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Matthäus: “Bayern won’t win a Champions League for the next five years!”

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Caution: hot-take ahead.

2014 FIFA World Cup Final Draw - Previews Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Uh oh, Lothar Matthäus has been talking about Bayern Munich again, and he didn’t have many nice things to say. In an article on SportBild, the former Bayern Munich and West Germany star espouses a number of opinions about the club. Chief amongst them was this little nugget, which is totally not hot take-ish at all:

Bayern will be [Bundesliga] champions for the next five years, but never Champions League winners!

It’s been five years since the historic 2013 treble under Jupp Heynckes, and most Bayern Munich fans consider another Champions League title long overdue. While six straight Bundesliga titles have come with relatively little fuss, the big-eared trophy remains elusive. Every year since 2013, Bayern have come agonizingly close, only to falter in the semifinals four out of five times, almost always to the eventual winners (the exception was Atletico Madrid in 2016).

Matthäus explains that, due to Bayern's superiority in the league, the club should have no problem retaining the Bundesliga title for the next five years. However, in his estimation, there are six to eight clubs in Europe that are at least as good as Bayern, which makes it difficult for the Bavarians to achieve international glory. Citing PSG and the English clubs as chief threats, Matthäus says that without stringent Financial Fair Play regulations in place, there is no chance for the Bavarians to win the Champions League.

Opinion time

I’m inclined to say that I agree with Matthäus’ conclusion, but not his reasoning. Bayern Munich are still the fourth-richest club in the world, and we post record profits every single year. We can compete in this transfer market, even with all these inflated prices. However, it’s not the transfers that’s holding us back. Manchester City, United, and PSG make mega-transfers every summer and never get any closer to winning the Champions League. Meanwhile Real Madrid’s period of unmatched dominance in Europe has coincided with an unusually restrained transfer policy from Florentino Perez.

Therefore, I think that people who say “Bayern need to spend or they won’t win anything” are misguided. It’s not as if spending big gives you a ticket to the Champions League final. If it did, then the likes of Manchester United should be winning it every year. Juventus bought Gonzalo Higuain for 94 million euros, and he didn’t get them any closer to the trophy. In the end, the reason Bayern won’t win a Champions League is not because of our finances, but because of a myriad of other complicated issues that surround the club — foremost our tendency to fall apart at the end of the season.

The increasing weakness of the Bundesliga hurts us, and when it becomes time to perform, Bayern Munich can’t get it going. It’s been so long since we’ve been challenged in the league that the team has forgotten how to fight hard when it matters. For that reason, unless something changes, I don’t think Bayern Munich will win the Champions League any time soon.