Bayern Munich Break Europe’s Longest Title-Winning Streak

Bayern title
Photo Credit: AP

Bayern secured their 10th consecutive Bundesliga title in 2021-22. No team has matched that feat in Europe’s top leagues, with Juventus’ recent run of nine being the closest anyone has come.

Latvia and Gibraltar have seen teams reach the teens, but this period of dominance in one of the world’s strongest football nations is truly unprecedented.

A monopoly in sport is seldom a positive. Sure, Bayern have been phenomenal at points in this run. Sure, they are not unbeatable, and their run has partly been possible because of the failings of the teams around them.

There are also severe structural advantages enabling Bayern to put together a streak of 10 Bundesliga titles – this has to provoke questions about the league’s competitiveness, and what can be done going forward.

Slumping at the end of this season made it seem closer than it really was. Bayern have won the league by 10 or more points in eight of 10 campaigns.

Five Premier League clubs have won a title over the last decade. That figure is three in Spain and France. Following the end of Juventus’ dynastic run, Serie A enjoyed a proper title race and looks wide open heading into 2022-23.

Bayern have 32 German titles, 31 coming since the Bundesliga was founded. No other team has more than nine. The Bavarian team being the strongest in Germany is nothing new, but this concentration of silverware is a warning sign.

It comes at a time when television revenue is providing a greater share of income for clubs. Bayern, like Real Madrid and Barcelona, receive a larger portion of that money than their domestic rivals.

Their earnings are boosted still by consistent participation in the latter rounds of the Champions League. It is a snowball effect, with the club getting greater exposure and in turn, receiving even more wealth through sponsorship deals.

It is not just reputation that allows Bayern to snipe elite talent from its supposed rivals – they can offer more money and promise silverware. Last summer’s raiding of RB Leipzig was just the most recent example.

Even Bayern icon Phillip Lahm recognises this monopoly is a problem.

“It’s not good, no question. It’s also not so good for Bayern that that they are champions again so early. It can happen that they win it again, but it has to be closer, that the Bundesliga remains exciting to the last and is not always decided four games before the end.”

Jurgen Klinsmann echoed those worries, citing how Bayern have been able to hoover up the best players from around Germany.

“That’s something that they earned over the last 20 or 30 years, that kind of sentiment, that kind of a privilege. That’s why it is so difficult for the other clubs to catch up with them. We wish that we have a bit more drama up there.”

Lifting trophies is always going to be fun for those involved. Those at Bayern must wonder where this is heading, though.

It’s been suggested that PSG’s Champions League struggles are partly down to a lack of domestic competitiveness. Does a similar fate away Die Roten?

Does winning at such a canter have the same thrill? Will Bayern’s players soon start to depart for greater competition in Spain, Italy or England?

Sport thrives on unpredictability. Trying to topple dynasties like Steph Curry’s Warriors, Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United or Tom Brady’s Patriots has an appeal, but there is not even peril for Bayern in most of these seasons.

They are lifting the Meisterschale with weeks to spare, rarely facing the pressure of a team within striking distance in the second half of the campaign.

Where Leipzig lost their manager and two key players to the Allianz Arena and Borussia Dortmund are in a constant cycle of replacing their stars, Bayern have supplemented their Bundesliga acquisitions with impactful signings from elsewhere like Leroy Sane, Corentin Tolisso and Kingsley Coman. The rich are only getting richer.

Even with Robert Lewandowski’s future up in the air, there is no sense that this reign of Bayern supremacy is coming to an end. They have already cruised through the end of Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger’s careers.

Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery aged and departed. Pep Guardiola came and went.

Bayern deserve plaudits for being able to transition between eras so effectively, but the fact there has been so few legitimate title races has to be a severe worry for the health of German football.

The Bundesliga has boatloads of talent. The football is often entertaining. Still, it is lacking as a product without real competition at the top. It cannot be as marketable as Serie A or La Liga around the world if Bayern are far ahead of the rest.

A playoff structure similar to the NFL or NBA has been mooted, though that’s unlikely to have sufficient support. Allowing more significant investment into clubs could help to level the playing field, but it risks undermining the very fabric of German football and fan ownership.

The gap between Bayern and the rest is growing, and will continue to do so unless something drastic happens or Bayern begin to trip themselves up.

Bayern’s +1.5 expected goal difference per 90 was 0.86 better than anyone else. That is the same gap as it was between second and 13th by that metric.

For now, they are a winning machine. Scavenging their foes and making generally smart signings, Die Roten are capitalising on their advantages.

As long as they maintain that pattern, it will take something truly special for Leipzig, Dortmund or anyone else to put up a season-long challenge for the crown.

There are some fundamental questions to be posed about where the Bundesliga is heading.