrotta said it. now changes must be made in italy. stadiums MUST be privately owned. write an article about full stadiums & ticket sales.
on the 25th April, 2013 at 11:08pm
I couldn't agree more. All the leagues have pro's and cons. One of my favourite aspects about Serie A is the inter city derbies you have which aren't as fiery elsewhere.

Should definitely reduce the number of teams to 18 which would also boost attendances a little.

Serie A is way more competitive than EPL and yeah fine its not as "exciting" but that's because the teams possess some knowledge as how to defend. Weakest teams in England are woeful at the back.
on the 25th April, 2013 at 10:44pm
There is nothing to argue. The Bundesliga is a one team league and that one team (Bayern) are often so unbalanced and presumptuous that they cost themselves. In what top league does the defending 2time champs sell players to their rival, a week before the semi-final, when they are possibly going to play that rival in the CL Final? As someone who watches all the leagues and loves the Bundesliga, I can say that it is easily #4 on the continent. And there isn't much room for discussion there.
on the 25th April, 2013 at 10:43pm
Hmmm you are right about that Serie A is more competitive in that there is little difference in points. I'm a Juventus fan but I do not agree with you in some respects. I have been saying this for a long time that Germany is in fact the strongest league in the world. The teams are very strong and do you really think the likes of Ac Milan/Inter/Roma/Lazio/ManUtd/Tottenham etc etc would easily push over the likes of Schalke/Bayer Leverkusen who are in fact as u say way off the pace. I doubt it
on the 25th April, 2013 at 10:17pm
No, no, no. I was having this discussion with my mate. Whilst it is true that two strong teams don't make a league...Serie A, our league, is nothing...the reason the gap is so tight is because apart from Juventus, (and I'm a Roma fan) the rest of Serie A teams are inconsistent, have no direction and would get slaughtered in europe...THE REAL PROBLEM, is that we have lost our identity. What ever happened to our fortress arenas? Gladiator defences? Stop changing to this attacking philosophy!!
on the 25th April, 2013 at 9:51pm
Thanks for defending the virtues of Serie A. The domination of La Liga and Bundesliga by two teams each is indeed unhealthy. And there is no end in sight to their hegemony. Bayern, RM and Barca are set to dominate their leagues for the foreseeable future. Dortmund, the only real underdog here, might struggle to keep up.
on the 25th April, 2013 at 9:28pm
Bayern are having an anomaly of a season and should be applauded for it, they are currently breaking every record. The mid table teams play entertaining and competitive foorball and always take points off the top teams, but as I said, bayern are amazing this year. As for serie a being competitive, give me a break! Juve are by far superior and rarely need to get out of first gear, this is withour a decent striker. Once cavani leaves, its back to mid table.
on the 25th April, 2013 at 9:14pm

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