If the Bundesliga were an adult movie—note to millennials, that’s an old school term for “porn”—Bayern Munich would be the ingénue.
You know the type. She’s forever coming of age, always exploring and enjoying her options. And all in front of a Panaflex camera loaded with a magazine of 35mm color film.
Yes, I did just type the word, “film”. That’s how out-of-date the example is.
But then some would say that many Bundesliga faithful are similarly out-of-date in their attitude towards their own league’s future. The old school bristle at every unconventional turn in the business of the league. They worry about the unabated appetites of the member clubs as those are presently evolving.
But the facts are plain. The German league has been left at the gate by the international success of England’s Premiership and has been almost as slow to embrace the new century’s challenges to the old order of world football as has Italy’s Serie A.
The Bundesliga season just concluded is the best testament to the conflict between the traditions of the past and the onrush of the future. In the course of that season a none-too-subtle counterpoint to Bayern’s ingénue arose…in the form of a bull.
Well, two bulls actually. The red bulls of RB Leipzig. Eschewing the style of Bayern’s innocent charm, Leipzig has come on a lot more like 21st Century erotica.
Newly promoted just this last year, RBL are HD, instantly streamed, tattooed, pierced and shamelessly derivative of the most “hentai” of their international football (soccer) cohort: namely, MLS.
That’s right. Leipzig went there. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be much of anywhere that Leipzig is not willing to go. And for all of the backlash, that attitude seems to be bringing the club success on the pitch and consequent success in the stands.
Having edged out Dortmund for second place on the final Bundesliga table of 2016-2017, Leipzig have a legitimate chance to win the actual thing next time. Bayern, for all of its wide-eyed irreproachability, is getting on in years. Major surgical intervention seems imminent.
Simultaneously, Leipzig seems very much to have been born in a state of “enhancement and augmentation”. On top of that the upstart shows no sign of reticence to doing anything that immediate success might require (perhaps even to the point of ruthlessness).
Of course it is not so much Leipzig that is willing as it is their owners: Red Bull of Austria. That too is one of the main sticking points with some critics of the club that edged out Dortmund for second place in 2016-17.
Not only are Red Bull not local, but they are also corporatized, multinational and completely audacious. They own an F1 racing team, they hold a franchise in Major League Soccer—New York (City) Red Bulls—and built that club a “Red Bull Arena”.
But those were venial sins compared with what was to come. In 2009, Red Bull bought a tiny German football club as a baldly manipulative means of acquiring that team’s association license. Then they built another “Red Bull Arena”, slapped a phony name on their new team, nutmegged the ownership regulations, and started…ahem, “working” their way to the nation’s top-flight.
Now, having finished second in Bundesliga in their first season, Leipzig are in the headiest of world football company. They have the opportunity—albeit a slim one—to win the now-coveted “treble” including a Champions League title as early as next year.
Of course, chances are that won’t come about this first time around, but in time it could very well come to pass.
When and if that day does come some (especially in Germany) would no doubt take it as the first sign of the Apocalypse. Money would have triumphed over tradition; easy virtue will have won out over guarded seduction. There might not be any going back to innocence for any of us at all…
On the other hand…where did I store that old Panaflex…?