For the supporters of “Die Roten,” the impeccable form that Bayern Munich are experiencing is nothing new. FC Bayern Munich enjoyed an amazing 2012-13 campaign which culminated in the club becoming the first German team to win a continental treble. The DFB-Pokal, Bundesliga, and UEFA Champions League winners have started the 2013-14 season without missing a beat. Over the summer offseason, Die Bayern bid farewell to retiring Jupp “Osram” Heynckes. Under the former Borussia Mönchengladbach player, Bayern had lifted 6 domestic titles and a UEFA Champions League in his 3 stints as manager. The 2012-13 season will most likely go down as one of Bayern Munich’s most memorable seasons, with the club wrestling back it’s domestic dominance and overcoming it’s Champions League demons, besting bitter rivals Borussia Dortmund.
For Bayern Munich the summer wasn’t all about departures- despite the Bavarians parting with Luiz Gustavo, Mario Gomez, Anatoily Tymoshchuk, and Nils Petersen, the club welcomed a few new faces also. One of the new faces to join the Bavarians is ex-Barcelona manager Josep “Pep” Guardiola. The former Blaugrana tactician turned his first senior management experience into what could only be described as a dream. Under Pep’s guidance, FC Barcelona amassed a sublime trophy haul of 14 out of a possible 17 titles and trophies. His tenure at the Camp Nou wasn’t without drama, Pep Guardiola ruthlessly parted with many high-profile overpaid players, and promoted many youngsters from his Barça B side. What most pundits will agree upon is that Guardiola was able to nurture and get the best out of Lionel Messi, allowing him to develop into arguably one of the best players the game has ever seen.
With Barcelona dizzying the football world with it’s fluid tiki-taka pass-orientated possession football, the Bayern board of directors took notice and made obtaining Pep Guardiola’s services their main priority last season. After a short and well deserved sabbatical, Pep Guardiola learned German, integrated a new tactical system, and welcomed in two of Europe’s most sought after youngsters; Borussia Dortmund’s €50m playmaker Mario Götze, and former FC Barcelona starlet Thiago Alcantara. With 12 matches played the “Stern des Südens” have tallied 34 of a possible 36 points, with only a 1-1 draw away to Bayer Leverkusen denying Die Roten from a perfect season thus far. This is a very impressive start for the club going through a regime change.
Whilst all are happy in Bavaria, one is to wonder whether Pep Guardiola has walked into a ready-made dynasty, or is he slowly building onto the blocks of another top Bayern side that will challenge the historical München sides of the past, as well as his previous record setting FC Barcelona team. With former Bayern greats Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Franz Beckenbauer, and Uli Hoeneß running the club, Pep Guardiola will have nothing short of top class executives helping to steer the team towards domestic and European dominance. Through the Bayern Board’s excellent transfer policy and youth system, the Munich side has slowly put together one of Europe’s most versatile and exciting squads.
Enter Borussia Dortmund, last season’s Champions League runners up and the previous German Bundesliga champions. If there is one domestic club to challenge Bayern Munich, “Die Schwartzgelben” are the squad to do it. The side from North-Rhine Westphalia has won 2 of the last 3 Bundesliga titles, 1 DFB Pokal, and a DFB Supercup. In Bundesliga play, manager Juergen Klopp and his Dortmund side have gained respectability again from the supporters in the Westfalenstadion for boasting a record of 4 wins, 3 draws, and 3 losses in “Der Klassiker” during his current 5 year stint. Like his counterpart at Bayern Munich, Jüergen Klopp is a young former footballer that has translated his successes as a player into senior management. Unlike Guardiola, Klopp started at a much smaller club with less pressure and attention. At Mainz 05, the squad played a very attractive style of football with the limited resources which were available but were still able to compete and turn out young excellent top level players. Klopp struggled early on but managed to qualify for European football, earning Mainz 05 a place in the UEFA Europa League.
Over the last few seasons, Jüergen Klopp and the board of directors at Dortmund have had to deal with the club transferring out some of the squad’s top talent to other Champions League teams (Nuri Sahįn, Mario Götze, Shinji Kagawa), thus showcasing Jüergen Klopp’s abilities of keeping his side at the top of Europe’s elite. Most evident, was Klopp’s ability to have his squad retain it’s fluid attack and masterful midfield play after star midfielder Shinji Kagawa’s €20m transfer to Manchester United FC. This season, Borussia Dortmund face the same task with creative midfielder Mario Götze completing a German record €50m transfer to rivals Bayern Munich.
With Die Borussen losing at home to Arsenal in a midweek Champions League match and an away loss to Vfl Wolfsburg, manager Juergen Klopp will be making sure his side gun for all 3 points against their Bavarian rivals. Winning this season’s first “Klassik” will put Dortmund 1 point behind Bayern or allow the Die Roten to have a commanding 7 point advantage into the Christmas break period. Bayern will be keen to have a healthy advantage and keep with their blistering form. The twenty-third of November can’t come any sooner.