Is the Bundesliga a two horse race?

Bayern Munich is dominating the Bundesliga once again, set for their fourth straight win of the German first division trophy. Through 19 games, Pep Guardiola’s side are ahead by 8 points above rivals Borussia Dortmund, with a goal difference of +41 (while Dortmund’s is “only” 28).

In the last six years since the 2009-2010 season, Bayern and Dortmund have split the prestigious league title between themselves every season, and in the last 30 seasons, they have won the title 23 times.

Top half of Bundesliga table

Top half of Bundesliga table

This polarity is largely due to the quality and depth of both teams and their financial prowess. The two teams get an extremely disproportional amount of the revenues and marketing deals, and other Bundesliga teams can’t compete. No other team has a chance – Borussia Dortmund are 10 points ahead of third place, and Bayern Munich is 18.

The Bundesliga is turning into a two horse race. And the polarity isn’t good. Lower teams stand no chance against these two giants, making for, very frequently, predictable results and uncompetitive matches.

Obviously, these two teams shouldn’t try to do worse so other teams can compete. That wouldn’t be sportsmanlike, and it would do the beautiful game a disservice. But something has to change to make the Bundesliga more competitive for lower level teams.

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The finances of the Bundesliga and the value of the teams (pictured to the left) are similar to what has been seen in Spain’s La Liga in years past, with FC Barcelona and Real Madrid dominating the competition and the marketing value of the league. Recently, however, Barcelona and Real Madrid have seen increasing competition from teams like Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao and (until recently) Valencia. Even if Barca and Madrid remain the financial superpowers of the league, other teams are managing to compete with them and present real threats to their title chances through making the big teams drop points. That being said, La Liga is still very polar and often predictable, and has a long way to go towards true competitiveness.

The Bundesliga may even be better than La Liga in this respect, but it needs to be said that the league’s polarity could improve. And instead of moving in the right direction like La Liga is, the Bundesliga is becoming more and more polar with each passing year, and other teams barely stand a chance. Bayern’s dominance is such that Dortmund are even starting to look like they don’t even have a chance at winning the league in the near future.

With Pep Guardiola leaving Bayern next year to go to Manchester City, it could give other German teams like Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke and Wolfsburg more of a chance to gain points on the two leaders. That is, if Guardiola is as good as everyone says he is and is leading Bayern to heights that incumbent Carlo Ancelotti won’t be able to achieve.

Guardiola has, so far, failed to win a Champions League title with Bayern, and he is likely being fired because of this failure. Ancelotti will, therefore, be pushed to win a Champions League title as his primary goal, which could give Borussia Dortmund, and maybe some other teams, more of a chance in league play.

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