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Bundesliga vs Serie A- Rise and Fall

Bundesliga vs Serie A

The Month of February, for some it’s the month of Valentine’s but for football fanatics, it’s the month of European club football (Champions League and Europa League). After some intriguing group stages matches, February marks the beginning of the knock out stages, the final phase of the competition, where the clubs from different countries fight for the ultimate price.

Italy has always been a super power in Europe but in 2010, for the first time, Italy lost the 4th champions league spot to Germany. They leapfrogged Italy in the Co-efficient ranking and they are 3rd behind Spain and England. The top 3 countries in the co efficient rankings have 7 representatives in Europe (4 in UCL & 3 in Europa). This means that there will be 4 teams from the German League in the Champions league and Italy will have 3 representatives in the same competition. The power is shifting and since then the hottest debate of recent times has been -Which league is better? Serie A (Italy) or Bundesliga (Germany).

How UEFA Co efficient works?

UEFA coefficient is the performance of teams in the European Cups during a five year period. During that period each team gets two points for a win and one point for a draw.

Bonus points are awarded for qualifying for the Champions League group phase (4 points), reaching the second round of the Champions League (5 points), and reaching the quarter, semi and final of either the Champions League or the Europa League (1 point).

For the calculation of the country ranking, points in qualification matches are halved: one point for a win and half a point for a draw. Before 1999 the usual two points for a win and one point for a draw were also used in qualifying rounds.

The so-called UEFA coefficients are calculated by taking an average, based on the total number of points divided by the total number of teams of each country.

The rankings determine the number of places allocated to an association in forthcoming UEFA club competition.

Let’s take a look at the current rankings.

After leapfrogging Italy, they are closing in on England too but that discussion is for some other time and let’s focus on how things have changed for Germany positively and how things have affected Italy negatively.

Franz Beckenbauer once dubbed the Europa league as the “losers’ cup” and Serie A fans may argue that Champions League and Europa league should be separate. A.C. Milan’s vice-president Adriano Galliani criticized the system too “I think they should separate the Champions League from the Europa League to modify the criteria for admissions.”  And it might seem unfair after seeing the last 10 year’s results in European competition.

3 Italian teams have been crowned the champions of Europe in the last 10 years and not a single winner from Germany.

In fact, the last German team to win a European cup was Bayern Munich when they beat Valencia in the Champions league final back in 2001.

But the idea is not to gauge which league has the best club but the average strength of the league as a whole and for that reason, Europa league is essential and their results should be considered.

Germany’s performance in Europe’s top club competition is gradually improving. In 2007, 2008 and 2009 Germany had one quarter-finalist in the competition and no semifinalist. Bayern then made the final in 2010 and Stuttgart made it out of the group stages only to run into Barcelona. In 2011, there were two teams in the Round of 16, with Schalke going to the semis and in 2012, the story was the same as that of 2010, with the difference being that it was Leverkusen who ran into Barcelona. Looking at the pattern, we can say that in each of the past three seasons, Germany has had two teams in the Round of 16, with one progressing to the semis or better. That, to me, is a sign of improvement.

Serie A fans have been raving about how Italian clubs are better in the Champions league but it’s not quite true even though they have won it thrice in the last ten seasons. In the last 5 seasons, German clubs have played the Italians 29 times and the Germans won 13 games losing 7 and drawing 9. Inter Milan did win one title in the middle but that does not change the fact that the German clubs got the better of the Italians in the one competition they are so arrogant about.

Italian Clubs v/s German clubs in all European competition since 2008-09

18.09.2008 2008/09 UC First Round Borussia Dortmund – Udinese

0:2

02.10.2008 2008/09 UC First Round Udinese – Borussia Dortmund

0:2

01.10.2008 2008/09 CL Group stage Inter Milan – SV Werder Bremen

1:1

09.12.2008 2008/09 CL Group stage SV Werder Bremen – Inter Milan

2:1

21.10.2008 2008/09 CL Group stage FC Bayern Munich – Fiorentina

3:0

05.11.2008 2008/09 CL Group stage Fiorentina – FC Bayern Munich

1:1

27.11.2008 2008/09 UC Group stage UC Sampdoria – VfB Stuttgart

1:1

17.12.2008 2008/09 UC Group stage AC Milan – VfL Wolfsburg

2:2

18.02.2009 2008/09 UC 1/16 Final SV Werder Bremen – AC Milan

1:1

26.02.2009 2008/09 UC 1/16 Final AC Milan – SV Werder Bremen

2:2

09.04.2009 2008/09 UC 1/4 Final SV Werder Bremen – Udinese

3:1

16.04.2009 2008/09 UC 1/4 Final Udinese – SV Werder Bremen

3:3

30.09.2009 2009/10 CL Group stage FC Bayern Munich – Juventus

0:0

08.12.2009 2009/10 CL Group stage Juventus – FC Bayern Munich

1:4

17.02.2010 2009/10 CL 1/8 Final FC Bayern Munich – Fiorentina

2:1

09.03.2010 2009/10 CL 1/8 Final Fiorentina – FC Bayern Munich

3:2

22.05.2010 2009/10 CL Final FC Bayern Munich – Inter Milan

0:2

18.08.2010 2010/11 CL Play-Offs SV Werder Bremen – UC Sampdoria

3:1

24.08.2010 2010/11 CL Play-Offs UC Sampdoria – SV Werder Bremen

3:2

15.09.2010 2010/11 CL Group stage FC Bayern Munich – AS Roma

2:0

23.11.2010 2010/11 CL Group stage AS Roma – FC Bayern Munich

3:2

29.09.2010 2010/11 CL Group stage Inter Milan – SV Werder Bremen

4:0

08.12.2010 2010/11 CL Group stage SV Werder Bremen – Inter Milan

3:0

23.02.2011 2010/11 CL 1/8 Final Inter Milan – FC Bayern Munich

0:1

15.03.2011 2010/11 CL 1/8 Final FC Bayern Munich – Inter Milan

2:3

05.04.2011 2010/11 CL 1/4 Final Inter Milan – FC Schalke 04

2:5

13.04.2011 2010/11 CL 1/4 Final FC Schalke 04 – Inter Milan

2:1

18.10.2011 2011/12 CL Group stage Napoli – FC Bayern Munich

1:1

02.11.2011 2011/12 CL Group stage FC Bayern Munich – Napoli

3:2

Rise of the Bundesliga

Over all, they have faced each other 216 times with 74 victories to the Germans 89 to the Italians and 53 draws.

One of the major reasons for the rise of Bundesliga has been the production of home-grown players. Almost decade ago, the Bundesliga and the German FA made an agreement that the German clubs must obtain a license to compete and if they can’t present a sustainable budgetary concept, they’re unlikely to qualify for a license. They must also run an education academy, in order to get the license quickly and results have been quite phenomenal. The clubs have many home grown players who get the experience and help out the national squad too. Less money is spent in the transfer market and more importance is given to their local talent. With that a vast array of talented lads are available for the national team and the results are spectacular; of the 23-man national squad announced for the World Cup in South Africa, 19 came from the Bundesliga academies, while the other four came from the Bundesliga-2 academies. In these academies, at least 12 players that are admitted in each round have to be eligible to play for Germany, thereby providing a continuous replenishment of great, young football talent.

Fans are a crucial component of the Bundesliga’s success. In Germany, the fans show an enthusiasm that is unrivalled by any other league. The Bundesliga has one of the lowest ticket prices and they have limited number of season tickets so that everyone gets equal opportunity to watch the game. 14 million viewers watch football weekly and that is more than any other country in Europe. In 2010-11, the average attendance per game was a mind wobbling 42,673. Only NFL (USA) has registered more attendance in a single season. No other league in Europe is able to attract so many spectators.

Dortmund Yellow Wall

Dortmund’s Yellow Wall [Photo: thedugout.net]

Borussia Dortmund has the biggest stand in the world. The Yellow Wall holds 26,000, and the average ticket price is €15 (£13) because they know how valuable such a fan base is. As per last seasons stats – Bundesliga attracted 41000 fans per game. England comes second with 35,000 fans per game followed by La Liga with 28000 and Serie A with 27000.

In Bundesliga, there also exists a rule known as the 50+1 rule, meaning that members of the club must retain at least 51% of the ownership. There are exceptions to the rule, such as a company that has been supporting the club for more than 20 years may acquire the majority.

Fall of the Serie A

Back in the 80s and 90s the Serie A was the benchmark for all leagues to follow. Italy, in those days, was the dream destination, their teams were the cream of the world, AC Milan had the best of the best on their rosters, Van Basten alongside Rikjaard, and Juventus in that era had Platini and Zidane while Maradona, the great legend, plied his trade at Napoli. Those teams set the standards for others to follow. Some people don’t give Italian football the credit it deserves, especially during its glory days. From 1989 to 1998, in every season except one, an Italian club was involved in the final of the Champions League. To imagine such an accomplishment in the competition nowadays is almost unthinkable.

But the things changed slowly at the turn of the millennium as many Italian league stars left for greener pastures with Zidane and Ronaldo leading the exodus. England was gaining more importance and Spain, with the big money attracted more stars. Things were bad for Italy and it got worse when they were hit by Calciopoli in 2006. It shook the foundation of Italian football. Juventus was relegated, AC Milan decimated with a 8 point deduction that consigned them to the lower reaches of the Serie A. This hurt the European standings of the two Italian giants.

Things got even worse in 2009/10 when the government implemented a scheme called the tessera del tifoso. Fans need a card to purchase Serie A tickets, which identifies the specific club that they support as well as their personal details. This was introduced in order to counter the level of hooligan violence during games, and was made compulsory during the 2010/2011 season, despite not yet being approved by Parliament. The scheme has garnered widespread criticism amongst Italian supporters upon its introduction and in the years since,  it seems that the tessera has in fact done more harm to attendances than good and the primary problem of hooligan violence still prevails.

The statistics speaks for itself. Serie A’s debt has shot up to €2.6 billion, an increase of 14% on last year; the net loss for the whole of Italian professional football is €428 million, a deficit which has risen by €80 million (+23.2%). Only 19 clubs out of 107 report a profit. The total value of Italian football last season dropped by 1.2%.

Brovedani Udinese lone fan

Brovedani was the lone travelling Udinese fan for a Serie A game recently [Photo: taringa.net]

Serie A currently attracts an average crowd of around 25000, with 48.1% of stadium capacity being filled. In comparison, the Bundesliga attracts 42,257 (86.1%) and the Premier League 35,753 (94.6%). Italian fans are just not turning out for their clubs, and the figure is also in decline (with a 7.8% drop this year in attendance). This was evident when Arrigo Brovedani took the 500km trip to watch his beloved Udinese play Sampdoria in Italy’s Serie A, he surely had no idea that he would make headlines across the footballing world. Arrigo Brovedani was the sole Udinese supporter at the game.

Broadcasting Rights

The continuing growth of pay-television across Europe is helping to drive up the earnings of clubs in Europe’s top football leagues, despite the recession.

According to research on the top five European leagues, the total value of domestic media rights for the five leagues has risen by just under 23% in the latest round of deals, from €3.397 billion per season to €4.166 billion per season.

Italy’s Serie A is the second biggest earner from domestic media rights after England’s Premier League who enjoyed a 64.6% increase for the upcoming 13-14 season, and onto 2016. Given the decline of Serie A in recent years compared to the 80s and 90s, when Italian clubs paraded the best players in the world, the league’s financial standing is quite impressive.

Lega Serie A President Maurizio Beretta stated that for the 2012-13 season, the league will get approximately €840 million in TV rights revenues. And will follow the same distribution model as in 2011/12. But the payments to the three relegated teams will be increased, which will now receive €30 million –compared to the €7.5 to €22 million they got previously. For the next two seasons (2013/14 and 2014/15), the amount is expected to increase by €17 million and €24 million respectively, with this additional revenue to be redistributed among the top 10-ranked teams exclusively. The bulk of that value comes from live pay-television rights, with Sky Italia and Mediaset Premium the league’s major pay masters.

The Bundesliga struck a new deal on TV rights for German league matches last season. The league will now rake in €2.5 billion ($3.14 billion) over the next four years, which equates to €625 million per season. Pay-TV channel Sky Germany will pay the lion’s share, receiving most of the broadcast rights in return.

Domestic income for Germany’s 1.Bundesliga rose 52.5%. It was the second-biggest hike among the top five after the Premier League.

Sustaining the same income levels in the next cycle will present the Italian league with a massive challenge.

Serie A has regularly had more clubs capable of winning the Champions League as opposed to the Bundesliga. And the past years results are a proof of that but the present is with the Germans and if things don’t change that gap might widen.

Brovedani (the lone Udinese fan) depicted his endless love and support for the club regardless of circumstance, but it prints a very poor picture of Serie A and how far it seems to have fallen. If not controlled, it may lead to the league becoming a shadow of its former glory days.

In all honesty, I don’t think it’s as horrible as it seems. With the financial fair play things can change. Italian football has the players, it has the history, it has the flair, it has the clubs, it has the fans, it has the passion, it has the rivalries…it has got it all. With a few corrective measures, with guidance it can rise again and I am sure it will.

Credit should be given to the Germans for their immaculate planning and countries around the World should follow their economic model in order to survive.

This battle has just begun and it’s going to get more interesting and football fans around the world are in for a feast as these two European giants battle it out.

Which league is better? I am not sure but due to this healthy competition, Football has surely become more interesting.

We had previously published a piece- “Calculating and Comparing Competitiveness in European League” which featured on A Football Report’s List of Best of Football Writing in 2012. This piece too can feature there, no?

We also previously featured an article comparing the Spanish La Liga vs the Premier League. Give it a read.

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