The Most Underrated League in the World      What makes soccer entertaining to watch?  A fast pace?  Goals perhaps? Passionate fans creating incredible atmospheres to support their team?  Top players at the top of their game just dominating their opposition?  Brave defending and the ability to spring an attacking counter at any moment?  Well if the answer to any of those questions is yes, then you just might want to forget about England and Spain for a weekend and tune your attention to Germany.  Here are some reasons why this league should be given some more attention, and why it should be recognized as one of the best in the world.  

    First off, if you hate the Italian League like I do, for its slow paced games then you will love the contrast the Bundesliga provides.  Quick counters, pacey runs, and direct styles of play thrive in German league, not lackluster buildups with no immagination that allow players far past their prime to still do well in the league (talking to you Andrea Pirlo).  No, the German's are cutthroat, as you saw in the World Cup, they will go right at you, and pin the ears back as they go forward with no fear.  It's a striker friendly league where speed kills and a fast winger is worth more than an Aquafina in the Sahara.  If you're a defender, you better be good at what you do to survive here, as some of the top attackers in the world will make your day job tough.  Players like Arjen Robben, Frank Ribery, Marko Marin, Edin Dzeko, Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, Lucas Barrios, Kuba (I won't even try to spell his real name), Raul, and many more are here to provide the fans with what they crave, high intensity, hard working, attacking football.  Goals are plentiful and I know that's the way I love my footie, and I'm sure that appeals to many of you too.  This attacking style is one reason why the Bundesliga is worth a look.

    I rant and rave about the attackers, because yes they are good, but that doesn't mean the defenders are slouches either.  The examples of top quality defenders are just as plentiful as the attackers, they just don't have as big of names because let's be honest, goalscorers get the headlines, not the guys playing their hearts out to prevent them.  Players like Holger Badstuber, Simon Kjaer, Neven Subotic (A Yank {traitor}), Phillip Lahm, Per Mertesacker and many more spring to mind, and while these may not be household names to many readers, believe me, they're good at what they do, and they're young too.  Phillip Lahm is probably the most recognizable, because of his exploits with the German National team.  He is the little engine that could, chugging up and down the sideline for 90+ minutes every single game, always popping up when you need him, and being one of the most consistently solid players in the world.  His crossing ability and knack for chipping in a goal or two also make him multi dimensional, and a fan favorite.  He is what the German league is, a hard working player, who loves to get forward, and do what it takes to win.  The last line of defense isn't bad either, the keepers.  With shot stoppers like Hans Jorg Butt, Manuel Neur, and Rene Adler this league hosts some of the best men between the posts that money can buy.  The defense is good, and has to be, to compete with the world class attacking talent in the league.  

        The next reason the Bundesliga is incredible, is the way it is set up.  Teams are actualy financially accountable, and the lack of Chelsea and Man City money creates more parity throughout the league, which puts a better end product on the field.  The Spanish League has 2 teams that compete for the title every year (Barcelona and Real Madrid) and the English League has 3-4, but the German League has about 6-7 teams who could compete for a title in any given year.  Look at this year for example, Borrusia Dortmund (fielding a starting 11 where 9 of the 11 players are under the age of 23) have come out of nowhere to lead the league by a wide margin of double digit points.  That simply doesn't happen in Spain or England.  The fact that teams don't rack up tons of debt, and aren't allowed to overspend, provides for a more interesting title race each season, one in which anyone can win.  

    The final reason ithis league is great is the young talent it produces.  Look at the German World Cup team this past year.  Not anyone's favorite to win the tournament, they came awfully close, only being ousted by eventual champions Spain.  They caught Argentina by surprise as well, completely outclassing them attacking wise.  That is saying something too, when the Argentine team is the one that contains renowned superstars like Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, and Carlos Tevez.  Instead of them putting 4 goals in the net, it was the team of Thomas Muller (unknown internationally before the tournament), Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, Mezut Ozil, and Bastian Schweinsteigger who put on the offensive clinic.  Now Argentina clearly has the "bigger names" but for what reason?  You could make the argument that outside of Messi, the German's are just as talented as their South American counterparts, and even better tactically.  That is what you get with the Bundesliga, individual talent combined with a propensity to work hard and get results.  Like Hannah Montana says, in the Bundesliga, you really do get the best of both worlds.  

        So I recommend to you, to watch a game this weekend, this month, or this year, and give this undervalued league a chance.  It just might surprise you.  www.espn3.com hosts a bunch of German games, and the top ones will be highlighted via twitter @TheSetPiece . 

By
Stephen Flanagan
@sflanagan17 on Twitter.
 
First Post! 12/22/2010
 
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