Last season was the pivotal campaign for Bayern Munich, where they shook off their title as football’s ‘nearly-boys’ in emphatic fashion, winning the Bundesliga in record time, finishing 25 points above their closest rivals, Borussia Dortmund.
They also won the Champions League - a close fought encounter against (once again) Borussia Dortmund.
The Bavarians then capped off a record-breaking season a week later with a resounding 3-2 win over VFB Stuttgart.
Bayern Munich stars such as Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben shone, whilst surprise packages like Dante and Mario Mandzukic stormed into the first team, establishing themselves as crucial starters.
Their dominance looked set for years: securing Pep Guardiola’s signature, arguably the present day’s most finest trainer as well as the signing of Mario Gotze from fierce rivals Borussia Dortmund.
Buoyed by the signing of Thiago from Guardiola’s former club Barcelona, Bayern looked like the hottest property in Europe. But their pre-season performances indicate otherwise - and with an embarrassing 4-2 defeat to Dortmund in the Super Cup, this revolution could perhaps be short-lived.
While the Bavarians spent big with a net expenditure of £34m, Die Schwarzgelben adopted a more prudent transfer strategy with a net loss of just over €5m.
Bringing in names such as Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Sokratis with this little expenditure is a commendable feat, considering the potential and abilities of these players. In Mkhitaryan, Dortmund have a superb replacement for Gotze, with sublime technique and vision. With Aubameyang, a fast paced and dynamic attacker with divine finishing abilities and Sokratis a perfect back up to Hummels and Subotic.
While Guardiola has experimented with different formations and styles of play, Jurgen Klopp has refined his philosophy and driven it into his players, fabricating them into a well-oiled machine. Dortmund’s pre-season is living proof of that, where his players were highly disciplined and intelligent, peaking in their 4-2 defeat of Guardiola’s Bavarians.
There was no shortage of media speculation of what changes (if any) Guardiola would make to the team’s philosophy.
Most were of the opinion that Bayern had hit a winning formula, that any changes made by Pep would jeopardise that. So far, it seems that way. The double pivot of Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez that worked so well last term has been scrapped, as well as many changes throughout the forward line.
The addition of Thiago in an already star-studded midfield has divided football enthusiasts around the world, with some saying that would have a negative impact on the team’s morale.
However this may not be the case. Coming off a routine 3-1 win over Mönchengladbach, the Bavarians may start to settle down and play the way Guardiola wants without jeopardising the results they enjoyed last term.
However, we can only wait and watch the coming weeks of football, where stronger predictions can be made. Although, if I had to put money on any team in the Bundesliga, it would be on Borussia Dortmund.
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