Why Bayern, Dortmund Can Cement Bundesliga's Status as World's Best

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IApril 1, 2013

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 06:  Mario Gotze (2nd L) of Borussia Dortmund celebrates with his teammates after scoring his sides second goal as Goalkeeper Iker Casillas of Real Madrid sits dejected on the pitch during the UEFA Champions League group D match between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on November 6, 2012 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

When both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund line up in the Champions League quarterfinals this week, they will be doing so knowing that they are both now considered to be among the favourites for the title.

For the first time since the early 2000s, the Bundesliga can now present two sides that have real ambitions to concurrently challenge Europe's elite.

Given the struggles of the Premier League sides this year, and the travails of Spain's representatives in the last 16, the debate as to Europe's best league is once more well and truly open.

In many ways it is a futile debate. How should the best league in Europe and, for all intents and purposes, the world be judged?

Is it the most competitive? Is it the league with the best team? Or is it the league with the biggest selection of "elite" sides? Using any category, depending on your own personal point of view, you could come up with any number of answers.

In recent years, it has often boiled down to an argument between the Premier League and Spain's La Liga over which league is the best.

However, it would appear that the Bundesliga may have overtaken both in a number of areas. Bayern and Dortmund reaching the Champions League semifinals could well tip the balance Germany's way.

The Bundesliga has some natural advantages over its competitors in terms of how it is regarded by outside audiences. It is perceived my many to be one of the fairest and most supporter friendly leagues on earth.

While many of the eye-catching ticket price figures often quoted on social networks are misrepresentative, it is true that the Bundesliga is generally cheaper than many of its competitors and also attracts large, loyal following.

Average attendance figures, as shown here, are impressive and currently place the league second only to their English equivalent. (ESPN)

While commercially it is far from competing with the all powerful Premier League, the Bundesliga will surely offer much room for expansion in the coming years. It's competitive nature, atmospheric stadiums and, now, top level teams make it an attractive proposition.

With a more equal division of TV rights money than either Spain or Italy as shown here on Bundesliga Fanatic, the league promises to maintain the very competitiveness that made it successful, even should it markedly grow.

Competitiveness from top to bottom, while maintaining a high standard of football, is surely what makes a great league. It is what has made the Premier League such a marketable commodity, and it is what also ranks the Bundesliga ahead of Spain and Italy.

In terms of all off-field based criteria, it ranks well ahead of both the Spanish and Italian leagues. Therefore, logically, the natural competition for best league in the world is the Premier League.

After all, surely the "best" league is the best organised, providing the optimum balance between entertainment, quality and, of course, equal opportunity to all competitors.

The Bundesliga cannot compete with the Premier League's results in Europe over recent years. However, it has well and truly left the English league trailing this season, while Bayern have made two finals in the past three years.

As if to reinforce its current advantage this season, champions Borussia Dortmund overcame English champions Manchester City over two ties earlier this season, while Bayern achieved likewise against Arsenal in the last 16.

At the moment, then, it is pretty much status quo. The Premier League can point to its recent history, but the Bundesliga clearly has the better sides this season. Two sides in the semifinal and that dominance will become even more pronounced.

It is true that the Spanish league offers three quarterfinalists, while Barcelona can point to a fine recent Champions League record. La Liga, though, lacks many of the off-field qualities listed above and shows little sign of improving.

With Dortmund facing Malaga this week, it could well be a direct matchup of the two nations that secures the Bundesliga's pole position.

Should both Bayern and Dortmund qualify for the next round, the best the Spanish competitors could do is equal their total of two semifinalists. The Premier League, meanwhile, is already out of contention.

A semifinal place for both remaining sides, then, and Germany would have every right to proclaim itself the best league in Europe—for a few months at least.


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