The dominance of Bundesliga and major European league winners

With two Bundesliga clubs contesting the 2013 Champions League final, we look at the performance of recent winners of the major European leagues. Overall, the analysis shows Germany’s champions have become steadily more forceful in their domestic league and, this year, have reached a level of dominance only usually seen in the Spanish league.

We’ve looked at key indicators of performance and found:

  • League winners have become more dominant in the Bundesliga – Bayern won 89% of points in 2013 which has risen steadily from the 68% Wolfsburg won in 2009
  • Still, the winners of the Spanish league have been the most dominant in terms of the points they win over the past 5 years – with Barca and Madrid winning 84% of points available
  • England and Germanys’ league winners have won 76% of points over the same period – and along with Italy have seen three different winners, compared to Spain’s two
  • Ligue1 fans have the least predictable championship – with 5 different winners of the French league in the past 5 years, and the winners collecting an average of just 70% of the points available

Having dominant winners is not usually a recipe for an appealing domestic league. In our 2008 analysis, the Bundesliga was the closest major European league but, at least at the top of the league, this competitiveness seems to have deteriorated. This poses at least two important questions for the stability of European club football – first, whether having a close, challenging domestic league is consistent with European success and second, whether the income from the Champions league is actually harming domestic league competitiveness.

Spanish league winners take greatest share of domestic points

Real Madrid and Barcelona have won 84% of the points available to them over the past 5 years – some 8 percentage points ahead of their rivals in Germany and England.

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*Italy, France and Spain use 20 May figure for 2013

At the other end of the scale, France’s league winners have won just 70% of the points available – highlighting a less dominant position.

French fans enjoy a wide variety of league winners

The below table simply shows the number of different league winners in the past five years. The dominance of Real and Barca in Spain is clear – and the increased likelihood of Champions League football provides a stable backdrop to investments in players and facilities to enable a concerted challenge at European level.

Table 1 – Variety in Domestic League Winners by Country

League Number of different league winners (2009-13) Winning Clubs
Spain 2 Barcelona (4), Real Madrid
England 3 Man Utd (3), Man City, Chelsea
Germany 3 Bayern (2), Dortmund (2), Wolfsburg
Italy 3 Juve (3), Inter (2), AC Milan
France 5 PSG, Montpellier, Lille, Marseille, Bordeaux

German winners showing greater dominance

With an all-German final in the Champion’s league we’ve focussed in on winners of the Bundesliga in recent years. There’s a clear trend towards greater dominance both in the percentage of points won, but also in the winning margins starting at 2 points in 2009 and rising to 5, 7, 8 and, this year, Bayern’s amazing 25.

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This trend has taken Germany’s winners from winning the lowest proportion of points amongst the major European leagues, to winning the greatest number and brought them above the 85% mark which only Spanish teams have attained in recent years.

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*Italy, France and Spain use 20 May figure for 2013

Conclusions and further questions for analysis

The Bundesliga was the most competitive major European league in our 2008 analysis. This appears to have deteriorated, at least at the top of the league, so this poses at least two questions – first, whether having a close, challenging domestic league is consistent with European success and second, whether the income from the Champions league is actually harming domestic league competitiveness.

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