The upcoming Bundesliga season will be the 54th in German soccer history. The dominance of Bayern Munich has been almost a constant over that half-century-plus. The Bavarians have won 26 league titles, including the last four. Nurnberg have the second most titles (9), but they’re not even in the top flight anymore.
The last team not named Bayern Munich to win the title was Borussia Dortmund in 2011-12. Dortmund once again look like Bayern’s biggest threat. But I use the term “biggest” liberally.
A total of 18 teams will vie for Germany’s top soccer prize, including SC Freiburg and RB Leipzig, who both move up from the second division looking to shock the establishment. But we all know who’s going to dominate, so let’s spill our ink on the teams that matter.
As the aforementioned stats show, Bayern are the bullies of the Bundesliga. But that success hasn’t translated to Europe. The Bavarians haven’t been able to reach the next level in the Champions League and parted ways with Pep Guardiola because of it. Three-time UCL winner Carlo Ancelotti takes over now, and he’ll only be deemed a success if he can capture a fourth with Bayern (and another Bundesliga title).
It may take Bayern a few weeks to adapt to the new manager, having played Guardiola’s possession-style for the last three years. Ancelotti has never worried much about possession numbers, stressing aggressive attacking when his team has the ball. His new roster – which includes Douglas Costa, Arjen Robben, and Thomas Muller – should play nicely into his hands, though.
On paper, at least, Borussia Dortmund are the only team that can challenge Bayern Munich. They have looked equally as dominant as Bayern at times recently, but haven’t been able to sustain that level of play. They have similar top-end talent as their Bavarian rivals (see Marco Reus), but not the same depth. When someone in the starting 11 gets injured, that’s when the problems set in.
And they could have problems right out of the gate as Reus is still dealing with a groin injury that kept him out of the Euro. He should be back for the start of the season, but don’t expect him to be at full speed immediately.
On defense, Borussia will have to deal with the departure of Matt Hummels, who joined Bayern in the offseason. Hummels has been arguably the best defender in the Bundesliga over the last three seasons. The midfield will also be feeling the crunch now that İlkay Gündoğan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan departed for Manchester United.
When this team is eventually at full health, the combination of Reus, striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and new-comer André Schürrle will make Dortmund fun to watch. However, a Bundesliga title might be too much to ask for.
Bayer Leverkusen: 33/1
Borussia Monchengladbach: 100/1
Mainz 05: 500/1
RB Leipzig: 500/1
Hertha Berlin: 750/1
FC Koln: 1000/1
(Photo Credit: André Zehetbauer (Hertha-Bayern 2-1) CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.)
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