The phrase ‘German Efficiency’ has been branded around in relation to everything from cars, to public transport, to industrial productivity and many believe German football to be no anomaly to this theory.
The mental image conjured up when many are prompted to think of the German game, is one of ruthlessly disciplined teams who are almost always in the reckoning in the latter stages of football major competitions.
However in recent years German football has taken giant strides in freeing itself of the shackles of such stereotypes and the Bundesliga is widely regarded as being the entertaining and fan-friendly league in the world.
A quick glance at the UEFA Coefficient rankings shows that the Bundesliga has now jumped above Serie A in the table and sits in third behind The Premier League and La Liga, now also enjoying four Champions League places each season.
But what is it that makes The Bundesliga so entertaining and ensures that fans flock to games like nowhere else in Europe?
Firstly, the 50+1 rule is believed by many to be the cornerstone to much of the success of The Bundesliga.
The rule states that every German club must be majority owned by their fans (51%), preventing controlling takeovers and the subsequent huge financial investment from oligarchs as we have seen at various clubs across Europe over previous seasons.
This rule serves to create a more level playing field and the implication of the rule is evidently paying dividends. In the past eight seasons The Bundesliga has seen five different clubs name as title winners. Bayern Munich four times, with Werder Bremen, VFB Stuttgart, Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund all also having been crowned as champions.
The 50+1 rule could be a decisive factor as to why German clubs have struggled to compete in Europe over recent seasons. With investment potential limited, many clubs have struggled in recent seasons to compete on the field with the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona who have far greater sums of money at their disposal.
Despite only Bayern having enjoyed success in Europe over recent years (their 2010 run to the final), the domestic game has never failed to provide entertainment and surprises.
This uncertainty makes for exciting times for German fans, as the majority of supporters believe that their team can spring a surprise or two over the course of the season. Last time out traditional heavyweights Werder Bremen, Wolfsburg and Schalke all finished in the bottom half, whilst unfancied Hannover, Mainz and Nuremberg all occupied the top third come the end of the season.
As a result of this German fans have packed the stands like no others. Numerous English journalists have so far commented on the unique and deafening atmosphere prevalent in German stadiums, after Arsenal’s visit to Dortmund’s huge Signal Iduna Park and Manchester City’s defeat at Bayern’s Allianz Arena.
Last season The Bundesliga average attendance was over the 42,000 mark and throw into the mix newly-promoted Hertha Berlin’s giant Olympiastadion and the figure looks set to rise once more.
German authorities have overseen the introduction of ‘safe terracing’ and this could well be a contributing factor to the excellent atmosphere available to sample on match-days.
Champions Borussia Dortmund boast the world’s largest standing terrace which regularly sees 25,000 loyal fans fill the terrace and create an incredible wall of noise.
A place on this terrace costs just 15Euros with the majority of other clubs also having equally cheap tickets.
Bargain tickets coupled with the permitted consumption of beer on the terraces make for what is heralded as the best fans experience currently available anywhere in the footballing world.
However it isn’t just cheap tickets, great atmosphere and a level playing field that help make the Bundesliga the game’s most watched league, another currency is equally important, goals.
Remarkably over the past 21 seasons The Bundesliga has seen the most goals out of Europe’s big five leagues. Consistently more goals fly in in Germany than in England, France, Italy and Spain. Last season The Bundesliga saw on average 2.92 goals a game, eclipsing The Premier League in second with 2.80.
Throughout the season spectators were only forced to suffer 28 goalless draws, also the lowest of any of the big five.
The German national team, known affectionately as The Nationalmannschaft, have also reaped the benefits of the recent Bundesliga Boom.
Both of the last two editions of the FIFA World Cup have seen Germany finish third and instead of playing efficient rather than eye-catching football, the teams of 2006 and 2010 played with swagger, style and substance.
The 2006 side won the hearts of the host nation as Klinsmann’s men stormed into the semi-finals before being eliminated by eventual winners Italy in extra time.
The 2010 team arguably left even more of a legacy only being outdone by again the eventual winners Spain.
Joachim Low’s side featured young starlets such as Mesut Ozil, Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller all of whom featured 12 months previously in the Under 21 European Championships and made the successful transition from promising youngsters to global superstars.
Arguably if these players plied their trades in The Premier League it is unlikely that they would have been able to establish themselves on the world stage quite so quickly.
The 50+1 rule has helped ensure German clubs invest more in youth development and giving talented players a chance in the first-team, all this whilst many English talents have grown frustrated at the lack of first-team opportunities in expensively assembled squads and found themselves farmed out on loan to lesser clubs in order to prove themselves.
The latest off The Bundesliga conveyor belt is exciting playmaker Mario Gotze of Dortmund, who has already established himself in his club side as well as the national team and has been tipped by many experts as a potential world-beater, all this at the age of 19.
With reigning champions Borussia Dortmund currently languishing in 8th place in the league and Hamburg at the foot of the table, The Bundesliga boom isn’t set to go away anytime soon.