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BUNDESLIGA – Bayern – Dortmund, a crossover of illusions

We have, it must be conceded, checked in the dictionary. Eightfold, ninefold, tenfold, easy. But after ? What if Bayern, defending champion in the Bundesliga for ten years, kept the trophy at the end of the season which is beginning? He would then be, we confirm it, ten times reigning German champion. Many, and not least, would like to believe otherwise.

As summer approached, Lothar Matthäus, for example, expressed doubts about the continuation of Bavarian rule. “Bayern will not win more than three championships in the next five years“, prophesied the 1990 Ballon d’Or. “I’m confident Bayern’s reign will come to an end within three years“, advanced in the same vein Hans-Joachim Watzke, the boss of Borussia Dortmund.

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Its players, Süle, Haller and Bellingham in the lead, speak publicly of the title. The long soap opera of the departure of Robert Lewandowski, finally snatched by FC Barcelona from the latter’s fourth offer – around fifty million euros, bonus included –, in mid-July, inevitably fueled the arguments of the competitors. How to replace an insatiable goalscoring machine, the man who broke Gerd Müller’s most famous record in 2021 – 40 goals in 34 matches in a league season?

The vigorous and early recruitment campaign of the great rival of the Ruhr, Borussia Dortmund, could also constitute an argument in favor of an end to the Bavarian reign. The four internationals Nico Schlotterbeck, Niklas Süle (for central defence), Karim Adeyemi and Sébastien Haller (for attack), plus Cologne defensive midfielder Salih Özcan, viscerally hostile to defeat, were pace.

Alas, at the end of July, the announcement of the tumor in the testicles of the Ivorian threw a huge chill on the yellow and black troop then in pre-season training in the sweltering Bad Ragaz, on the borders of Graubünden. Haller, subject to a recovery whose chances are fortunately real, will not reappear in the BvB jersey until 2023. Süle, for his part, suffered a muscle injury in the first round of the German Cup, on July 30, and will be absent for one of the clashes of the Bundesliga resumption, at home against Leverkusen on August 6.

Sadio Mané

Credit: Getty Images

Sammer: “Maybe I’m a killjoy…”

Long before these annoyances, club adviser Matthias Sammer had already alerted, in the columns of the bi-weekly kicker at the beginning of July, against an excessive euphoria, explaining at the same time the failure of the Yellow and Black to seek the title over the last decade. “We need to improve team spirit and consistency“, judged the 1996 Ballon d’Or, speaking as much of the staff as of the players.

Borussia Dortmund must, in the future, place the theme of the culture of performance at the center of its thinking, work on it, show stability. And not just when the sun is shining. We need to improve this“, he formulated. “I may be a killjoy but we have to work harder on ourselves. We must learn that what is good is not enough when it is possible to do better.And to conclude:You have to give the opponent the feeling that Borussia Dortmund never give up.“Exactly what has been the strength of … Bayern Munich for decades. Easy to say.

This famous “winning culture” is it happening overnight? Can Marco Reus and Mats Hummels do more in leadership, on and off the pitch? Can new coach Edin Terzic, renowned for his human qualities, transform a troop of dilettantes in a close-knit and mentally solid group?

‘Dortmund fans are starting to get annoyed’: The limits of Borussia’s politics

Sammer would like to see, around Reus and Hummels, a strong axis being formed with Kobel, Schlotterbeck or Bellingham, all three of whom performed well last season in their respective clubs. Jürgen Kohler, another 1990 world champion, even believes that with the arrival of Süle and Schlotterbeck, the objective displayed by Dortmund can only be the title. “Fine words don’t earn a point”retorts Watzke.

The concept, the capital, the skill, all this means that Bayern’s dominance will remain.”, echoes the former boss of Bayer Leverkusen Reiner Calmund. The famous constancy after which everyone is running, in vain, to catch up with the Munich residents. “If we keep up the momentum, we should be able to win the title by 2032“, quips Oliver Mintzlaff, the boss of RB Leipzig, slapped 5-3 at home by Bayern during the German Super Cup on July 30. “For that, we need solid performance and consistency. A perfect season from the first day to the last.“By retaining its best elements this summer, in the forefront of which are Christopher Nkunku and Dani Olmo, the Saxony club has at least put its money where its mouth is. From there to making it a favorite for the title…

Mats Hummels

Credit: Getty Images

Borussia’s chances? None!

Because bathed in its culture of success, Bayern is no less renewed. Säbener Strasse, the leaders understood that after ten years of title(s), it was necessary to “fresh blood“, in the words of the new president Oliver Kahn. Landed from Liverpool for around forty million euros (including bonuses) thanks to the relentless courtship of sports director Hasan Salihamidzic, the Senegalese Sadio Mané, who can play in the axis, whatever happens will revitalize the competition between Kingsley Coman, Leroy Sané and Serge Gnabry – the latter said to himself “relievedof the extension of his contract until 2026.

The Dutchman Ryan Gravenberch, from Ajax, will not only compensate for the departure of Corentin Tolisso, but also the temporary absence of Leon Goretzka (knee operation this summer for an absence estimated at 6 to 8 weeks), and offer to Marcel Sabitzer a new challenge to win in this sector, if the Austrian stays. The arrival of the Moroccan from Ajax Noussair Mazraoui, free, will boost competition for Benjamin Pavard, or even compensate for his possible departure.

And that of Lewandowski constitutes, in this logic of aggiornamento, an accelerator: for Julian Nagelsmann, who asks only that, this emblematic transfer in fact offers a greater tactical range, greater mobility, greater capacity for movement and pressing. Everything he always developed in Hoffenheim then in Leipzig when he officiated there. Except that here, the pressure, especially this season, will be much stronger.

The chances of Borussia overtaking Bayern at the end of the season? None!“, summarizes without hesitation a colleague close to the BvB. “Even with Haller, I would have said that. All the more reason without … The Bavarians, by investing significantly more than Dortmund, have once again increased the gap with their competitors. And it is not the departure of Lewandowski that will change anything.That of Erling Haaland, on the other hand, could be more difficult to hide for Dortmund with the only Youssoufa Moukoko (17) in this position awaiting the return of Haller, despite the many other attacking options available to Terzic.

Better than Klopp’s Liverpool

There remains, in Bavaria, the question of defence. Bayern were more affected by the departure of David Alaba than they would have liked to admit. The Austrian led the defense with charisma, chest and voice high. He left for Real and immediately won the Champions League there for the third time, leaving a gaping hole in the Munich rearguard. Bayern thought they could fill the latter by opening their portfolio – €42.5 million to attract Dayot Upamecano after spending nearly double that for Lucas Hernandez – but, so far, that hasn’t been enough. Today, the Bavarian leaders and their coach claim to want to make young Matthijs de Ligt, 22, whom they have been courting since 2019, the new chief of defense.

Why Bayern won’t miss Haaland

If his performance of immeasurable slowness, at the end of July in the Supercup against Leipzig, is not enough to drape him in doubts, the question of his maturity and his relative inexperience nevertheless arises. Admittedly, Barry Hulshoff, who died two years ago, was an ideal mentor for him – the Ajax stopper had won three consecutive Champions League from 1971 to 1973. Admittedly, de Ligt spent three seasons at Juve after having worn the armband at Ajax and started in the national team so early that you have to go back to 1945 to find such youth in the Oranje. But, in Italy, he frolicked with Chiellini or Bonucci at his side and that did not allow him to find a constancy, however very useful in this position.

Even for Bayern, the 2022-2023 financial year is a gamble. Simply more measured than for its competitors, means oblige. “For their opponents, Bayern will be even more unpredictable“, outlines the head of the football section of Sport Bild Christian Falk.His system of play is reminiscent of Jürgen Klopp’s style at Liverpool. Bayern reminds me of a new Liverpool, de Ligt being able, as head of defense, to take on the importance of a van Dijk. The group is not only better than last season, it is better than Klopp’s Liverpool.

237 millions, De Ligt, Mazraoui : Pavard en danger au Bayern ?

In Dortmund, while they don’t claim to be better than the original, they are nonetheless intensely inspired by Bayern, although they claim the opposite. Hummels and Süle played there. Assistant coach Peter Hermann officiated there. Also Matthias Sammer. BvB, as Bayern do regularly, have increased their recruitment”German quality”, enlisting five players from the country, which had not happened to him since 1998. And on long-term contracts (2026 for some, 2027 for others), to seek the famous continuity which he lacks so much to compete. With Harry Kane in sight for 2023, Bayern are also looking to the horizon. But he is one step ahead: by winning the Supercup at the end of July, he already has a trophy in his cupboard this season…

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Suffering from a malignant tumor in the testicles, Haller absent “several months”

07/27/2022 At 14:11

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