In case you haven't heard the news, Bayern Munich are unstoppable.
On Tuesday evening, the Bavarians steamrollered Hertha Berlin 3-1 to mathematically claim their record 24th Bundesliga title with a record seven games left to spare. It was a record 10th straight away victory, forming part of a 19-game domestic winning streak. They are now unbeaten in 52 league games, which is—you guessed it—a record.
Pep Guardiola's side haven't been defeated by German opposition since October 2012, when a late Sidney Sam header gave Bayer Leverkusen a 2-1 victory at the Allianz Arena.
Last season, Jupp Heynckes' treble-winning side looked bulletproof. With their new Spanish manager at the helm, they seem to have improved even further.
"I am satisfied that we did it," Guardiola told The Guardian after Tuesday evening's title-clinching game, which seems like the kind of muted and dispassionate response one would expect from a supervillain with even greater devastation on his mind.
Bayern must be applauded for their dominance. Granted, they are the biggest team in Germany and have plenty of funds at their disposal, but it is the actions of individuals working as a team that has brought their success. They play the game perfectly, and at the end of the day, that is what we ultimately want to see.
However, there is an issue with Die Roten being streets ahead of their competition. It's making the league boring.
Bayern appear to be unchallenged by the rest of the league, with many passages from games this season looking more like training exercises than competitive entities.
In an article dealing with Bayern's dominance from last year, The Guardian's Rafa Honigstein quoted legendary Germany manager Sepp Herberger: "People go to the stadium because they don't know how the match will end."
When Bayern face the very real prospect of going undefeated all season, Herberger's statement is no longer true.
They are turning the title race into a foregone conclusion, and not just by outplaying everyone else: Bayern use their financial muscle to weaken the opposition.
When Borussia Dortmund threatened to deny them the Champions League title last season—adding to the heartache of losing the domestic double to them in 2011-12—they announced the purchase of Mario Gotze. They could have bought a Gotze-esque player from elsewhere in Europe, but weakening their strongest opponent was part of the strategy. They have further diminished BvB's chances of catching up next season by announcing a pre-contract agreement with their star striker Robert Lewandowski.
There is a potential solution to Bayern's dominance: Let them leave German domestic football to form part of a new European Super League.
This is by no means a new idea plucked from the air. In November 2013, Fulham manager Felix Magath told the Hamburger Morgenpost (via The Guardian) that Bayern and BvB should be excluded from the Bundesliga to play in a European competition with their Champions League ilk. Those that continually play in the Champions League, he argues, gain an unfair financial advantage over everyone else that makes them too difficult to catch up with.
In a league where annual domestic TV income is a fraction of what Premier League teams earn—and smaller than the earnings of a Champions League side in the knockout stages—this argument holds some weight.
Without Bayern, there would be more parity in the league and more revenue to be split among the remaining clubs to help strengthen them. The Bavarians, meanwhile, could continue to generate huge incomes while playing against elite continental sides who offer them more of a challenge.
The traditionalists at Bayern might baulk at leaving behind the domestic setup, and there are intrinsic issues with banning a team from a league for being "too good." For this reason, an alternate solution could be proposed: Let Bayern play in a domestic setup and a European league.
I want to reduce the [Italian] league to 16 teams and to create a large European Cup that would bring together the five biggest teams from the five best European leagues.
This effectively sounds like an expansion of the Champions League and a reduction of the domestic leagues, but it will have its advantages. The likes of Bayern would concentrate so hard on the Euro league that they would need to field a weaker team domestically, thus giving the others a chance of success.
And of course, the modern game is (sadly) all about money, and this structure would allow the bigger clubs to create enormous incomes.
Yet this system also has its problems. The exponential growth of Europe's biggest teams would surely come at the expense of the teams left behind, who would attract less sponsorship and general interest. And who would decide which teams break into the new Euro league? Would it have promotion and relegation, or would it be a closed system?
Other German teams view Bayern's dominance as a problem, but it is ultimately a nice problem to have. Their success at home and abroad is bringing more attention to the league, and they are a beacon that shows the rest of the world the German way of running a club (cheap tickets, the "50+1 rule," an emphasis on the fan experience, etc.)
A European breakaway league would be great for the teams involved, but it would further emphasise the gluttony of modern football, pushing us all closer to the bubble bursting on the unsustainable model used by many big clubs.
German sides are renowned for caring about their community, and if Bayern want to act responsibly, they would continue to care about the Bundesliga community by staying a part of it.
For now, other German fans must remember that Bayern were also dominant in the 1980s. Their current streak will one day come to an end when their fallibility is revealed—the challenge now is to find and exploit that fallibility.
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