Bayern troubles warm hearts above the white sausage equator
This was a great weekend for many German fans living above the ‘white sausage equator’, the notional line that separates Bavaria from the rest of the country.
Bayern Munich’s 2-0 defeat by VfB Stuttgart on Saturday means they are five points away from the Champions League places with four games left to play. Their title hopes are all but gone, and barring a series of surprises they will be consigned to the UEFA Cup next season.
Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer has derided the UEFA Cup as the “Losers’ Cup” and captain Oliver Kahn has said he has no desire to play in that tournament in what will likely be the final year of his career.
It’s a development that warms the hearts of the Bayern-haters around Germany, who are even united with a common song “Zieht den Bayern die Lederhosen aus” (Pull the leather trousers off Bayern) that they sing whenever the 20-time champions come to town.
Bayern have won six of the last eight Bundesliga titles and seven of the last 10. They’re seen by their detractors as being too rich, too selfish and with a nefarious habit of poaching the best players from the rest of the league to weaken their rivals.
Bayern have had disappointing seasons before, of course, but they may find it more difficult in regaining the upper hand this time, even if the club are prepared to spend a lot of cash. Attracting world class players to the Bundesliga is not easy at the best of times and if they cannot offer Champions League football next season it’s going to be even harder.
Erik Kirschbaum is a Reuters correspondent based in Berlin