Friday, December 7, 2012


photo by Peter Fuchsvia PhotoRee

Ed loves all things German:

And so the Champions League Group Stage is finally over, and neither Chelsea nor Manchester City have made the cut.  United won their group – an easy one -- and Arsenal somehow managed to get by as well.   City was in a difficult group, but after watching Real Madrid wax Ajax, you’ve got to wonder how they couldn’t even manage third in that Group. 

I suspect City’s problems are a combination of a lack of speed on the edges, a decline in the play of the back four (particularly Vincent Kompany) and the lack of leadership.  Yeah, I’m coming at you, Roberto Mancini.  I think Mancini has lost the focus of the players.  Rumors of his leaving and his style make City feel like hired mercenaries rather than a club.  Distress and distractions abound at every club, but emotional leadership is also important – and by that I mean getting the players to play together and with enthusiasm. 

As for Chelsea, who knew they would be this bad?  Clearly they lack a striker – a huge problem, actually -- but they’ve got enough playmakers to score regardless. Some have suggested that Frank Lampard and John Terry are critical leaders for that team.  This may be true, but it’s not enough of an explanation.

So where does this put the BPL in comparison with the other leagues?  Well, despite the money in the league, and despite the league being fairly tough from top to bottom, I actually rank them third in Europe right now.  First is the Bundesliga, and I’m not just saying that because I like to say “Bundesliga”, which I do. 

Bundesliga.  Bundesliga.  BUNDESLIGA!!! 

The German league earns my top spot because of teams like Dortmund, currently third in the league, just beat City and Real Madrid in the group stages.  And frankly they looked good doing it.  This is a team that lost Shinji Kagawa to United and doesn’t feature any top names except perhaps for Lewandowski.  However, even with their second team in they played creative yet disciplined football.  Impressive. 

Second, I put La Liga, largely because Barcelona and Real Madrid are both better than the top four in the BPL right now, but also because the mid-table teams ain’t so bad either.  United is winning the league and may very well win the league, but they just don’t seem to be at he level of former league winners, and they certainly seem distant from these two teams.  Arsenal?  Well, they just seem pretty bad these days.

So will the BPL make it back to the top?  I think it has to; the money in the league still dominates the others, and ultimately that will dictate in most years.  But this year’s different, and because of it we see teams like West Brom and Spurs currently near the top.  Can an outsider hold on to a top spot?  Well, I wouldn’t have thought so, but if the Champions League is any guide, who knows?

This is farlieonfootie for December 7.

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