Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga dominance detracting domestic desire
After a six week Winter break the Bundesliga will finally resume as Pep Guardiola’s reigning German league champions aim to continue their dominant form and claim a third consecutive top-flight title.
The league leaders, 13/5 favourites to win the Champions League, are already an amazing 11 points clear at the top of Germany’s top-flight, ahead of second placed Wolfsburg and boast an extremely superior goal difference.
Guardiola’s German giants are on course to break their own record of having held a seven-point lead at the same stage last season, before being crowned domestic league champions for the 24th time, with seven games still left to play.
However, Bayern’s sheer dominance of the Bundesliga, along with a prolonged Winter break, may have had a negative effect on the club’s players and even league rivals.
Munich’s gap at the summit has demotivated their opposition, with Bayer Leverkuson’s director of sport Rudi Voller recently claiming the title has already been won.
“The gap to Bayern is never going to be closed again,” said Voller. “You can scout as well as you want, but you’re never going to get into a position where you can get even close to matching them. There are just worlds lying in between.”
Leverkuson currently sit in third place this term, a massive 17 points adrift of Munich, having lost narrowly to Guardiola’s side earlier in the season in a 1-0 defeat at the Allianz Arena.
Bayern, who overcame second division side Bochum with a comfortable 5-1 win in a warm-up friendly last week, have won the Bundesliga for the previous two campaigns, but their main title rivals have endured a dramatic fall from grace.
Borussia Dortmund have lost 10 of their last 17 games, dropping to 17th position and trailing Munich by an incredible 30 points. Jurgen Klopp’s side are level on points and goal difference with bottom team Freiburg, and face an almighty struggle to stay up this year.
Munich’s dominance in Germany has had a direct contribution towards Dortmund’s downfall, having snatched star players Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski from the Black and Yellows, and beating Klopp’s men 2-1 in November.
Although, their supremacy has had a backlash on some former talented members of Guardiola’s squad, with a host of top names looking elsewhere for regular action. The long Winter break has also persuaded players to ply their trade in different European divisions.
Xherdan Shaqiri, Toni Kroos, Mario Mandzukic and Pieree-Emile Hojberg are just some of Munich’s former men that have left the country this season, pursuing careers outside of the Bundesliga.
Superb Swiss star Shaqiri left to join Inter Milan on a season-long loan deal, and was critical of his time at the Allianz Arena, claiming a lack of game time forced his departure.
“I want to help Inter return to the top in Italy and in Europe. I hope that with this jersey I can return to win titles. I wasn’t totally happy at Bayern, I didn’t get much playing time,” said Shaqiri.
If Bayern’s success continues, as it is expected to, there is a risk of losing their brilliant boss Guardiola, with the Spaniard having recently refused to rule out a departure from Germany. The former Barcelona manager has 18 months left on his current contract and, having led Munich to Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup victories in his first season, may soon seek a new challenge elsewhere.
Not only have Bayern been a superior force in their domestic league, but the Bavarians have enjoyed huge success in European competitions in recent seasons, claiming the Champions League crown in 2013 as part of a historic treble.
Guardiola’s men are aiming to regain their grip on Europe’s top club competition this year, and their ferocious forward Thomas Muller is available at 40/1 to become the tournament’s topscorer.