Betting markets give Borussia 53.5% chance to win the league which is a fair assessment, but does that make them favourites? Yes, but it’s far from a “sure thing” and let’s check why.
When we talk about the Bundesliga, the name Bayern Munich usually comes to mind, which is a fair connection, as they have won the league 27 times in the 56 years since the league was established. To put it into a perspective, Bayern Munich has mathematically won the title of German champions almost every 2nd year in addition to winning 6 straight titles (2013-2018). It goes without saying Bayern Munich are a dominant team in their domestic league but every once in a while, another team threatens to take the title from them. This season that is no other than Borussia Dortmund, who have bested Munich in 2011/12 season when they finished 8 points above their rivals.
The league is in its 2nd half, with teams already finishing 19 out of 34 games, and despite the fact we have 15 more games to go, the time has come to ask ourselves, who will end up the champion and will it be Borussia? To answer that question, we must check what works in favour of Borussia and how can Bayern Munich close the gap.
Marco Reus has been a key player in Dortmund since 2012 when he arrived at the club. In his 229 appearances for Borussia Dortmund, he has scored 111 goals and added 73 assists. While his injuries were a big part of his career, which prevented him from being even better than he is, Reus is seemingly fit and healthy this season. Since the departure of Sahin, Sokratis, Weidenfeller and Aubameyang, he has become the “mascot” of the Borussia side and he justifies that with his spectacular performances. At the moment, Reus is the 2nd best scorer in the Bundesliga (12 goals) in addition to having 4th most assists (7) in the league. It’s fair to say if there is any player in Borussia to help them achieve the title it will be Marco Reus.
To be fair, it’s not only Reus that is dangerous. Borussia has one of the best attacks in the league with 50 goals scored in the span of 19 matches. While Reus contributed 12 goals, there is also Paco Alcacer who scored just as many and already has a hat trick match behind him. The 3rd and 4th best scorers for Borussia are Jadon Sancho and Axel Witsel who can be just as potent as Reus and Alcacer if given an opportunity. Currently, the most valuable player in the Bundesliga Jadon Sancho has become irreplaceable in the Borussia squad. With his exceptional performances, his value has skyrocketed to 70 million €. His speed and excellent passing skills have been a big factor in Borussia success this season. Combining all that together it would be hard to deny this is the best-attacking formation since Lewandowski, Aubameyang, Reus and Mkhitaryan formation they had in the “Jürgen Klopp era”.
Borussia has not only got an exceptional attack on their side, but also “history”. Let me elaborate. Looking back at 2010/11 season, when Bayern Munich were not fairing too well in the Bundesliga the champions were no other than Borussia Dortmund. Yes, Bayern have managed to climb back to the 2nd spot with a 7-game winning streak as of January 30th after a mediocre start of the season when they were 6-3-3, but there are still 6 points in between the 2 teams. While the teams are only separated by 6 points, this might prove to be more than enough to keep Borussia at the top, however, a lot can change in the next 15 games. A simple mistake from either side could cost them a title, and there is a lot of room for mistakes in the span of 15 games.
As mentioned, Borussia Dortmund biggest strength is their attack, which is mostly the result of their incredibly fast players. On the top of the list of the fast players, there is no other than Marco Reus, who as expected has got the most goals and assists from fast breaks and counterattacks where he shines. Due to Borussia explosive players, the opposition defence usually has no time to reach or even catch up to them, which is clearly seen in their matches. But can Bayern Munich catch up to Borussia?
Borussia is a fan’s favourite, which is usually the case when the football giant is seemingly struggling against an “underdog”. When a team like Bayern Munich have their title threatened everyone jumps in and laughs at their struggles, which is a normal part of being a team of Bayern calibre. Sadly I will be the one who ruins the fun by saying Bayern Munich are actually doing well. Not only are they doing well, but are also catching up to Borussia, slowly but surely. The main thorn in Bayern Munich side is surprisingly Neuer. This world-class goalkeeper is not performing as well as he or his team would have hoped this season, conceding 20 goals in the span of 19 games. The injury he suffered last season might play a part here, or maybe it’s just a run of bad luck that is stopping him from playing like “himself”. Nonetheless, if he returns to his form, Bayern should be in an excellent position. If he doesn’t… well that could prove to be a problem.
Other than their goalkeeper problems, Bayern is looking good. Lewandowski is scoring goals, Thiago is still among the best midfielders and Robben with his 34 years of age still finds his way to the net. Comparing the 2 sides head-to-head Bayern is still a better side, but the real question is; are they good enough to close the gap of 6 points in the remaining matches? While they might win against Borussia Dortmund on April 6th, Bayern Munich will still need to find another 3 points somewhere else.
All in all, we are in for a thrilling 2nd half of the season, which might not be as thrilling as the famous 2011/12 Premier League season which was decided in the final minutes, but maybe the stars align once more, and we will get a chance to see yet another spectacular season finish, who knows?