Bayern Munich are chasing an eighth consecutive Bundesliga crown, but Borussia Dortmund look well-placed to end their rivals’ dominance.
𝐁𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐚 is 𝑩𝑨𝑪𝑲 🇩🇪⚽ pic.twitter.com/KWwXQBABDW
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) August 16, 2019
Halfway through last season, Borussia Dortmund were in pole position to dethrone Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.
The new year saw Lucien Favre’s bright young side falter just enough for Bayern’s know how to tell, with Niko Kovac’s men claiming a seventh successive top-flight crown.
But it means the anticipation is for a memorable tussle once again this time around, with the processions of recent campaigns hopefully a thing of the past. Throw in an ambitious chasing pack and you have quite a spectacle.
Before the first ball is kicked, Bundesliga journalists have put their necks on the line with some top-four predictions.
1st – Borussia Dortmund
Unlike our near-unanimous choice for Manchester City to be Premier League champions, the panel was understandably split down the middle over who will prevail out of Dortmund and Bayern. BVB just got the edge.
Streggths: Wonderful attacking quality, expertly coached by Favre, which is now bolstered by the arrivals of Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard. The returning Mats Hummels – alongside the likes of the talismanic Marco Reus and Axel Witsel – ensures a pleasing blend between experience and future stars.
Weaknesses: Can they handle the pressure better than last time around? Hummels is a fine addition but has a significant job on his hands to shore up a vulnerable defence in front of the gifted but error-prone Roman Burki.
2nd – Bayern Munich
Despite an unconvincing close season in the transfer market, defined by the unseemly Leroy Sane saga, it remains hard to back against the Bundesliga’s dominant force. But we have!
Strengths: Supreme title-winning pedigree and, although lacking some of the depth they would like, the best collection of individual players in the league. Robert Lewandowski is going for a fifth Torjagerkanone, while there are signs Manuel Neuer might be back to his best.
Weaknesses: Light in attack after the departures of club greats Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. Significant doubts remain over whether Kovac is the right man from the job, seemingly from the terraces to boardroom level. As such, Uli Hoeness’ mooted departure as chairman could lead to turmoil.
🎶 Get in the matchday mood with the new #MiaSanMia song! 🔴⚪
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) August 16, 2019
3rd – RB Leipzig
German football’s new kids on the block were the only other a unanimous choice to finish inside the top four.
Strengths: Julian Nagelsmann has cast himself as a generational coaching talent and should be the man to take last season’s beaten DFB-Pokal finalists on to the next level. They have bought shrewdly by bringing in the likes of Christopher Nkunku and Ademola Lookman.
Weaknesses: The distraction of star forward Timo Werner entering the final year of his contract. Adapting to Nagelsmann’s detailed pressing system is likely to be a challenge.
🗣️ Julian #Nagelsmann: “Union are interesting opponents with their tall and robust players. They have a strong aerial presence and react well for the second ball. We have to match their physicality.”
— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) August 16, 2019
4th – Bayer Leverkusen
Peter Bosz’s time in charge of Dortmund might have ended abruptly but he is doing plenty to convince with a vibrant Leverkusen side.
Strengths: Kai Havertz scored 20 goals in all competitions last season and is a superstar-in-waiting. They have bought well, with Moussa Diaby an exciting replacement for Brandt. The arrival of Hoffenheim duo Kerem Demirbay and Nadiem Amiri also strengthens Bosz’s hand significantly.
Weaknesse: The coach’s system is always likely to lead to defensive vulnerability and there is a lack of quality cover for Jonathan Tah and Sven Bender at centre-back.
😍 TOMORROW 😍
— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) August 16, 2019