Bundesliga is back open for business
With the coronavirus pandemic still locking down competitive sport all over the globe, Football has been one of the hardest-hit disciplines and with a clamor to see the beautiful game return, the wait for supporters and players alike has been agonizing.
Much has been made about how the major leagues in Europe will restart if they do at all and with the Dutch and French divisions halting proceedings early, there was a nervous feeling in countries such as England and Spain.
Another of Europe’s “Big Five” leagues that have been primed for a restart is the Bundesliga and after some further Government enforced delays, it seems as if Germany’s top two divisions are open for business on May 16th.
Although although the Premier League looks like it will eventually be won by a dominant Liverpool, there is still very much a title race in Germany, and unsurprisingly Bayern Munich are favorites to lift the title.
They may have sacked Niko Kovac earlier in the season and although managerial changes always have an element of risk attached to them, Bayern have certainly improved since the departure of the former Croatia international.
Taking the reins from Kovac, was none other than Hans-Dieter Flick and although he is not the household name that the Bavarian giants usually plump for, he does understand the inner workings of the Allianz Arena outfit and seemed a smart choice in terms of replacement.
Detractors of the 55-year-old will argue the fact that Flick was only given the position because there were a paucity of genuine contenders, and although there is a modicum of truth to that, the man who played for the club between 1985 and 1990 seems to be having the last laugh.
However, there are still nine weeks of the season still to be played and Bayern are not able to rest on their laurels just yet – even if they can call upon the attacking prowess of Poland’s Robert Lewandowski.
The 31-year-old forward has scored an incredible 25 goals in the Bundesliga this season and he finds himself in a two-horse race with Germany’s Timo Werner, in a bid to win the much-coveted domestic Golden Boot award.
While Werner’s employers cannot be ruled out of this season’s Bundesliga title race either and although they are currently five points off the top in third, RB Leipzig will still consider themselves genuine contenders.
Although it must be said, German football finds itself in something of a dichotomy when it comes to RB Leipzig and with the club being owned by Energy Drink giants Red Bull, there is a belief that the evil tentacles of commercialism are stretching to the home of the 2014 World Cup winners.
With that in mind, if RB Leipzig were to win the Bundesliga this season, it would not be viewed as a popular achievement across the rest of the country and although that could be the case, you have to ask yourself whether more Bayern dominance is just as welcome.
The fact that one club has won the last seven editions of the Bundesliga is not good for business and although there is a sense of being stuck between a rock and a hard place, there is another contender that should not be overlooked.
That being, Borussia Dortmund and with the Signal-Iduna Park being four points off the top, Lucien Favre’s men (or should that be young starlets?) will be ready to have a major say in the destination of this season’s Bundesliga.
It has often been a case of always the bridesmaid and never the bride for Dortmund in these past few years and since the glory days under Jurgen Klopp at the start of the last decade, they have yet to scale the mountain top since.
While the fact that they are playing catch up to Bayern may actually be a position that they prefer in this final quarter of the campaign and it could well be that the pressure to get over the line, might see the current leaders crack.
Then again, this is an institution that has been there, done it and worn the t-shirt many times and although nothing is over until it’s over, Bayern are firmly in the box seat and it will take some effort to displace them.