As the 2019/20 Bundesliga season approaches, football fans around the world will be asking themselves if this is the year that Bayern Munich’s title-winning run will come to an end?
Bayern claimed a seventh consecutive Bundesliga title – a club and league record – back in May, but it wasn’t as plain sailing as it has been in years gone by. A late surge from the Bavarians saw them overtake Dortmund in the dying stages, winning the league by just two points at the close.
Heading into the new campaign, it seems that Borussia Dortmund have bridged the gap to once again challenge for the Bundesliga crown, but will they be able to dethrone Niko Kovac’s men in the coming nine months?
Click here to find out when the rest of our 2019/20 Season Outright Predictions will be released.
German Bundesliga Winners Prediction: BORUSSIA DORTMUND
2018/19 Finish: 2nd Place
Top Scorer: Paco Alcacer (18)
You don’t have to be familiar with the Bundesliga to know that there aren’t often many reasons to bet against Bayern Munich, but we think if there’s any year to do so, this is the one. Bayern took a risk in hiring the relatively inexperienced Niko Kovac at the start of last season – his managerial credentials only went as far as two mid-table finishes and a DFB Pokal win with Eintracht Frankfurt, after all – and had the Bavarians not clinched the domestic double in the final few weeks of last term, someone else may well have been in his position right now. Needless to say, Bayern had a rocky season by their standards, and they go forth into the new one without veterans Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben, who have been key components of the team over the past ten years.
Dortmund, meanwhile, came leaps and bounds in their first season under Lucien Favre, and though they couldn’t keep a hold on the nine-point lead they had established over their league rivals in January, it was a huge statement that showed they were back in business. And business is what they’ve been doing over the summer. Dortmund have made some very promising signings, bringing in an experienced defender and leader in Mats Hummels to address some defensive issues, while also adding exciting talent in younger players like Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard to their already impressive cast, which includes Marco Reus, Mario Gotze, Jadon Sancho and Bundesliga record-breaker Paco Alcacer to name just a few.
Compare that to Bayern Munich’s own squad and you can start to see why Borussia Dortmund look like a good bet. Niko Kovac may still have the service of the ever-dangerous Robert Lewandowski and Raumdeuter (the so-called interpreter of space) Thomas Muller, but wingers Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman are their only other notable attackers given the departure of ‘Robbery’ and Real Madrid-loanee James Rodriguez. As such, this may be quite a transformative year for the Bavarians as they attempt to integrate a lot of younger talents, such as 19-year old Jan-Fiete Arp, who they signed from Hamburg in June.
Der BVB have never looked more ready to give Bayern Munich a run for their money, but for those that want something a bit safer, backing them to be the best team in the Bundesliga without Bayern Munich also seems a reasonable price. Dortmund’s second-place finish last season saw them finish 10 points above third-place RB Leipzig and 18 points above the rest of the field. As they’ve only strengthened since then, it’s hard to find a reason against this not repeating itself.
We’ve picked Borussia Dortmund as a team to watch in our early Champions League 2019/20 predictions. Find out why here.
Top Finish in Top 4: BAYER LEVERKUSEN
2017/18 Finish: 4th Place
Top Scorer: Kai Havertz (17)
Bayer Leverkusen were one of the most exciting teams to watch last season after former-Dortmund manager Peter Bosz took over in December. Implementing a highly aggressive style of football, Leverkusen were frequently involved in five or six goal thrillers, sometimes on the bad end, in what can only be called a turbulent 18/19 season. Nonetheless, Bosz did manage to lead them to a fourth-place finish, and though they have lost a talent in the sale of Julian Brandt, there are still plenty of reasons why they’ll be up there challenging for a spot in the top four once again.
Last season’s race for fourth was one of the most open we’ve seen in the Bundesliga in years, so if we break down the competition, it’s easy to see why Leverkusen remain near the front of the pack. Hoffenheim have lost manager Julian Nagelsmann to RB Leipzig and sold a couple of key players, Borussia Monchengladbach are in a similar position after the departure of Dieter Hecking and Thorgan Hazard, Eintracht Frankfurt are yet to replace star forwards Luka Jovic or Sebastian Haller, and Schalke have a huge rebuilding project on their hands after their disastrous twelve months.
Leverkusen themselves have already reinvested some of that Brandt money in midfielders Kerem Demirbay and Nadiem Amiri from Hoffenheim, winger Moussa Diaby from PSG, and left-back Daley Sinkgraven from Ajax – all solid additions to the squad – and, for the statisticians amongst you, Leverkusen have also finished inside the Top 4 in seven of their last ten seasons too (70%). Going off all of that, the price on them to do so again looks very reasonable.
Top Goalscorer: TIMO WERNER
Club: RB Leipzig
Appearances (2018/19): 30
Goals per game: 0.53
While the final standings don’t show it, the Bundesliga golden boot was anyone’s for the taking towards the final third of the 18/19 season. As many as ten players managed to score 15 goals or more last term, with eventual winner Robert Lewandowski only bagging one goal in his last six outings. Timo Werner was one player in amongst the mix, ending the season with four goals in six games for 16 total and a joint eighth-place finish – not bad for a player who had three minor spells sidelined.
RB Leipzig, on the whole, were somewhat tame at times last season, but now they go into the 19/20 campaign in the hands of former Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann, who is notorious for his attacking football. Werner’s 16 goal tally last season might be six goals fewer than Lewandowski’s 22, but both players’ contributions represented roughly 1/4 of their team’s total goals, and should the Germany international thrive under a more offensive-minded coach, we can only expect more from him this time around.
Relegation: SC PADERBORN
2018/19 Finish: N/A
Top Scorer: Phillipp Klement (16)
Has any club had a wilder ride over the past few years than SC Paderborn? Back-to-back relegations from the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2. in 14/15 and 15/16 was close to being three-in-a-row after they only survived in the 3. Liga for the 16/17 season due to another club failing to obtain a license! Fast forward two years and Paderborn are back in the German top flight after consecutive promotions. Unfortunately for them, things don’t bode well.
Paderborn’s summer transfer business has so far consisted of selling their best players, including top scorer Phillipp Klement, and reinvesting in free transfers from lower league sides. Coach Steffen Baumgart, who is preparing for his first managerial stint in the Bundesliga, is therefore not only taking one of the weakest squads into the league in the 19/20 season, but he’s also trying to carve out survival in one of the toughest years to break in we’ve seen in a while.
Keep up to date with all the latest our German Bundesliga Predictions 2019/20 here.