Bayern München: The Best Club in the World

With the three teams following FC Bayern München in the standings all dropping points Tuesday, Bayern München, with their 2-0 win at Freiburg Wednesday clinched the Bundesliga herbstmeister (winter championship) with three league matches remaining before winter break — the earliest that the winter title has been sewn up in league history. The Bavarians carry a 12-1-1 domestic record into Saturday’s much-anticipated match with holders Borussia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena, and are ten points clear of the Bundesliga’s current second place club, Bayer Leverkusen. Bayern also have scored an astounding 40 goals while allowing only five, a +35 goal differential that is 2.5 times better than the Bundesliga club with the next best differential, Borussia Dortmund, with a +14. All of which are among the reasons that, as of this moment, Bayern München are the best footballing club in the world.

Domestic League Performance 2012/2013

The facts… no European club besides Bayern have a domestic league lead right now of more than three points, meaning that every other domestic leader could be overcome in a match or two. Manchester City lead the red side of Manchester by a point for the EPL lead, Barca top a surprising Atletico Madrid side by three points in Spain, while the leaders in Ligue 1 (Lyon), Serie A (Juventus), and the Eredivisie (PSV Eindhoven) carry narrow two point leads over the next best club in their leagues, while the Portuguese league lead is shared by Porto and Benfica. Of all those teams, only PSV (+36 ) have a goal differential superior to Bayern, with Barca having the next best GD, at + 28.

European Performance 2012/2013

Bayern has fashioned a 3-1-1 record in group play, not spectacular, but enough to advance them to the Round of 16. Of the 31 other teams in Champions League group play, only four (Porto, Schalke, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Malaga) are undefeated after five group matches, but Malaga has drawn once while three have drawn twice apiece and Juventus has drawn three times in five CL matches. Of all the clubs currently in the tournament who have won the CL title since Bayern last won it in 2001, only Porto is undefeated in this year’s competition. Only six of the 32 teams in the CL group stages have a better goal differential than the Bavarians.  And let’s not forget that Bayern made it to the CL finals in two of the last three years.

Bayern are already assured advancement in the Champions League with a game remaining, while PSV, the only European club with a superior goal differential, are tied for last in their Europa League group , having lost three of five EL group matches this year.

FIFA Club Coefficients, National Team Rankngs and Strength of Domestic Leagues

The latest available FIFA Club Coefficients have Bayern rated only behind Barcelona.  The club coefficient rankings are based on the results of clubs competing in the five previous seasons of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. The rankings determine the seeding of each club in all UEFA competition draws.  Here is the table of the current top ten teams.

08/09 09/10 10/11 11/12 12/13 Pts
1FC BarcelonaFC Barcelona ESP 28.662 30.585 36.642 34.171 13.914 143.976
2FC Bayern MünchenFC Bayern München GER 22.537 30.616 24.133 33.050 12.957 123.294
3Manchester United FCManchester United FC ENG 28.000 28.585 36.671 16.050 13.771 123.078
4Real Madrid CFReal Madrid CF ESP 14.662 22.585 33.642 36.171 11.914 118.976
5Chelsea FCChelsea FC ENG 25.000 22.585 26.671 33.050 10.771 118.078
6Arsenal FCArsenal FC ENG 22.000 25.585 22.671 22.050 12.771 105.078
7FC Internazionale MilanoFC Internazionale Milano ITA 13.275 34.085 21.314 20.271 8.650 97.596
8FC PortoFC Porto POR 17.357 21.000 31.760 12.366 14.416 96.900
9Club Atlético de MadridClub Atlético de Madrid ESP 17.662 24.585 9.642 34.171 9.914 95.976
10Valencia CFValencia CF ESP 13.662 19.585 21.642 25.171 12.914 92.976

In the most current national team rankings, Germany is second only to Spain — relevant because so Bayern players (Neuer, Muller, Schweinsteiger, Boateng, Kroos, Lahm, Gomez) form the core of the German national side, just as Barcelona players form the nucleus of the Spanish national side.  (For Spain’s most recently friendly against Panama, eight Barca players were part of the 19 man roster that did not include such stalwarts Spanish internationals from Barcelona as Carlos Puyol, Xavi Hernandez and Gerard Pique).

The relative quality of leagues can be argued (of course so can the national team rankings), but one recent ranking of Europe’s domestic leagues has the Bundesliga third behind the EPL and La Liga.  Many readers of the Bundesliga Fanatic would rank the Bundesliga first, but even if one agrees that the EPL and La Liga are superior, certainly the Bundesliga is doing very well currently in European competition.  Of the seven Bundesliga teams competing in Europe, six have already qualified for advance with a game remaining, while the seventh club, Stuttgart, are in good position to advance in the Europa League depending on the results of the last group games.  Bayern have played four of the Bundesliga European teams thus far this season in league play, losing for the first time since 1997 at home to Bayer Leverkusen by a goal while defeating Schalke, Stuttgart and Hannover by an aggregate score of 13-1.

Other Factors

What other factors should we consider? Finances Bayern have finished fourth in revenues earned in the last two available Deloitte Money League club rankings, each time finishing behind Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United. Club history  Bayern have won four Champions League competitions, been the runner-up five times and have won 22 German championships and 15 Pokal titles.  Management Pedigree Coach Jupp Heynkes was a four-time Bundesliga champion as a player and coached Bayern to two league titles as well as leading Real Madrid to the 1997-1998 Champions League trophy. Club President Uli Hoeneß was a Bundesliga champion, a Euro champion and a World Cup champion as a player, while Sporting Director Matthias Sammer, who joined the club this summer, won three league titles, along with a Champions League title and was part of a Euro championship squad as a player while winning a Bundesliga title as coach of Borussia Dortmund.  Roster Strength Bayern feature a deep squad of veterans experienced at both the European and international levels, with only striker Claudio Pizarro over 30 years old, while such integral players as Holger Badstuber, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and David Alaba all 23 years old or younger.  Relative strength of squad is, again, a subjective matter, but one can make a legitimate argument that Bayern’s 2012/2013 roster is as good or better than that of any of club.

In the end, Bayern München are the only club among the top leagues guaranteed to be hold first place in their domestic league on January 1.  Bayern started the 2012/2013 with a Bundesliga-record eight opening victories and now have clinched first place before the winter break earlier than any other club in Bundesliga history.  The huge goal differential they’ve accrued in league play, their advance into the knockout rounds of the Champions League, along with their tradition of success, quality of management team, financial strength and roster depth add up to the opinion that, at this moment, Bayern München are the best football club in the world.

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Gerry Wittmann

Gerry is the founder of the Bundesliga Fanatic. Besides loving German football, he also enjoys the NBA, collecting jerseys and LPs, his pets and wishes he had more time for fishing, bicycling and learning the bass guitar.

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