Bayern smashed their closest rivals on Sunday and left the rest of the Bundesliga and the rest of Europe, wondering if there was any competition left. Jonathan Harding discusses the implications from Bayern's dominance.
The sun shone brightly in Munich on Monday. It was the perfect way to welcome in the end of the Oktoberfest party season and after last night's drubbing of Dortmund, the warmth was a reminder that last night was no dream. Clear skies brought a clear mind and having digested the shock of the night before, a harsh reality has become all the more daunting for German football.
Last night's results gave birth to headlines about the Bundesliga being a league without competition, and not for the first time. Watching Bayern play fantastic football was a pleasure, but seeing the context of the bigger picture looming over the horizon was not.
It's not to say the rest of the league is playing badly - Dortmund played some of their best stuff this season in Munich on Sunday - but Bayern is just that much better, that however well you play is not good enough. And often, it does not come down to the 'big' games - Bayern's humbling defeat to Wolfsburg last season did little to stop their charge. The difference is in the week in, week out ruthlessness of the Bavarians. Simply put, Bayern don't slip up against Darmstadt. They win.
It would be easy to start asking if Dortmund can't compete, who can? Wolfsburg? They may well have money – one of the roots of the problem for Bayern's competitors – but they decided to sell the player who single-handedly made them the second strongest team in Germany. Not so clever Klaus. Leverkusen is a Champions League regular but lacking the depth or the mentality to challenge, while Schalke is led by a coach wide-eyed at Europa League trips. And as for Gladbach…
The dissection is an endless process with endless arguments. The reality of the situation is Bayern's dominance not only reduces the international attraction of the league, but also the success of other German clubs gets lost in the title-race narrative. You only have to look at how far a Dortmund, a Leverkusen or a Gladbach has come in recent years to realize the league is improving all the time. The problem is that development isn't fast enough to keep up with Bayern, which you can't blame them for. Savvy business, marketing and recruitment laid the foundation for the rise of their empire. They just did it sooner and better than anyone else.
Barring the state of Bavaria following in the footsteps of Catalonia, there is little the Bundesliga can do (and things will only get worse if Pep Guardiola's power continues to grow). I fear the day foreign investments and further bending of regulations such as the 50+1 rule are seen as answers. Such responses will do nothing but break the backbone upon which German football has grown so strong. The rest of the world should not be deterred by the lack of competition at the top, but more and more will turn off. And as much as I don't want them to, it will no longer be a surprise when they do.