Thomas Berthold won the World Cup in 1990. Now, every week, he'll be telling DW News and Bundesliga Kick Off! what he thinks about the Bundesliga. We chatted to him about Bayern, Dortmund and his troubled ex-club.
Dortmund is off to a fantastic start, but can they or anyone challenge Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title?
I think the competition will come down to Dortmund and Bayern this year. Dortmund is back on track. They have a new coach so there are new dressing room speeches and new motivational tricks. You can see the difference particularly in Mkhitaryan. He's a completely new player. He was lost the past two years and now you can see his huge potential. The same is true of Ginter…Another factor is that the team looks very fit. Last year there was some discussion about overweight players, and I know that nutrition is a big issue for Thomas Tuchel. It's good for our league to have a minimum of two teams competing for the title.
English clubs paid astronomical sums for Kevin de Bruyne and other former Bundesliga players in the transfer window. How much is Premier League money influencing the Bundesliga?
We got a lot of money from the Premier League, and if we invest wisely, we can stay competitive. Look at the Spanish League. In the five-year UEFA rankings La Liga is out of sight. Football is not just about money. You can't buy success. If you could, the Premier League would win the Champions League and the Europa League every year. Investing money wisely, developing your youth teams and doing good scouting are all crucial.
How do you rate the Bundesliga internationally?
Well, Germany and the Bundesliga are currently ranked second by UEFA, but it's difficult to say one league is better than another. I would say that the Spanish league is the best in the world because Spanish teams won both big competitions. Things are competitive between Germany, England and the Italians, who are improving.
Which young Bundesliga players are you particularly impressed with?
We've developed a loot of good young players because under the leadership of our former president Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder, we really developed our youth academies. I like Johannes Geis who went from Mainz to Schalke this year. He's an interesting character. He's now playing for a major team. He's got good spirit and has a great right foot.
Should more young German players go abroad as you did? Would you recommend it?
You know, I went to Italy, and back then Italy had the best league ever. It was a big jump for me to leave Germany and play in the best league in the world. In those days, there were only two foreign players allowed per team. Nowadays it's completely different. We have an open market in Germany. But for the national team it's very important that players are going abroad and playing at big clubs, especially at big clubs. It's about pressure, behavior and education. It makes a big difference for your personal development, whether you play for a big club that's in the Champions League or a small club in the Bundesliga. It helps you mature as a footballer and as a human being.
So you'd say that if a player really wants to make his mark, he needs to head to a club like Arsenal or…
Arsenal is really good example. I know Arsene Wenger well, and if you watch Arsenal's developmental teams, they have a lot German players. Arsene Wenger intensively follows the German market, including German youth teams.
Who will be this year's pleasant surprises and who do you think will go down?
Well let's say this. Darmstadt and Ingolstadt are off to promising starts, but that happened last season with Paderborn. They got off to a great start, but in the second half of the season they lost pretty much every match. As an ex-Stuttgart player, I'm particularly disappointed by them. They just escaped relegation last season and started with a new manager and a new philosophy. It's disappointing to see them on the bottom with Gladbach. And Gladbach are a bit like Dortmund last season.
Okay, but who's your positive surprise? And Bayern don't count.
(Laughs) Maybe Eintracht Frankfurt. They made some wise transfers, and it looks like they fit together. They've come together quickly as a team.
I can't let you go without asking you about your old club, Stuttgart? On paper they should be much better than they are? What's the problem?
In my personal opinion, it's because the team has no balance between offense and defense. They have a lot of attacking players - Maxim or Ginczek, for example - with great potential. But if you're imbalanced and your defense is weak…It doesn't help to score four or five goals, if you concede six. The floodgates are open at the back. And if they don't change their system, they'll be in big trouble this season.
Interview by Jefferson Chase