The German soccer season may have just started, but Bayern Munich has already shown they are unbeatable. Is it time for the Bundesliga to implement playoffs?
Can anyone stop Bayern Munich this season?
That’s the question many are already asking after the Bavarian club, winners of the domestic league title for the past 10 straight years, has shown dominance from the start.
The club defeated RB Leipzig 5-3 on July 30 in the German SuperCup and followed that up with a 6-1 trouncing of Eintracht Frankfurt in last Friday’s Bundesliga opener.
Both RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt, winner of last season’s Europa League, are two teams some have said can contend for the league title. The fact that Bayern defeated them so easily and handily may be a bad sign that the German soccer season is over before it even gets started.
Could Bundesliga adopt a playoff system?
As a result of Bayern’s decade-long dominance, the notion that the Bundesliga needs to implement playoffs to create some parity is gaining more traction. Barring the introduction of a salary cap, which doesn’t exist in European soccer, a playoff system may be what’s needed to make the season less predictable.
Last February, German league chief executive Donata Hopfen, in comments to the Bild-am-Sonntag newspaper, lauded the merits of a cup-style finale to decide the championship.
“The league would, of course, be more attractive if there was more competition at the top,” he said. “If playoffs help, then we’ll talk about playoffs. We shouldn’t forget, though, that Bayern has done a super job in the last years.”
Bayern has won every league title since the 2012-13 season and are the heavy favorites to do it again this spring despite losing scoring ace Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona over the summer. However, the addition of Sadio Mane from Liverpool has kept Bayern a cut above everyone else.
Playoffs would make for great TV, both in Germany and across the world, given that the concept used to decide champions in American sports remains largely unheard of in most of the soccer world.
The way it could work would be to allow the top eight teams to advance to a bracket-style tournament with teams playing home-and-away series. The Germans aren’t afraid of trying new things. For example, the league already employs a distinctive method to determine the clubs to be promoted to and relegated from the Bundesliga and second-tier Bundesliga 2.
Playoffs generally aren’t needed in other European leagues. Bayern’s strong start and inevitable run could mean that German soccer officials need to seriously look at ways to make the Bundesliga relevant again.
Otherwise, it’s no fun to watch a competition that’s over even before it barely gets started.