With the champions league in full flow, one of the main talking points has been around whether German football’s recent resurgence will continue.
Having won the title last season, after beating Borussia Dortmund
in the final at Wembley, Bayern Munich
are the bookies favourite to retain their crown.
They will go into the competition with a new head coach, having replaced Jupp Heynckes
with former Barcelona
manager, Pep Guardiola
. Having made such a big decision on replacing Heynckes, the big question is how Guardiola will go about stamping his mark on his Bayern side will? It does seem unlikely that he will attempt to change too much of the work that his predecessor put into place so soon in his tenure, but every manager wants stamp their mark on a new team, so changes are expected throughout the campaign.
The change of leadership, at the moment, doesn’t seem to have had an adverse effect on the team with 13 points out of a potential 15 in the league, and Bayern will be looking forward to another attempt at a domestic and European treble, to add to the super cup that they won against Chelsea in August
Bayern have also strengthened during the summer, with Mario Gotze
arriving from Borussia Dortmund, and Thiago Alcantara
reuniting with Guardiola having worked together at Barcelona. Both players add to an already imposing starting lineup with established players like Robben, Ribery and Muller starting to find top gear early in the domestic season.
Whilst Dortmund lost in the final last season, their attempt to go one better was boosted by keeping a hold of their highly converted striker Robert Lewandoski. Seemingly destined to follow Gotze to Bayern, Dortmund managed to convince the striker to stay, despite his best efforts to engineer a move to the German champions. Whether this game of sporting brinkmanship comes off for Dortmund and Lewandoski we await to see but going by his brace at the weekend against Hamburg, it looks as if their differences have been settled for the time being.
The emergence of Dortmund into Europe’s elite is also down to no small part of their charismatic manager, Jurgen Klopp. This season, Klopp will have to handle to the weight of expectation which has grown from last seasons near miss, and hopefully avoid the dreaded second season syndrome that affects many clubs after their breakthrough seasons.
Dortmund and Klopp have invested wisely to that fate, investing the money from the Gotze transfer back into the team, by snapping up rumoured Liverpool target Henrikh Mkhitaryan, from Shaktar Donetsk, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from St. Etienne. The addition of Mkhitaryan as a direct replacement for Gotze will allow Dortmund to continue in the same style that served them so well on their road to Wembley last season.
Whilst not gaining as much attention as Bayern or Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke qualified for the Champions league, and may well be dark horses this season a continued German domination.
Having finished third last season, one point behind Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen are more than capable of springing a surprise or two in this seasons competition. Under the guidance of former Liverpool captain, Sami Hyypia, they have quietly gone about their business and have won four out of five matches this season in the league and sit just behind Dortmund and Bayern.
Whether Bayer can cope with the sheer physical demands of both a domestic and Champions League campaign will be seen if they make it through the group stages, but with other teams under greater pressure to succeed in Europe, Bayer may well be able to slip under the radar and make it into the knock out rounds.
Whilst Bayer have started the domestic season strongly, Schalke have struggled to find stability and form. Currently sitting ninth in the league, their form has only started to improve after signing Kevin-Prince Boateng from AC Milan at the end of the transfer window. Since then, they have won their last three games in all competitions and are starting to show the form that secured their place in this seasons Champions League.
If German football domination is to continue, it will be as a result of how Guardiola handles the pressure from the Bayern fans in his first season, if Klopp can handle the increased scrutiny of his sides performances having set the bar so high last season, or whether Bayer Leverkusen or Schalke can spring a few surprises along the way. Come the final next year in Lisbon, we will have the answer.
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