After a short spell of Dortmund supremacy, Heyncke’s Bayern won the 2012/13 title by a staggering 25 points and the chasing pack have been gradually catching up ever since. Bayern won with a 19 point margin the following year and ten points in 2014/15 and 2015/16. Dortmund’s Thomas Tuchel, whose team were just five points adrift of Bayern last April, will believe his side can make the final step and usurp their rivals this season.
The biggest threat to Bayern’s monopolisation of the Bundesliga is the sharp tactical transition they have made over the summer. Carlo Ancelotti has won 16 major titles in his career, but represents a dramatic shift from the possession-centric football of the new Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola.
He is a considerably more pragmatic, defensive coach and this will most likely lead to a slight decrease in their overall points tally for 2016/17. Bayern won 88 points last season and at 1.142* is once again the odds on favourite to win this season
Guardiola’s extraordinary achievements in Germany have been unfairly overshadowed by two or three performances in the Champions League semi-finals. As such, it would be unwise to assume that Ancelotti’s Bayern will comfortably top the table come May.
The biggest threat to Bayern’s dominance is the sharp tactical transition they made with Carlo Ancelotti and the shift he represents from the possession-centric football of Guardiola.
However, Ancelotti has inherited arguably the strongest squad in world football and since Bayern have won 25 of the 52 Bundesliga titles they have a strong winning mentality. The additions this summer of Mats Hummels (from Dortmund) and Renato Sanches (from Benfica) have added a physical strength that was occasionally lacking last campaign.
Dortmund have also undergone dramatic restructuring this summer. Three of their most important players (Hummels, Ilkay Gundogan, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan) have left the club whilst eight new faces have joined. The most eye-catching of these is Mario Gotze, re-signed from Bayern, and Andre Schurrle from Wolfsburg.
Some question Tuchel’s ability to rebuild his team after yet another summer of upheaval, but the speed and incisiveness of Marco Reus, Gotze, Schurrle and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should see them score plenty of goals this season.
Can Leverkusen and Wolfsburg bridge the gap?
The other contenders for the title are Bayern Leverkusen and Wolfsburg, although neither are considered to be a major threat to Bayern Munich and Dortmund. Leverkusen finished 28 points off the top last season, whilst Wolfsburg – despite reaching the Champions League quarter-final - finished 8th.
A lack of European football gives Wolfsburg an edge in the league, although losing Schurrle is a big blow. Centre-back Jeffrey Bruma and midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski are excellent signings and should help them finish in the Champions League places in 2016/17.
Having said that, a two horse race is almost certain. Huge change at Bayern and Dortmund makes this Bundesliga season less predictable than in any of the last four years and ultimately this should favour the challengers. Ancelotti’s tactical changes may prove too much for Bayern’s players to cope with, whilst the youthful energy of Tuchel’s new acquisitions is likely to lift Dortmund to a higher points tally than in 2015/16. Should Bayern slip up this year, the odds for the champions not to win the tile is currently at 6.12*.
*Odds subject to change