Arsène Wenger

Bayern Munich’s latest Bundesliga triumph proves money is killing football

Arsene Wenger

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Bayern Munich's players celebrate after their Bundesliga match against Hertha Berlin in Berlin March 25, 2014. Bayern Munich clinched the Bundesliga title in record time after easing past Hertha Berlin 3-1 on Tuesday with seven games left in the campaign. Last season's treble winners secured their 23rd Bundesliga crown since its 1963 creation with a record 10th straight away victory, stretching their winning streak to a staggering 19 consecutive games and their unbeaten run to 52 league matches.

Manchester United drew with them in the Champions League, but Bayern Munich are far ahead of the competition in Germany. If we look at Bayern's success as an example, I think UEFA's Financial fair play must be brought in, and adhered to for the good of the game.

I think it’s a good decision, a fair decision. We have to go down that path. Otherwise, we will all end up in the street. Why? Because there are new billionaires every day, and crazy people too.

Football is seen as a financial competition without any economic logic. It’s leading to a two speed football, and national championships become dull.

Why? Because one team only can win it. I totally respect the work of Bayern, but when you see that the title is given eight matchdays before the end of the season, there is something utterly illogical. And the Bundesliga is not a small championship.

The conditions must be looked at again. The competing teams must almost be able to think that maybe they can win this year. It has happened before in history. It can happen again, but won’t be possible without financial regulations.

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I note that the Nations League has been approved, but I don’t want to give a judgment on that project, because it’s still too blurry. It’s based on an idea which doesn’t seem big enough for me to support a project like this. Why? Because it supposes that some countries don’t find friendly matches.

This idea doesn’t feel strong enough to lead to a completely new competition. Still, I’m open to talk and discuss about it. Some people must have thought about it, and saw that it could lead to positive things. For a start, I always think all competition should aspire to an improvement of play, and not just to fill blanks.

Well, I think we will have to all sit around a table – clubs and nations – to finally find a better balance and a better protection for both clubs and nations. It’s always dangerous to create new competitions without really knowing where it can lead us.

How? When? How many more matches? They will have to be very cautious, as the calendar is already exploding. Today, the World Cup starts on June 10, and ends July 13. The national championships start early August. But when will all the players be able to go on holidays?

Those going far in the World Cup, when will they have a rest? There isn't much preparation time any more. There already are problems with the calendar. Let’s not add more.


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Lyon v Juventus

It is far from an easy quarter-final draw for Lyon, but I think they have evolved nicely since the beginning of the season.

Their slow start was illustrated by their matches against Real Sociedad during Champions League qualifying. They stumbled a bit in the Championship too. Remi Garde did a good job, and his team evolved nicely. Today, I like their solidity, and their collective play.

Juventus will be the favourites, but I’d still put a few coins on Lyon. A bit by affection, but also because I like what they are proposing. Lyon are a work in progress while Juventus already impress.

Juventus are more fully developed. But let us not forget that Juventus were one of the teams playing in the Champions League, and the winner of the Europa League is possibly among them.

Does the motivation of having the final held in your stadium work every year?

No, otherwise we would already know the winner. It can be both extra motivation, and more pressure. I still think that nobody will deny that Juventus are the favourites. They almost finished the job in Serie A; they might be thinking “Let us win a European trophy!”

AZ Alkmaar v Benfica

Every year, Benfica and Porto come back to this tournament. Why? Because they both play the first stage of the Champions League and then the second stage of the Europa League.

They take advantage of their qualities. Benfica are easily the favourites, as they defeated Tottenham. I wouldn’t understand if they didn’t qualify against AZ.

Porto v Sevilla

This is a tighter match, because Portuguese and Spanish football know each other well. It’s always hard to play against Spanish teams in European cups, because their players always have great technical skills.

Honestly, I can’t give a winner. Seville have just won against Real Madrid. They have quality players: Rakitic, Reyes. So, they have very good players - Gameiro, M’Bia too. It’s a very, very open confrontation.

Can Porto and Benfica’s experience be an asset for them? They have a small advantage too. I’d say: 50/50 for Porto v. Seville, 60/40 for Benfica against AZ.

Basel v Valencia

Basel in the Champions League worked wonders at the beginning of the season when they won at Chelsea, and Valencia are actually coming back quite well after a period of inconsistency. However, I’d still give a little advantage to the Spanish team, because they always are difficult to play against.

And Basel have seemed less convincing since January, compared to the beginning of the season. Maybe they’ll wake up, and that’s all I wish for them. They are doing excellent work at this club.

I’d say Valencia are a bit ahead, but it will be interesting to see what Basel can do. They are losing their best players all the time, but they always perform well against English teams.

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