Fergie recognises Bundesliga boom
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes the German Bundesliga is threatening the Premier League's status as the most exciting league in the world.
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For the first time since 1999, more teams from the Bundesliga made it out of the initial group stage of the Champions League than their English counterparts.
With Bayern Munich, Schalke and Borussia Dortmund all seeded for Thursday's knockout round draw, they are well placed to make deep inroads in the competition.
So, with cheap ticket prices fuelling a soccer boom in the country, Ferguson believes they offer a genuine challenge to England's position.
"The Premier League is still the most exciting in Europe," Ferguson told www.eurosport.com.
"The great thing about our league is that anyone can beat you.
"It has always had that great quality and in general it is 100 per cent commitment, which the supporters recognise.
"But Germany is very successful at the moment also.
"The crowds there are fantastic and it is very cheap in relation to English football, which encourages supporter participation.
"The stadiums are great and the games are good quality with a lot of goals.
"Germany is creeping up but ours is still the most exciting."
For the second season running, England lost half its Champions League contingent at the group stage.
Big-spending Manchester City have found the acclimatisation process much harder than they hoped, whilst this term Chelsea also bowed out, just as United did 12 months ago.
"Europe has been disappointing for the Premier League teams over the last couple of years," said Ferguson.
"For quite a few years we were getting three teams in the semi-finals, or at least two. In 2008 it was an all Premier League final.
"But sometimes you get blips.
"I don't think it is going to be a consistent thing. I think English teams will always be challenging to be in the latter stages of the European Cup."