Bayern Munich thrashed surprise Bundesliga leaders SC Paderborn 4-0 at the Allianz arena on Tuesday night.
Munich’s stuttering start to the new season was swept away by a brace from German World Cup hero Mario Gotze and a goal each for Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller.
Paderborn had moved top in their flagship season in the Bundesliga with a win over Hannover at the weekend which was capped by midfielder Moritz Stoppelkamp’s incredible 83-metre stoppage time lob.
But they were brought back down to Earth with a bump by the defending Bundesliga champions, who now replace them in pole position.
There is no doubt that Bayern are the flagship side of the Bundesliga. They are by far the most famous, and they are also the richest, rivalling the biggest clubs in the world in stature.
However, for all their grandeur, it would be best for the league if anyone other than Bayern won it. Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund or working-class heroes Schalke (who finally picked up their first win of the season on Tuesday) would be better fits, for the good of football.
Germany’s twice-weekly football magazine Kicker asked the question last week- ‘How attractive is the Bundesliga really?’
The Bundesliga is extremely financially stable compared to the excess of the English Premier League. This is one of the reasons for the Bundesliga’s rise in popularity over the last few years.
That over two-thirds of the sides are fan-owned has its own appeal for fans outside looking in, perhaps feeling disenfranchised by the almost perverse amounts of money involved in the game at the highest level.
But it is this money, brought in through sponsorships and TV rights across the world, that attracts the biggest names in football to England and Spain.
Bayern are the only side in Germany that can match the financial powerhouses of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and the two Manchester sides.
This has made them the club fans love to hate across the rest of Germany, in a similar vein to Manchester United in England. Bayern are seen as being the epitome of the globalisation of football.
As one ex-pat resident of Munich told me recently with a wry smile:
…the atmosphere at Bayern is terrible. The typical Bayern fan turns up once a year with kids in tow and does the crossword throughout the match.
Going to 1860 (Munich) matches in the second division is much better, it reminds me of going to Sheffield United matches back home. They’re rubbish and the crowd erupts into jeers at the final whistle.’
Now while this opinion may not necessarily be shared by everyone, it is one that sounds familiar- that kind of passion is what football is all about after all.
Football is about supporting your team through thick and thin, come rain or shine.
It’s just as much about the lows of relegation and maybe even the threat of administration these days as it is about the highs of promotion and championships.
It definitely isn’t about supporting the famous and successful teams simply because it’s more fashionable. So an unlikely victory for Paderborn on Tuesday night would have been a victory for football not just in Germany, but across the world.
Last season Bayern almost waltzed to the title.
Hopefully this won’t be the case again this season, or the answer to Kicker magazine’s question may have to be one that fans don’t want to hear.