The Bundesliga: the best football league in Europe

Courtesy of onlineticketexpress.com.

I know that a lot has happened over spring break in the soccer world, and lots of it will be worth debating and talking about. Andre Villas Boas was fired by Chelsea and has now become just another statistic that adds to the conclusion that Chelsea is the worst place to be manager outside of Brazil. Inter Milan is still languishing below the Champions League places in Serie A and looks set to bow out to Marseille unless they manage to start playing like they did under Jose Mourinho. Fulham was incapable of getting four wins in a row at Aston Villa and so has only equalled its record in the top division of three wins out of three. Messi gave an interview where he reaffirmed why he is such a fan favorite by claiming that manager Pep Guardiola was the most important cog in the Barcelona team and not himself (quite unlike a Mr CR7).

However, this article is not going to be about my frustrations with Fulham’s away form, which is dreadful and possibly the worst ever in the Premier League. Instead, I want to just write down officially why the Bundesliga, a league that I haven’t touched very much in this column, is probably, in the next few years at least, going to be the best league in Europe to watch.

Firstly, one boring point to get off my chest: the Bundesliga will be in existence producing top-quality players and contenders for European prizes much longer than all the other leagues in Europe if the financial state of soccer remains as is. The Bundesliga has financially stable clubs that compete based on the money that they earn each year and no more than that. It is just worth pointing out — and I know I made a fuss about it before — that the Bundesliga is financially healthy and has consistently the highest average attendance of games in Europe. Ten of the top 25 highest average attendances for soccer games are for clubs in Germany. The fan base and fiscal responsibility will maintain high-level soccer for a very long time.

Now that I have the financial responsibility lecture out of the way, I can go for the more soccer-related points. Germany’s national team is one of the best in the world and plays a very fast attacking style that is great fun to watch. There are great players in that team like Mesut Özil, Lukas Podolski, Mario Götze and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Each of those players was on the German national team at a very young age and each proved himself to be invaluable because of the advantages of playing the Bundesliga. Due to financial constraints, teams are willing to play talented young players and give them a chance because they are cheaper.

The clubs that produce these players also know that they will either get to keep hold of some of them, like Lewis Holtbyat Schalke, or they know that they can get some money for a good talent. For example, Podolski was sold to Bayern in 2006 for 10 million Euros.

The German youth system produces so many talented players at a phenomenal rate. While Barcelona and Real Madrid produce a lot of players that will end up in La Liga, the German clubs each produce their own youth players of a high standard. Bayern Munich, Schalke, and Borussia Dortmund may be the largest producers of quality youth players but smaller teams like Kaiserslauten, Cologne and Hertha Berlin also consistently produce a few players for their own teams. The players that are really good are recognized early and given match experience.

Unlike in England or Spain, where new players have to compete with mercenaries from foreign clubs, they are given priority. Nuri Sahin made his debut at 16 and scored his first goal at 17. Sahin is just one example of many to emerge through the German system. German football is full of young talented players pushing hard with energy and enthusiasm to get into the first team of their clubs.

German youth products have recently come back into fashion with the big clubs in Europe as more clubs try to get their own young German. Whether that is Real Madrid getting hold of the German-Turkish contingent or most clubs in the world wondering just how much they will have to pay for Götze or Toni Kroos. There is a good reason why rich clubs want these players and that is because the Bundesliga nurtures young talent like no other league.

James is a sophomore. You can reach him at jivey1@swarthmore.edu.

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