Just like any of the big five leagues across Europe, winning the Bundesliga is no easy feat. The prospect of winning the title in Germany’s top tier is even more of challenge considering the vice-like grip Bayern Munich have had on German football over the past few decades. The fact that no team have managed to overthrow the Bavarians since the 2011/12 season goes to show just how much of a hold the 28-time Bundesliga champions have on the German division.
Last season, Borussia Dortmund came ever so close to repeating the coup they managed nearly eight years ago; falling just two points short of Bayern and pushing them right to the wire. Lucien Favre has received some criticism for the way his Dortmund side surrendered a title that was seemingly theirs after spending more than half of the season at the top, as well as opening up huge gaps between themselves and the defending champions, before ultimately being narrowly pipped at the post.
Many also argued that it was one of the weaker Bayern teams of recent times and that the title was Dortmund’s to lose, especially because of a depleted Bayern team that had the likes of ageing superstars Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery close to the end.
Dortmund looked to build upon their ever-so-close challenge last season, using it as a springboard to fight for the league again as they hoped to end the Bavarian dominance. They went about their business the right way, bringing in Bundesliga talents such as Nico Schulz, Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard in the summer for just a combined price of just under £70 million.
They also spent around £27.45million on bringing back former player Mats Hummels from Bayern, an experienced defender that was part of the famous squad that won the domestic double in 2012 – even reaching the final of the Champions League before being beaten by rivals Bayern in the Wembley final.
The business in the summer window provided optimism that this season could be the year Dortmund finally knocked Bayern off their Bundesliga perch. Now, they are just four points off the leaders once again.