Bundesliga Teams Are Making History in Europe

Ryan BaileyFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2012

VALENCIA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 20:  Andres Guardado (R) of Valencia duels for the ball with Javi Martinez of Bayern Muenchen during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Valencia CF and FC Bayern Muenchen at Estadio Mestalla on November 20, 2012 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Much praise has been heaped on La Liga teams competing in the Champions League this season, as all four Spanish sides have managed to qualify for the Round of 16.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Malaga have pulled off an impressive feat, but it is not nearly as impressive as the collective effort of the Bundesliga's representatives in Europe.

For the first time in history, all three Bundesliga sides in the Champions League—Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Schalke—have qualified top of their respective groups.

Even more impressively, it is the first time seven German sides are still competing in Europe going into the winter break.

Bayer Leverkusen, Hannover 96, VfB Stuttgart and Borussia Mönchengladbach will all be represented in the Europe League Round of 32 draw, making Germany the best represented country in Europe.

It is also the only European country with all its representatives still competing in Europe this season. Clearly enjoying this continental success, German newspaper Bild has dubbed the teams "The Magnificent Seven".

Perhaps the most magnificent of the DFB teams is reigning Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund. From finishing bottom of their group in last year's competition, Die Schwarzgelben finished top of Group D, fending off the champions of England, Spain and the Netherlands.

Only Paris Saint-Germain finished the group stage with a better record, while Jürgen Klopp's men have produced some of the best football of the tournament so far in the "Group of Death". This writer considers Dortmund a favorite at the final at Wembley next May.

Their fierce rivals Schalke may be experiencing bad enough domestic form to result in the sacking of coach Huub Stevens, but they dominated Group B, pulling off impressive away victories at Arsenal and Olympiacos.

Bayern Munich, meanwhile, may be the only German side to have lost a game in the Champions League, but they've also scored the most goals, thanks in part to 4-1 and 6-1 victories over BATE and Lille respectively.

It's a similar story of German dominance in the Champions League's younger (and more heavily berated) sibling, the Europa League.

While last year's finalists Athletic Bilbao and established sides like Udinese and PSV have fallen at the group stage hurdle, the Bundesliga teams are charging on.

Perhaps Germany's most impressive Europa League is Hannover 96, who finished atop Group F undefeated in just their second season in the competition.

Similar credit must go to Sami Hyypiä's Bayer Leverkusen, who won four of their six matches and conceded only two goals at the group stage—a feat matched only by Lazio.

Germany's current European success is by no means anomalous. In 2009/10, six Bundesliga teams survived past Christmas. The same number of teams prospered in 2004/05, 2005/06 and 2007/08.

In 1997, Dortmund lifted the Champions League while Schalke were the proud recipients of the UEFA Cup. If the Magnificent Seven continue to proposer, a similar accomplishment is not out of the question in 2013.

Such consistent success is also great news for German football from a financial perspective. According to Bild, Borussia Dortmund have made €17.1 million in prize money so far in the Champions League. Bayern and Schalke have each reaped €16.6 million.

For reaching the Final in 2012, Bayern Munich were awarded a hefty €41.73 million.

With such a large amount of the UEFA prize kitty ending up in Germany, Bundesliga sides are also gaining an advantage in terms of the forthcoming FIFA Financial Fair Play Regulations.

While oil-rich sides like Chelsea, PSG and Manchester City continue to fail to spend within their means, all but three Bundesliga sides adhere to the "50 percent plus one" rule, meaning members are majority owners.

When others must curb their financial enthusiasm in the coming years, Bayern and co will continue to proposer in their fiscally responsible set-ups, while packing stadiums with fans buying some of the cheapest tickets in Europe.

Considering the current situation in German football, the rest of Europe has every right to be green with envy.