Bayern build in quest to regain title
Published: 04.09.12 / Written by: David Gold
Bayern Munich are not used to failing to win the league twice in a row.
Borussia Dortmund’s triumph in May in the Bundesliga was the first time a team had managed to retain the title who were not Bayern since Dortmund themselves did so in the 1990s.
With such a challenge though, Bayern are not a team given to lying down and accepting inferiority. This summer they have been furiously rebuilding ahead of the new campaign. In came Dante, the central defender who was integral to Borussia Moenchengladbach’s impressive run to Champions League qualification last year.
The Brazilian should help to add quality to a defence which was inconsistent last year. At times Bayern were impregnable at the back, other times they were extremely vulnerable. Not least when they were crushed 5-2 by Borussia Dortmund in the final of the German Cup.
That defeat was the fifth in a row to the back to back Bundesliga champions, and Jurgen Klopp’s side look just as menacing, if not even more so, this year. They have kept most of their stars. Although Shinji Kagawa is the big loss, they have brought in Marco Reus, who looks a more than adequate replacement for the Japanese. Other key men, from Mario Goetze to Robert Lewandowski and Mats Hummels, have remained and they look as difficult to beat as ever.
One of Bayern’s issues last year was squad size. They used the least players of any major team in Europe’s top five leagues last season. That lack of rotation eventually seemed to pay, as Bayern finished runners up in three tournaments; the domestic league and cup, and a shock Champions League final defeat on penalties at their home ground to Chelsea.
To counter that, Mario Mandzukic and Xherdan Shaqiri have come in, adding alternatives up front to Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Behind them, Bastian Schweinsteiger has a replacement in Javi Martinez should he be absent, as he was for a short spell at the start of 2012, which led to the loss of some crucial points in the title race.
It all amounts to a fascinating title duel between Germany’s big two teams. It is hard to see beyond them but both are strengthening and both look particularly strong. It is hard to find a weakness in either side, with the depth in both squad’s impressive. Perhaps a reliance on Mario Gomez’s goals could be a weakness for Bayern, but they have so many attacking talents. Whilst for Dortmund, they too will hope that Lewandwoski can remain injury free, but again, the number of attackers they have who can provide crucial goals, from Goetze to Ivan Perisic and Reus, is impressive.
It makes for another potentially thrilling title tussle between Germany’s traditional giant, and the upstart threatening to join them as a permanent part of the country’s footballing elite.