Could this be as good as it gets for the Bundesliga as it challenges its European ‘partners’on the field and off it for European and commercial dominance?
The Bundesliga is the only league to have all its teams qualify through the group stages of the Champions League with all of its four teams making it to the knockout stages.
The top two leagues in UEFA’s five- year rankings, Spain’s La Liga and England’s Premier League, in contrast only managed three teams through to the next round. And out of the once glorious Serie A, only Juventus is represented.
In contrast, the Bundesliga has repeated its quadruple success of last year, when for the first time, all its teams made it through the group stages. The success underpins the high-altitude flight German football has been taking after the World Cup triumph in Rio.
The Bundesliga will celebrate Christmas happily toasting the successes of the past year and in the winter break, recharging batteries for 2015. Because only then will we see how far the Bundesliga has progressed and whether the German quartet is competitive in the knockout stage .
After the preliminary round there is considerable doubt whether Schalke and Leverkusen will avoid a repeat of last year’s knockout round bankruptcy against Real Madrid and PSG. Similarly for the domestically ailing Dortmund. So far, only Bayern Munich has again played itself into the narrow circle of European favourites.
The other three teams have the potential to at least reach the quarterfinals. Their progress will dictate whether, at the highest level, the Bundesliga has taken the next step to the top of Europe.
Martin Volkmar is a member of the Editorial Board of leading German sports channel SPORT1 and Head of the Online Desk (www.sport1.de). He has covered, among others, two World cups, two European Championships and four Champions League finals.