Why Bayern will still trump Dortmund this season
It's been a while since Bayern Munich has had to worry about defending their title in the Bundesliga. In fact, the last time Borussia Dortmund troubled the Bavarians was in 2012. Back then, Jurgen Klopp masterminded the double over their bitter rivals. Dortmund beat Bayern to both the league title and the DFB-Pokal. A 5-2 victory at the final indicated the level of dominance. But Bayern came back with a vengeance the next season beating Klopp’s men to both the league title and in the Champions League final.
Der FCB has not looked back since. It's been total domination as far as the domestic league is concerned, winning the title in the last six seasons. Dortmund has struggled to mount any serious challenge during that period, finishing fourth last term.
But Die Schwarzgelben has been in inspired form this campaign. Lucien Favre's relatively young side has been a revelation both in the league and on the continent. A recent 4-0 thrashing of Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid in the Champions League raised eyebrows suggesting a resurgence that could see the club challenge for titles this season. Despite losing 2-0 in the reverse fixture in Spain, they still top Group A of the competition and are guaranteed a place in the second round.
Back home, they lead the Bundesliga as well. A healthy four-point lead at the top of the table has some feeling this may be their season. Bayern sits third at the moment four points behind the leaders. But despite dropping points at home to Freiburg recently, they have been on upward mobility on the table.
Firstly, Die Roten have got what the table-toppers don't have - experience and a winning mentality. When a side wins the league title for six seasons straight and comfortably as well, it will always be difficult to dethrone them. The squad is still very much the same with quality additions like Leon Goretzka (who was the best player for Schalke last season) also brought in during the beginning of the summer to replace Arturo Vidal.
Secondly, Dortmund lacks sufficient quality to see the team through the whole length of the campaign. A blistering start is always easy, but staying the course is usually the biggest challenge. Progression in the Champions League and competing on different fronts will have its toll on the players as the season progresses.
Also, later stages of each competition will require more than youthful exuberance. Experience and nerves of steel will be required. That's where the cookies will crumble. Youngsters like Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi could not cement a place in the first team at both Manchester City and Real Madrid for a good reason - experience is required to win trophies. Although there is a bit of it in the squad through players like Axel Witsel, Mario Gotze and club captain Marco Reus, that may not be enough. Niko Kovac's men, on the other hand, are well equipped to weather the storm and ride on to a seventh successive league title.
The upcoming Der Klassiker could be the starting point. Dortmund will have their biggest test to their title aspirations when they square up against their more illustrious rivals. A win for Bayern will reduce the lead at the top of the table to just a point. That would signal the beginning of the end to the title hopes for Die Borussen. But even a loss will not rule FC Hollywood out of the title race. The serial winners are capable of clawing their way back to the top of the table in due course. After all, it’s still early in the campaign.