We continue our Interviews with football personalities this week as the Chief Editor of the award winning website bundesligafanatic.com, Cristian Nyari, answers some of our questions on the Bundesliga and German football in general. Besides his work on Bundesliga Fanatic (which recently won the European Blogging Award for the ‘Best Niche’ website), he also devotes his time as a reporter/writer for Goal.com’s International version and as an Opta Analyst. Recently he even wrote his first piece for the New York Times Soccer Blog ‘Goal’. You can follow Cristian on twitter
@Cnyari and his terrific website @Bundesliga4u.
Dortmund have won the last two Bundesliga titles, while Bayern have always been challenging, including running away with the title this season. Do you think the Bundesliga will continue to face a period of domination from these two?
Most probably, yes. But that shouldn’t necessarily be interpreted as a lack of competitiveness or a duopoly ala Spain. There is a hierarchy of power/success/influence in every major league or in sports for that matter and the same is true with Germany. You just have to look at the rest of the table and how close things are in the race for the final Champions League and other European spots. 6-7 teams can realistically qualify for Europe at this stage of the season and it’s like this every year. And it’s also good for the league as a whole for two or three clubs to consistently play in and do well in Europe so in that sense Dortmund and Bayern’s “dominance” will benefit German football.
Speaking of Bayern and domination, the current side have broken tons of records and are largely regarded as the strongest team in Europe at the moment. Is this title-winning side the best Bundesliga team of all time?
You can definitely make an argument for it although I would probably lean more towards “best individual season” as opposed to best team of all time. They still have a few years to go to match the great Bayern of the 1970’s who were successful domestically and internationally and consistently so. If Bayern can keep this level up in the next two years though they have a legitimate claim to that.
Schalke, Leverkusen, Werder Bremen are all teams that have been solid in the Bundesliga, threatening to challenge for the title and/or doing well in European competition, which team other than Dortmund and Bayern can you see winning the title in the near future, or indeed, mounting a serious challenge?
It’s hard to say because Bayern and Dortmund are a couple of levels ahead of the other but you never know. Stuttgart and Wolfsburg won unexpectedly without necessarily having better squads than some teams around them.
Football comes and goes in cycles and Bayern and Dortmund will weaken at one point or another but in the foreseeable future I can’t see any team in the league beat them to the title. Again, that’s not an indictment on the quality of the league because Bayern and Dortmund are no longer just German powers but two of the 5 best teams in Europe at the moment in my opinion.
There have been a couple of inconsistent champions as you’ve mentioned, Wolfsburg and Stuttgart, who have won the title but finished poorly in their defense season, why do you suppose that is?
Lack of money, foresight, management. It’s always a combination of several factors. Stuttgart slowly started losing some of their key players of that season like Pardo, Meira, Hitzlsperger and even Veh while their big money transfers didn’t pan out (Schäfer, Gebhart, Marica).
Wolfsburg were similar. They lost their three best players very soon after they won the league. Quality was concentrated, for Stuttgart anyways, and not easily replaceable when you have a tight budget and trying to break even. Wolfsburg had the budget but made poor managerial decisions. It’s really a matter of having a vision and long term plan and that has sometimes been lacking in the league for some teams but I believe it is something that is also gradually improving throughout.
We at OOTB regularly publish comprehensive Scout Reports on young talented footballers, who according to you (besides the obvious choices) is worth looking at?
I think Max Meyer at Schalke is a player to keep an eye on next season. He got his debut this year and he’ll get much more playing time next season. I am also looking forward to seeing more of Saed Kolasinac at Schalke and Antonio Rüdiger at Stuttgart.
It has been a promising season for the Bundesliga this season in the Champions League, and the rest of Europe is finally taking notice. Do you think the league has the capabilities of becoming the best league in Europe and staying there?
I think it’s already close and in some aspects it is already the best. But football fluctuates and and leagues/teams are always on the rise and decline. What is in the Bundesliga’s favor is its responsible financial and business models which will help it through the several financial regulations that will appear throughout Europe in the coming years. That alone will keep the league competitive in Europe. Along with its great youth development, which I think is the best in Europe at the moment.
Bayern Munich appointing Pep Guardiola is a win for the entire league. He will definitely aim to attract the best players into Germany. But where does the rest of the league stand, in your opinion, in its ability to compete in the transfer market?
I think the Bundesliga will always have to accept that its success will come internally rather than spending. Hence the emphasis on youth development and the academy system. I also think it’s the best choice in the current climate. Guardiola will offer a lot to the league in terms of creating a competitive atmosphere and new ideas but I don’t think that means the discrepancy between Bayern and the rest will have a negative effect on the league’s quality.
Germany also boasts one of the most exciting national teams, and prides itself on this. What according to you is more detrimental to the league- German players being tempted by offers abroad, or foreigners joining the domestic league?
Neither to be honest. I think it benefits German players to challenge themselves and go play in the best leagues. Özil and Khedira have grown tremendously in their time with Madrid and so would any of the young players coming up in the league right now.
And foreign players coming into the league would never threaten it in any way. The influx of Japanese players has actually made it better. It’s about quality control and maintaining your principles and a vision. German clubs continue to invest in their youth and in their scouting and the right balance there is the key to long term success.
A bit premature, but given the quality of the nation team, and past performances, what are the chances of Germany winning the World Cup? And who would you identify as the key personnel to do so?
I think the chances are as good as any. I think Spain will still be favorites with Brazil and Argentina, but Germany are right up there and always improving because of the constant integration of young talent. Brazil 2014 may come a bit too soon but with most national teams in transition it should be one of the most competitive competitions in a long time in my opinion.
Löw needs to continue to find the right balance between attack and defense, that has been a major shortcoming of the team in the last couple of years which is continually exploited. If he can do that Germany can go all the way next year.
Even though German teams are doing well now, and historically, there have been some legendary teams & players to come through, Bundesliga sides don’t garner the same attention and interest globally as compared to English & Spanish sides. What can be done to improve this?
It’s all about exposure and success. Winning is a simple way to get that and Germany have come close in the last two decades but never matched their peak or past success whereas other leagues have, at least at club level, been successful consistently in the last decade or two. The other leagues have the advantage of lucrative TV deals and marketing deals outside Europe whereas the Bundesliga is still catching up.
Bayern and Dortmund performing well in the Champions League and the continuing improvement of the national team should help that though because the tide in football seems to continue to tilt Germany’s way and networks outside Europe will pick up on that gradually.
Bundesligafanatic.com is one of the most respected Bundesliga sites around right now. What advice would you give to any blogger who is willing to popularise their site further.
Well, thank you for the kind words first of all. I really appreciate that. We’re grateful to have built such an extensive reach and audience in the last couple of years, it speaks of the quality of the subject and our contributors.
As for advice, I think the most important thing in writing or pursuing a passion is to stay true to oneself and why you got into it in the first place. If you lose sight of that it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose perspective. Hard work is of course a big part of it. To improve in anything, you have to continue working at it. In writing, reading as much as you can helps a great deal and in the world of online media it’s all about synergy and communication. Interact with your audience and build relationships with them and your peers and you will get the recognition you deserve.