After last year’s Champions League final with two German teams, Bundesliga fans started to dream of leaving the Premier League behind in the UEFA ranking. Leverkusen’s and Schalke’s last knockout matches have created some doubts about that.
The Bundesliga continuous to show a very inconsistent picture in the Champions League. While Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund demonstrated with impressive away wins why they were playing the last year’s Champions League final, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke 04 received very comprehensive defeats at home.
In the Bundesliga table these teams are currently in positions 2 and 4, which is why one has to wonder, why the league's teams apart from Bayern and Dortmund simply don’t have what it takes to be internationally competitive.
Leverkusen is probably not seen as a defensive bastion in the Champions League, after results like the 0-4 against PSG, the 0-5 against Manchester United in this season’s group phase and a 1-7 two years ago against Barcelona. Unexpectedly, hope comes from the recent international record of another Bundesliga team.
In the season 2008/09 Borussia Dortmund lost in the qualifying match ahead of the first round against Udinese. Two years later they qualified for the European League, but didn’t manage to pass the group phase.
In the season after that the team actually qualified for the Champions League, but once again didn’t manage to make it to the second round. In the 2012/2013 season they had an almost perfect international season and made it to the Champions League final.
Even though the team has changed a lot since the matches against Udinese six years ago, there is still somebody in charge who gained more experience every year and learned how to be internationally successful, namely the coach Jürgen Klopp.
Leverkusen’s coach Sami Hyypiä and his counterpart at Schalke, Jens Keller, show almost every week that they do have the potential to become very good coaches, but both are still young and internationally inexperienced in European competition as managers.
If they are given enough time to develop then the chances are not bad, with the hope they can finally make a telling impact in the Champions League.
Until that time one has to admit that the Premier League is no worse in terms of depth than the Bundesliga, with just the top-tier quality of Bayern and Dortmund standing out.
image: © Dmitry Neymyrok