How Does the Bundesliga Compare to the Rest of Europe's Elite Leagues?

Simon Edmonds@@Eddie_EdmondsCorrespondent IDecember 20, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02:  Franck Ribery of Muenchen takes on Yaya Toure of Manchester City during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Manchester City and FC Bayern Muenchen at Etihad Stadium on October 2, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

The Bundesliga is widely regarded as one of the best leagues in world football.

With elite sides like Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen battling it out for the title year after year, it’s not a huge surprise that German football is the most attended in the whole of Europe, as can be seen on Sports Business Daily.

In the past few campaigns the league has seen a sudden surge in both global popularity and notoriety and has now even surpassed Italy’s Serie A in UEFA’s rankings—thus allowing four German sides to compete in the Champions League every season with Italy being relegated down to three slots.

As a result of Bayern’s recent domination and inheritance of the mantle of “best team in the world” from FC Barcelona, some are now even going as far as to suggest that the Bundesliga is the best top flight division in all of Europe (and as such, the world).

But how accurate are these claims? Is Germany’s premier division really the best out there?

In terms of its goals per game the statistic, it would certainly appear so. 

The Bundesliga currently leads the chart in goalscoring averages across Europe's top five leagues, with a whopping 3.24 strikes tallied up every game.

Average goals per game
La Liga2.88
Serie A2.78
Premier League2.63
Ligue 12.41

This supreme advantage over their nearest rivals undoubtedly answers all questions over which division is the most entertaining to watch—but does this necessarily mean the games are of the highest quality?

It's an age-old debate in football whether more goals in a match automatically make for a better game. 

In truth, there have been hundreds of occasions over the past century where a 0-0 draw has had fans on the edge of their seats, while a standard 3-1 victory leaves some feeling uninspired.

So what does this superior goal tally really mean for Germany? 

In earnest it's both a positive and a negative when making a comparison to the rest of Europe.

On the one hand it shows that defensive duties are either non-existent or at best a secondary concern when it comes to a team's setup.

When you look at most Bundesliga sides that is more than apparent, with the majority of teams' best players all being found in offensive positions.

While this does allow for some cracking attacking play (hence that entertainment factor), it also detracts somewhat from the overall quality of a game.

In the Premier League and Serie A there may not be as many goals on average, but that is down to stronger and more organised defenses. 

This lack of defensive talent is more than made up for going forward however.

With strikers like Robert Lewandowski, Mario Mandzukic and Max Kruse, but also Stefan Kiessling and Julian Draxler (to name but a few), as well as offensive midfield talents like Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Marco Reus, accompanied by Thomas Mueller and Henrikh Mkhitaryan bolstering the league, there can be little doubt that the Bundesliga boasts the best array of offensive superstars.

Robert Lewandowski playing for Poland
Robert Lewandowski playing for PolandAdam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images

However, while these players are all of a world-class standard, a certain pattern in regards to which teams they play for starts to emerge.

Competitiveness is a key factor in determining the quality of a league. If one or two sides are easily able to pull away from the chasing pack, it would tend to suggest a lack of depth.

Last season it was incredible how practically every top division in Europe was won by a country mile. Manchester United (England), Juventus (Italy) and FC Porto (Portugal) as well as PSG (France), Barcelona (Spain) and, of course Bayern Munich, all ran out winners of their respective leagues with consummate ease.

This year that has been well and truly rectified in most divisions (particularly the Premier League), with a whole host of sides mounting real challenges for the title.

In Germany however, that seems not to be the case—with Bayern already opening up a seven point gap to Leverkusen and a whopping 12 point gap over BVB at these still relatively early stages.

Gaps between top two sides
BundesligaBayern Munich (44)+7Bayer Leverkusen (37)
Serie AJuventus (43)+5Roma (38)
Ligue 1PSG (43)+2Monaco (41)
Premier LeagueArsenal (35)+2Liverpool (33)
La LigaBarcelona (43)0Atletico Madrid (43)

While there is time for the sides below them to catch up, one has to surmise that with a team of Bayern's pedigree to cope with, that won't be happening any time soon.

The Bundesliga is a little top-heavy right now, and this factor in itself is probably the main source of argument for those who doubt its superiority. 

Aside from the football, one has to remark at the amazingly efficient (would we really expect anything less from the Germans?) way that the league is run.

While money is inflated and ludicrous across all European top flights, the Bundesliga does a good job of at least mediating this somewhat. 

Last year Bayern even went as far as to refund all season tickets owing to how easily they won the title.

This kind of behavior and organisation is something that a lot of other top leagues should take note of and try to emulate.

So, is the Bundesliga the best in the world? 

To be quite frank, in this reporter's opinion there is no "best league in the world."

There are aspects of the German league that are superior to their counterparts—but the same could be said of any of these elite setups.

La Liga has the best two players in the world, the Premier League is the closest and most open, Serie A has the most tradition and passionate fans.

Every league has its own merits and faults. What I definitely can conclude however, is that the Bundesliga more than earns its rite to be cataloged among the very best of them. 


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