Bayern Munich has won 6 consecutive Bundesliga titles, racking-up 3 DFB-Pokal trophies in the same stretch. The top German league has not been won by any team other than Bayern Munich since a season that began during President Obama’s term.
President Obama’s first term, that is.
Der FCB cannot be handicapped in conventional terms. The free-spending entities that support Europe’s pricier soccer clubs have created a new reality. Bayern will be a tremendous team as long as it wants to be, and there is no natural reversion-to-parity that can hold it back.
But there is an upstart, an old antagonist resurrected, on the brink of challenging the Bavarians for Bundesliga domination this season. It is Borussia Dortmund, a club that beat Bayern back in November and is holding a solid lead in the table with 4 months’ worth of matches left.
Can Dortmund hold on? High-rollers seem to be expecting the Black and Yellows to end the Bayern reign. That is interesting since the squad is not just trying to best an elite soccer team. It is trying to overthrow an empire.
When All Trends are a One-Way Street
If you are a little unclear on European club soccer to begin with, blame clubs like Bayern Munich and PSG, who make a lot of big-time club leagues dreary.
Paris Saint-Germain is currently at (-100000) odds to win the French league. That is with dozens of matches and months of football left to be played. The club’s prime “rival” (if you want to call it that) is Lyon (+15000), and the truth is that Lyon does not stand a cross-examined-by-Charles-Loughton chance.
If the sportsbook offered decent odds on the field vs PSG, say, 120-to-1, I might urge for the long-shot wager. A rash of injuries, suspensions or phase-outs could always occur. Neymar could get hurt doing floor gymnastics after fouls.
But it is not just that a few select well-funded clubs are gobbling up most of the best talent for the most appearances. The grueling format of European soccer also helps the big-shot teams. No elimination brackets – no chance to fall in the “postseason.” Just an objective measurement of form over a big sample of fixtures.
The Premier League is blessed with many great clubs, which often wind up battling over the title in real-time across more than one stadium on the final Matchday. The result is almost always high drama. But when an elite club like Bayern Munich earns a 34-match sample size in which to prove itself against lesser lights, it usually does.
Rulers of the Pitch
Even when compared to Paris Saint-Germain’s astounding ability to ward-off fellow contenders, the Bavarians come out shining, having won 6 titles in a row while PSG slipped-up in 2017 to merely win 5 out of 6. And it is not as if Bayern does not have a rival in Dortmund. The victory laps occur because the rest of Bundesliga is so unable to test the reigning champs that the squad totals too many points to be defeated. Dortmund is less efficient at winning the matches it is supposed to win.
Led by Mario Mandžukić and a young Thomas Müller, Bayern overwhelmed all-comers in 2012-13 and won the Bundesliga title by 25 points. Robert Lewandowski emerged for Dortmund the following season, but no matter – Bayern ended the spring with 7 more 90+ minute victories than BVB.
Lewandowski defected to Munich 2 seasons ago, and no runner-up has been within single-digit points of the club in any of its 6 most-recent championships.
Schalke 04 crept up to finish 2nd last season, but that just goes to show how thin Bundesliga can get at times. Schalke 04 is likely about to become “Schalke 0-4” when the Royal Blues face the Sky Blues of Manchester City in the impending Champions League Round of 16.
But not only does it appear that Bundesliga is a 2-club race in 2019, Bayern Munich is behind in the standings and presently an underdog on futures betting pages.
The Odds and the Squads
MyBookie (and likely your bookie) is favoring Dortmund to triumph by season’s end. The old club is currently 6 points clear of Bayern Munich on the Bundesliga table after 17 matches, with 17 matches to go. In the club’s most recent outing, spectacular Marco Reus started in a familiar spot as attacking midfielder behind striker Paco Alcácer and scored the winner in the early moments of the 2nd half.
BVD showed weakness in the previous outing against Fortuna, in which the fortunes of the favorites took a tumble. Alcácer scored in the late-going but it was not enough as the attack could not solve Michael Rensing of Flingeraner. It amounted to an unnerving 1-2 loss.
But nevertheless, the Vegas odds for Bundesliga champion paint a clear line in the sand – gamble on the traditional favorites at (+110) or the current favorites at (-140).
Perhaps it is November 10th that is still foremost in everyone’s mind. That is the date that Dortmund hosted Bayern Munich at Westfalenstadion and won 3-2, Reus scoring twice to help prevail over Lewandowski’s tallies for the visitors.
I would hope that this early in the season; bettors are still looking at talent discrepancies and not simply placement on the table. Bayern has a decent goalkeeper of its own (to say the least) in Manuel Neuer. Lewandowski and Müller make the squad as strong up the middle as you will find anywhere in the Premier League, and defenders like Niklas Süle are obstinate to play against.
Bayern has been playing in a lot of grudge matches with red cards flying sideways, but when the players are allowed to run freely, good things are happening on the attack.
The Bavarians beat Hannover 96 on the road 4-0 in mid-December, and talented winger Franck Ribéry scored twice to lead the team to another triumph in its final 2018 match headed into a long break in league play.
Final Thoughts and Bundesliga Handicap
I like the Black and Yellows lots under manager Lucien Favre, but much can happen over 17 matches. There are not too many chances to bet on a superior club with 5 defended titles in a row without getting a minus-payout line. Bayern is a nice pick at (+110).
Nevertheless, feel free to wait and watch the odds over time. I am thinking that when the clubs meet at Allianz Arena on April 6th, Dortmund may be just ahead enough on points to give the team an illusion of advantage headed into the showdown.
That will play havoc with futures odds and moneylines, and open up new betting opportunities on the true favorite Bayern Munich.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.