LONDON – Bayern Munich’s mauling of Arsenal did more than make the Bavarians bookies’ favourites to win the Champions League. It will also go a long way in helping the Bundesliga leapfrog the Premier League in the European rankings.
For Premier League-centric fans surprised to learn that England is not top dog in the UEFA co-efficient, here’s another shock: next year there is a real chance that the most moneyed league in the world will fall behind Germany.
Over the last four seasons, the Premier League has an average co-efficient of 15.833, just better than Germany’s 15.803.
That means that German teams only have to do marginally better than the English this season to go second in the five-year rolling average (over the last four years, first placed Spain is well clear with 17.821).
Now that Bayern Munich, Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund are well-positioned to make the champions League quarter-finals, and Arsenal are as good as out, that minor miracle is a real possibility.
A minor miracle because the accepted creed that money buys success is being overturned. In terms of revenues, the Premier League is streets ahead of the Bundesliga: Deloittes recent Annual Review of Football found the top tier in England rake in some £2.3 billion, compared to £1.4 billion pounds for Germany’s elite.
On the pitch, we are seeing a different story this season.
Bayern’s class-apart performance in North London this week has been well documented, but while Schalke’s 2-0 win on the same ground earlier this season got less attention, it was equally significant given the Gelsenkirchen club’s lowly Bundesliga position.
And don’t forget Borussia Dortmund gave Manchester City the run around for long periods in their 1-1 draw at the Etihad, before beating the English champions on home turf.
The danger is that the less-moneyed Bundesliga will be a victim of its own success and see its best stars head to England’s more lucrative shores. Arsenal’s beaten manager Arsene Wenger has already said that Germany has replaced France as the European country to find top talent at decent prices.
Indeed, Germany’s economic reputation as an exporter of quality products runs true too in football.
While the likes Shinji Kagawa, Edin Dzeko, Lukas Podolski, Lewis Holtby, Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba and Gylfi Sigurdsson have swapped the Bundesliga for the Premier League, reverse trade has been noticeably thin (the Bundesliga has recently gained only the questionable talents of Hamburg duo Michael Mancienne and Jeffrey Bruma).
But this is a budget surplus Germany could well do without.
Now, the future of Dortmund’s star striker Robert Lewandowski, which is turning into a slow burning soap opera, will tell us much about the Bundesliga’s ability to compete with the Premier League’s buying power.
Germanys über-motor mouth Lothar Matthaus lit the fuse last week when he insisted that the Polish striker, whose contract is up in the summer of 2014, has already agreed to join Bayern Munich
Manchester United are thought to be the striker’s most likely non-German destination (Alex Ferguson watched Lewandowski play at Manchester City in the Champions League) with Juventus also tracking the in-form attacker.