Bayern Munich begin their defence of the Bundesliga title this Friday with a curtain-raiser against Borussia Monchengladbach. Last season’s treble-winners haven’t spent the summer twiddling their thumbs or resting on their laurels, and they’ve hired boss Pep Guardiola, signed Manchester United target Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona and pinched Mario Gotze from rivals Borussia Dortmund.
After winning the league by 25 points last season Bayern are the 1/5 favourites to retain their crown. Bundesliga fan Lucas Swain (@BundesligaLucas) joins the Paddy Power Blog to see if anyone has a chance of stopping Munich…
Pep Guardiola’s early days in the Bavarian capital have been met with an air of scepticism. Despite early signs of it running smoothly for the meticulous Catalan, Bayern Munich were recently on the wrong end of 4-2 scoreline to Borussia Dortmund in the DFL-Supercup, which has left a sour taste in the mouth.
Guardiola joined Bayern just after they’d had their most successful season in history, so there is huge pressure on him to succeed following Jupp Heynckes’ fantastic treble winning term. Although the Bayern Munich chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, doesn’t take well to losing, Guardiola’s biggest challenge WON’T be to constantly avoid defeat. Guardiola’s biggest challenge comes with keeping all players’ egos content.
With nineteen fully fledged internationals in a World Cup season and a plethora of midfield talent, is Bayern’s stein too full on this occasion? Guardiola does have a herculean task of giving all of these players the appropriate amount of minutes to allow them to compete for a spot in their respective national sides, and this allows some room for Borussia Dortmund to slip in under the radar.
The forthcoming Bundesliga season is Bayern Munich’s to lose, but if Bayern do flounder, Dortmund will be there waiting. Priced at an enticing 5/1, Borussia Dortmund more than carry title-winning credentials, it’s a matter of whether you think they outweigh Bayern Munich’s.
When Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich come head-to-head Dortmund tend to put up a great fight against the undisputed champions of Germany, but one thing Jupp Heynckes managed to do brilliantly was to near-nullify Dortmund’s famous counter-attacking and high pressing system. In the recently contested Supercup it was clear that Guardiola had his team set up differently, and in turn Bayern weren’t as capable of stopping Dortmund’s incredibly hard-to-handle system.
Take Thiago Alcântara for example: Thiago was occupying the pivot role in midfield, although this position was relatively new to him, he was an asset to Bayern when he dropped deep, picked up the ball and launched forward attacks. The problem arose when Bayern were under pressure. It was clear Thiago was lost when put up against Ilkay Gündogan, and this was one of many reasons why Bayern lost the game.
It is without any doubt that both managers were keeping their cards close to their chest, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola haven’t attained the plaudits they have by being sloppy, and it’s also worth noting a host of expected starters for either side were not present for a variety of reasons.
So, can Bayern Munich be beaten to the Bundesliga title? Maybe. Borussia Dortmund are in a much stronger position than last year with the additions of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, despite losing 2011’s Golden Boy, Mario Götze.
But should Bayern Munich’s players take to Pep Guardiola and his system when the new season comes about, then I don’t think there’s a team in Europe that could stop them, let alone in Germany.