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The four-way battle for the Bundesliga title

The Bundesliga could be in for an intriguing season finale, with six points separating first place Bayern Munich and fourth place Monchengladbach. Dortmund and RB Leipzig are sitting in the second and third positions, respectively, with four and five points behind Bayern Munich. This season’s Bundesliga title race is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and competitive in recent years.

 

 Bayern are still worthy favorites

Bayern Munich is chasing its eighth successive Bundesliga title but hasn’t been straight forward. The defending champions didn’t start the season well, leading to the sacking of Niko Kovac in November and replacing him with Hans-Dieter Flick. Since the appointment of Hans-Dieter Flick, the Bavarian giants are in fantastic form and full flow. Ten victories and one draw from their last 11 league games have taken them four points clear at the top. Bayern has been on fire this year and has only dropped just two points this year, an incredible turnaround from their horrid start under former manager Niko Kovac. Bayern still has the meanest defensive record in the league and the top scorer as well. Flick has also managed to re-integrate Thomas Muller and Jerome Boateng, both of whom looked to be on the way out of the Bayern door. Jerome Boateng, in particular, who was surplus to the requirement under former manager Niko Kovac has benefitted from Flick’s appointment, becoming a key player again. Robert Lewandowski has also scored more goals this season than in his previous seasons. Flick has done a great job of restoring Bayern’s identity as a team, and they certainly look like their old self. Bayern does have some tricky and banana slippery games on their hand against their bitter rivals Dortmund, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Union Berlin. They will travel to the Signal-Iduna Park to play second-placed Dortmund and also take on Union Berlin at the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei. They have become difficult opponents at home. With the game against Eintracht Frankfurt, they will be hoping to avenge the 5-1 humiliation they suffered that led to the sack of Niko Kovac. Although these three games look tough on paper, the gulf in squad class and depth between Bayern and this opponent are very clear. They are that much more productive, and their squad is much better. Bayern Munich looks favorite to retain the Bundesliga title barren any unforeseen circumstance.

 

Can Dortmund put the brakes on Bayern Dominance?

Dortmund will be hoping to clinch the Bundesliga since 2012. They are lying in second position with 51 points. Many pundits predicted Dortmund would win this season’s title after what they did last season. Manager Lucien Favre made some great signings in the summer transfer window, bringing in Thorgan Hazard from Monchengladbach, Julian Brandt from Leverkusen, and Mats Hummels from Bayern Munich with winter signings Erling Halaand from RB Salzburg and Emre Can from Juventus. These great additions have made many believe that Favre’s men are title favorites. Halaand has made a massive impression since joining Dortmund and could be the difference-maker in this season’s title race. Since his arrival, he has been scoring goals for fun over the past few weeks and has improved an already impressive looking Dortmund team. Dortmund does have some tricky games to play, but the biggest of all is Der Klassiker against Bayern Munich. Dortmund has beaten Bayern Munich on their last two visits to Signal Iduna Park, and if they can repeat that trick, then they are in for a real title chance.

Leipzig a force to be reckoned with

RB Leipzig is just in their fourth top-flight campaign, and this might be their year to win the Bundesliga title under Germany’s young prodigy Julian Nagelsman. Leipzig looks like the side that can break the Bayern monopoly but has dropped a lot of points after the winter break. Julian Nagelsman’s team was on top of the Bundesliga during the festive season but did not carry their momentum after the winter break. Despite being third on the League table with 50 points and trailing the league leaders by five points, they can still challenge for the Bundesliga title this year. Leipzig’s next three games are against teams in the top half of the table, and if they can safely navigate those teams, then we are in for a real title challenge.

 

Can Monchengladbach be the surprise package?

Monchengladbach is fourth on the Bundesliga table with 49 points and has defied expectations this season to stay in the title race. Manager Marco Rose has done a great job so far this season. Comparing the gulf in class between Monchengladbach and Bayern Munich, the league looks impossible for them, but they are genuine candidates to finish in the top four. Last year, Monchengladbach was on course to finish third but fell off in the final months of the campaign, finishing fifth. Although their exit from the Europa League may prove to be a blessing, Monchengladbach might drop off the pace because they still have some tricky games to play.

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