After last week’s thrashing of Schalke 04, Bayern have scored nine goals while conceding none in their last two Bundesliga matches. The telltale signs are there of another strong Rückrunde after a particularly lacklustre first half of the league campaign. In the last three seasons, this has been a consistent trend. Bayern have had multiple weak starts to the season, teasing many fans into believing that the dominance of the record champions will end, but it never did.
Bayern are Bundesliga Champions, But For How Much Longer?
These Weak Starts Have Happened Before
Although Die Roten have not led the table yet this campaign, do not be surprised if the story is the same. This has happened before, and come May, Bayern are Bundesliga champions yet again. Since 2013, the Munich dynasty has not been dethroned. Jürgen Klopp’s Dortmund side were the last club not named Bayern to lift the Meisterschalle.
In the 2017-18 campaign, Carlo Ancelotti started his second season as Bayern manager. He had successfully led the side to the domestic double the year before, while losing a controversial Champions League semi-final to Real Madrid. In early September, Bayern dropped their first points, losing two-nill at Hoffenheim. Later that same month, they drew Wolfsburg at home and then lost three-nill at Paris Saint-Germain. Bayern were trailing Dortmund by just five points in the league, but that was all it took for Ancelotti to be sacked. In 2017, Bayern considered this weak start a disqualifying offense.
The Italian’s early season firing led many to believe that such instability might finally allow another club to win the league. These hopes were quickly put to bed. Legendary player and manager Jupp Heynckes was named interim boss, while Dortmund’s form under newly hired Peter Bosz spiralled out of control. The record champions quickly found their footing in the second half of the Hinrunde, and returned to their usual dominant selves in the Rückrunde. The story was the same. Bayern are Bundesliga champions yet again, but this time by a comfortable 21 point margin.
Bayern Narrowly Remained Bundesliga Champions Under Kovač
After winning the league in 2018 under Heynckes, Bayern decided to bring in highly successful Eintracht Frankfurt manager Nico Kovač. This time, the season began in even weaker fashion, but Kovač was allotted more time as the club recognized it was in a period of transition. The first four league matches of the campaign ended with Bayern wins, but then a draw and two losses in a row saw the side drop below Dortmund and Gladbach. With Dortmund performing spectacularly under newly appointed Lucien Favre, the black and yellow’s won Der Klassiker in November. Favre’s men had a nine point lead at one point in the Hinrunde. As we have become accustomed to, Dortmund began to falter in the Rückrunde, while Bayern’s form became consistent and unstoppable. Although many questions were asked up until the final day, Bayern were crowned Bundesliga champions yet again.
Kovač’s second season in charge began even worse than his first. Under his leadership, Bayern dropped 12 points in their first ten matches, culminating in a five-one defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt. This go around, the club’s leadership was not so supportive. In an ironic twist, the Croat was sacked after losing to his former employer. Hans-Dieter Flick was appointed as the interim manager. Bayern have since won ten of twelve.
There Are More Competitors This Season
Current leaders RB Leipzig and fourth place Dortmund are the two sides that can genuinely compete with Bayern into May. Borussia Mönchengladbach might be in third place right now, just one point behind Bayern, but they lack the consistency and depth to keep pace. Leipzig have been brilliant under German prodigy Julian Nagelsmann. The side looks energetic enough to continuing pushing Bayern. Remaining close and winning the title are two very different things, however. Leipzig lost last week to Eintracht, showing that there are some weaknesses to the current leaders.
Dortmund on the other hand are far less reliable. One cannot predict which side will show up. It could be the one that defeated Inter Milan after trailing by two goals at half time. It could also be the squad that lost four nill at Bayern. With the addition of super talent Erling Braut Håland, Favre’s men seem to finally have another strike option in addition to the inconsistent, but sometimes deadly Paco Alcácer. Only time will tell if this talented Dortmund side can make a push for the title.
Bayern are Bundesliga Champions but Should be Worried
In the first half of this season’s league campaign, Bayern have dropped 16 points. This is the club’s worst start since the 2010-11 Bundesliga campaign. The 2018-19 Hinrunde however, was just slightly better. In the past three seasons, the record champions have progressively regressed. The title was usually won in March or April. Those days are long gone. While pundits will likely be saying that Bayern are Bundesliga champions throughout 2020, next season could see a furthering of this regression.
An injury to Robert Lewandowski and the 2020-21 campaign could be an utter and unmitigated disaster. If it was not for the Pole’s goal-scoring prowess this season, Bayern would have dropped an additional eight points. The side is over-reliant on Lewandowski, inconsistent in defence, and is unsure who will replace Flick. Maybe next season we will see the crowning of a new Bundesliga champion. Bayern have been able to recover from lackluster starts in the last two campaigns and look ready to the same this year, but there are limits as to what can be remedied in the second half of the season.