The Bundesliga has long been one of the world’s best leagues in terms of quality and history. Bayern Munich, a club that is a perennial Champions League favourite, combined with strong dark horses like Dortmund and the recently inducted RB Leipzig have always made it tough for other powerhouses from around Europe. It is not surprising therefore, that the league is a regular top three in Europe when it comes to Champions League country coefficients.
Real Madrid is a club simply addicted to winning the Champions League. That, coupled with the insane PR of one FC Barcelona (yes, the Europa League FCB) and some deep runs from other Spanish clubs in European competition (Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Villarreal) has led to a misleading narrative — that La Liga is much stronger than the Bundesliga. Insulting and just outright false, which is why often, the angry farmers of Germany decide to take no prisoners, and reveal to the world that glorified diving, UFC football, and poor refereeing are the only things keeping that league from an embarrassing showing in Europe.
This season saw five Bundesliga teams make the UCL group stages, a tremendous achievement in itself for the Bundesliga. However, the impressive part was yet to come... out of the five clubs, four were in groups that also featured a Spanish club. The Germans had saved the fireworks up for the grandest of stages, and they delivered. RB Leipzig romped to the UCL Ro16 with an emphatic victory against reigning champions Real Madrid. Yes, you heard that right... 6th placed Leipzig thoroughly outclassed La Liga’s crown jewel and also stomped Shakhtar 4-0 to finish with 12 points and advance from a group that very few believed they stood a chance in.
Bayern Munich had its routine yearly outings against Barcelona, dispatching the “biggest club in Spain” with a 5-0 aggregate that will see them back in familiar surroundings, the Europa League. Borussia Dortmund shellacked Sevilla with a 5-2 drumming (on aggregate) that will see the Spaniards return to their beloved competition, the Europa League. Bayer Leverkusen, despite not making it to the Ro16 of the UCL, managed to qualify for the Europa League while upsetting group favourites Atletico Madrid 4-2 on aggregate and sending them to... a black void. Yes, Atletico Madrid will be limited to La Liga football this season.
Finally, to round off the UCL Bundesliga contingent, Eintracht Frankfurt qualified from a very tricky group, outclassing Marseille and Sporting convincingly and taking the fight to Tottenham Hotspur, despite losing 3-2 on aggregate. But yes, you’re right... 4 Bundesliga clubs have made it to the UCL Ro16, sending three Spanish clubs out of the competition in the process.
“La Roja” may be the nickname of the Spanish National football team, but can also be aptly used to describe the annihilation of Spanish clubs by German farmers, because... it was a bloodbath.
The celebrations don’t stop there, however. In the Europa League, SC Freiburg has bullied its way past solid opposition, comfortably topping a group that also featured Nantes and Olympiacos. Union Berlin put Braga to the sword, giving them complete control over their future. If Union manage to beat the other Union from Belgium, they will progress to the knockouts.
Finally, in the Conference League, FC Köln will qualify for the knockouts if they manage to beat Nice. Yes, they also have their fate in their own hands in what has been one of the toughest groups in that competition.
So yes, to summarize, this has been a great season so far for Bundesliga clubs in Europe. Football fans and clubs from other leagues are making notes... you simply do not trifle with German clubs and expect to leave unscathed. Yes, Premier League clubs may be having an even better season in the group stages so far, but it remains to be seen how far they will progress in the competition. But for now, one debate has been put to rest, at least temporarily.
The Bundesliga has soundly beaten La Liga in Europe, and has cemented its spot as the second-best league, and the best fan-owned league in European football. Yes, the league that hasn’t sold its soul to oil merchants and marketing moghuls is doing well in Europe. Who would’ve thought?!!
Harvest season is here.