Tuesday night felt like a rather symbolic moment in the Champions League for Bundesliga sides. While Borussia Dortmund were slowly succumbing to a disinterested Tottenham Hotspur side - following two abysmal draws to APOEL Nicosia - RB Leipzig were marching to a famous win in Monaco.
Despite what looked like a relatively easy route to third place, Peter Bosz’s side have put themselves in serious jeopardy of finishing last in Group H. Leipzig, in contrast, have managed to beat Porto and Monaco and go in to the final matchday fighting for either second or third place.
Indeed, on Wednesday morning UEFA’s updated coefficient rankings stated that the fledgling German club had already picked up three more coefficient points than Dortmund and amassed as many as Hoffenheim, Hertha Berlin, FC Koln and Freiburg combined.
If one team outside of Bayern Munich is doing the heavy in Europe on the Bundesliga’s behalf this season, it’s undoubtedly Ralph Hasenhüttl’s. And as the league looks more and more worried at its standing in European football, that appreciation and perhaps even reliance will surely only grow.
This season the German top division moved from second to fourth in UEFA’s country rankings, putting them behind England, Spain and Italy’s comparable top divisions. France, with an ambitious PSG side, are still some distance behind but over the next five years could quite easily leapfrog the Bundesliga and force themselves in to the top four.
If that were to happen we’d then see three German teams in Europe’s premier competition rather than four, which would be a bitter blow to a league that is doing its utmost to catch Spanish and English football’s appeal around the world.
The fact of the matter is that to be one of the top four clubs in Europe you need more than one team competing in the Champions League. While the Bundesliga may have Bayern to challenge for the major trophy, it hasn’t had Dortmund picking up big continental scalps since they reached the final in 2013.
Football can change very suddenly, but the current trend in German football seems to suggest that while Dortmund continue falling, their counterparts in Saxony will only get stronger and solidify their hold on second place.
The Westfalenstadion side may get their house in order before too long, but until then the responsibility for picking up coefficient points outside of the Allianz Arena seems to now rest solely on Leipzig’s shoulders. Whether the rest of the Bundesliga is willing to accept or even appreciate that, is another matter entirely.