The return from the winter break wasn’t kind to league leaders Bayern Munich, losing to a well prepared and efficient Borussia Monchengladbach 3-1 at the Borussia-Park, bringing Gladbach to only a point behind the Bavarian giants with goals from Marco Reus and a Patrick Hermann brace.
And don’t think this is a two horse race. Both Dortmund and Schalke have 34 points and a game, with a good chance of joining Bayern at the top spot with 37 points. As usual, the Bundesliga provides the tightest and most exciting championship battle around the continent’s premier leagues.
Bundesliga teams don’t excel in the Champions league, except for certain Bayern Munich campaigns. Bayern are the red giant of the league in Germany, but their dominance is more of an on again/off again type, winning the title every other year. Rest of the time? Wide open, as Dortmund, Stuttgart, Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen have also been among the title holders in recent years.
This isn’t Spain, which had its competitive days of the early 00’s, when Valencia won 2 league titles and Deportivo grabbed one as well. Since then, only two teams dominate the landscape, as the rest just shriveled up in face of the two giants battling it out at the local and continental stage.
Italy? Slowly coming back, but still doesn’t provide what the Bundesliga can. The Premier League is considered the best for years, offering the right combination of unpredictability even for the best teams when visiting combative relegation bound teams and teams strong enough to create interest at the top of the table and carry on that success in the Champions League.
This year is different, as both Manchester teams failed to reach the round of 16, while Chelsea and Arsenal don’t remind us of teams that can go all the way. Germany, isolating their performances in the Champions League, provides the best combination of quality, attacking football and competitiveness.
It’s great to have a big team for everyone to hate, and to set the bar for excellence and achievements. Bayern have been perfect at that role, while still not taking the competitiveness out of the league. The different financial structure of the Bundesliga provides that fairness, which makes it the best, or at least the most entertaining, European league this season.