The Battle of the Bundesliga

FC Hollywood always win the league. And when they miss out on it one year, they always, win it the following year. Always.

Until recently, the above statement was true. Since 1995/6 when Borussia Dortmund won the title, FC Hollywood (or, as they are more commonly know, Bayern Munich,) have won the Bundesliga 9 times. And in every case when the team formed of superstars have not been dominant in the league, Die Roten have won the league next time round…this was true, until last year that is. Dortmund’s youthful team, famed for its skilled, pacey, fluid midfield triumphed, under the guidance of acclaimed Jurgen Klopp, broke the trend of Bayern’s dominance. It would be foolish, incorrect even, to say that Bayern are the only team to win the Bundesliga. In the last 10 years alone, 5 different teams have lifted the iconic dish, more teams have won the top division in Germany in that period, than teams in the Premier League, Serie and, of course, Spain. However, none of Werder Bremen, Stuttgart or Wolfsburg ever retained the trophy. Hollywood always bounced back to bite them in the rear.

And so, it was largely expected that Bayern, now under the guidance of experienced and proven Maestro, Juup Heynckes, would demolish Dortmund in the league. However, such an event did not occur. Dortmund won fairly comfortably in the league, and smashed Bayern in the Pokal final. They even fended off Bayern in the transfer market, securing the signing of Gladbach revelation Marco Reus, despite public interest from Die Bayern, a coup which shocked Bayern to its core, and was previously unheard of. In order to replace this disappointment with optimism, Bayern decided to announce a ‘big-money signing’ on its Facebook page…it turned out it was a ‘twelfth man’, a picture of all the faces of Bayern fans…a nice gesture? Or a massive let down, which enraged Bayern fans everywhere? You decide.

By the end of the season, Bayern had been in two finals, and had a crucial title-deciding game against Dortmund in the league. They lost all three. This was, simply, not good enough. So Heynckes and the board moved quickly to strengthen the squad. Exciting prospect Xherdan Shaqiri put pen to paper, and supreme strikers Mario Mandzuckic and Claudio Pizarro were also signed. Tom Starke and Dante, were both useful signings…and, just to tidy things up, Spanish starlet Javi Martinez was secured for a fee in the region 40 million Euros.

So the fans were appeased, and Bayern had shown they were still the major players in the transfer market. The start of the season loomed, but before that was the small matter of the Super Cup…against Dortmund. Bayern came from behind to win 2-1, a win and a trophy, which surely gave a team prone to losing in finals, restored confidence. So, the league? How would Bayern cope? Well, the scores say it all. Furth 0-3 Bayern, Bayern 6-1 Stuttgart, Bayern 3-1 Mainz and Schalke 0-2 Bayern. A decent start, I’m sure you’ll agree, with Muller top of the scorer charts, and with Mandzukic and Kroos tied for second. Oh, and they’re top of the league too, already five points ahead of Dortmund.

There is a common theory amongst successful managers, with Jose Mourinho being part of the group, that you should stay at a winning club for two years, by the third year, you will have exhausted your motivation and tactics on the players, and unless new-blood is introduced on a large scale, the team won’t succeed. It is what happened at Inter when Jose left, and, to a lesser extent, at Chelsea. Will Dortmund be able to triumph for a third year in a row, whilst also trying to make the mark on the Champions League? The answer, in my opinion: probably not. One thing is for sure though, Bayern will be incredibly difficult to stop.

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