Bayern Munich have been knocked out of the Champions League again. They haven’t reached the final since 2013 when they won it and the club is in a European demise and crisis, if we’re going to believe their fans and their officials anyway. The common excuse for Bayern Munich is usually that the Bundesliga lacks competition and that this is the main reason to their European ‘failure.
Many seem to argue that Bayern complain that the Bundesliga is the reason for their European shortcomings and perhaps rightly so. It would be fair to say that Bayern would be nowhere near where they are today – both international and domestic – without the Bundesliga. They have formed a solid core of league specialists.
Players like Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski were all brought in when they were either in their prime or nearing it. These were seasoned Bundesliga players, actors that had been a part of and contributed to prolific Bundesliga sides for at least two years. Bayern chose to snip these players from their clubs, in some cases through dubious acts, and that is why Bayern Munich 2018 is entirely made up of former Bundesliga players, or at least a very high percentage.
Due to the opinion that the Bundesliga is not the easiest league to play in because of the tactical and physical side of it, some major teams prefer buying from within. Borussia Dortmund have specialised in finding excellent quality for virtuous prices and so have Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt and Hoffenheim. Bayern are the same, but an extreme version of it. They favour seasoned Bundesliga players who know the league before players from Ligue 1 or La Liga. However, this is also where Bayern shoot themselves in the foot.
By buying seasoned top players from other potential rivals, Bayern have the best team possible for the Bundesliga, which is one good reason to their continued dominance. However, this choice of focus makes it harder for Bayern to compete in Europe. Let’s say that Bayern’s inadequacies in Europe are mainly due to the lack of competition in Bundesliga, then that is because Bayern have destroyed the other team’s chances of success. By buying Neuer, Lewandowski and Hummels, Bayern create the perfect Bundesliga squad, but by doing so they also diminish their own competition in the domestic league, thus creating their own problem. It’s the Uli Hoeness-paradox.
I am in no way stating that Bayern can not win the Champions League with Bundesliga players for that is very much a possibility. I do however argue that Bayern cannot morally complain about a situation that they’ve put themselves in. If they chose to blame the Bundesliga for their own shortcomings, which would be no surprise to anyone, then they ridicule themselves, their own self-image and their own transfer policy as well.
By Axel Falk.