Like a master illusionist performing his showpiece trick, Bayern Munich have put on an exemplary smoke-and-mirrors display this week.
President Uli Hoeness is currently embroiled in a tax evasion scandal, after "voluntarily disclosing" a sum of money held in a Swiss bank account. The situation—which apparently led to the 61-year-old's arrest and subsequent €5 million bail last month—has drawn criticism from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and has been severely detrimental to FC Bayern's reputation as a financially stable organization.
Yet while this trick was being performed, a decoy has been put in place to divert our attention away. That convenient decoy is the €37 million purchase of Mario Götze from fierce rivals Borussia Dortmund.
While the early announcement of an agreement for the talented midfielder seems to have been completely unsuccessful in its attempt to unsettle BVB ahead of their big match with Real Madrid, it has detracted attention from Hoeness' tax woes.
But diversion from financial difficulty is not the most important by-product of the transfer. Bayern's gain is BVB's loss, and in the eyes of the Bavarian giants, weakening a close competitor is just as important as strengthening the squad.
And if rumors in the press are to be believed, Bayern's closest domestic competitors are set to be weakened even further. After his magnificent display against Madrid, whispers of Robert Lewandowski's summer departure will intensify. Sir Alex Ferguson is said to be an admirer, and Spanish paper AS believe that a deal has already been struck for the Polish centre forward to follow Götze to the Allianz Arena.
Hugely important players like Marco Reus and Mats Hummels have also been linked with big-money moves away from the Westfalonstadion (The Express links the former with Chelsea, while the latter has been repeatedly linked with Barcelona).
Since they nearly went bust in 2004, BVB have generally avoided the big spending that landed them in serious financial trouble. According to Paddy Power on Twitter, their entire XI against Real Madrid cost less to assemble than Kaka cost the Spanish giants.
Last year, Dortmund chief financial officer Thomas Tress said: "You have to focus your economic strength and not have the idea to compete with clubs like Bayern Munich or Barcelona, because these clubs have much higher revenues and more economic strength." (via sportspromedia.com)
If their austerity continues, and Bayern Munich's dominance prevails, there is a risk of BVB falling behind and the Bundesliga becoming a one-team league.
Speaking after Die Roten won the famous Viking shield for a record 23rd time, BVB manager Jurgen Klopp expressed his concern that the Bavarians could pull away from the rest of the league. When asked whether the German top flight is developing a two-horse race like La Liga, he said (via Goal.com):
"I fear a situation like Scotland with only one team. Next year, we will see the Bayern team and say: 'Oops!' Hoeness will not have been right about 'Spanish conditions'."
Celtic won their second consecutive SPL title over the weekend after going 15 points clear of nearest rivals Motherwell. With Old Firm rivals Glasgow Rangers out of the picture for at least a few more seasons, Celtic's dominance is unsurprising and predictable.
With their unrelenting dominance on European and domestic fronts—and the possibility of a treble looking quite likely—Bayern Munich are undoubtedly the best team in Europe right now. Next year, they will have Barcelona's most successful manager of all time at the helm—Pep Guardiola—along with Mario Götze and any other talent the Spaniard brings in.
Klopp's fears of a Scottish-style Bundesliga may be pessimistic, but they are genuine. In a press conference this week, the BVB coach admitted he knew about Götze's transfer after the terrific Champions League quarterfinal victory over Malaga. Therefore, he had this knowledge in the back of his mind when making the Scotland comments. If anyone is able to foresee a period of Bayern Munich dominance, it is surely the manager of their closest rival.
However, a cursory glance at Dortmund's performances in the Champions League this season shows that they are not willing to fade away any time soon. They are the only undefeated team left in the competition and—after stunning Real Madrid at the Westfalonstadion—they stand a very good chance of lifting their first European Cup since 1997.
Not only will their continued success in the Champions League bring in additional revenue to help build the squad for next season, but it will undoubtedly encourage plenty of their star players to stay at the club.
If BVB make it to Wembley and succumb to Bayern Munich, they would have come second in the league, been knocked out of the DFB Pokal by their fiercest rivals and lost a Champions League Final.
That trilogy of heartbreak, you will notice, is the exact same thing that happened to Bayern last year. Look how much it spurred them on to dominate their opposition in this campaign.
The fears of Germany's top flight becoming a one-horse race are not unfounded, but a season of 'second best' for BVB could be exactly what the doctor ordered to kick-start another fierce fight between the Bundesliga's two biggest sides in 2013-14.
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