Bayern Munich’s long reign at the top of the Bundesliga table has caused fans to cry out for a consistent title race in Germany’s top flight ever since the turn of the century.
Out of the last 19 seasons, Bayern Munich have lifted the Meisterschale on 13 occasions, with Borussia Dortmund sitting in second place with just three league titles, ahead of SV Werder Bremen, VfB Stuttgart and VfL Wolfsburg’s one-off campaigns.
Although some fans are starting to dream that Bayern Munich will be denied a seventh straight league title this season, there are still some lingering questions about Borussia Dortmund’s form having any kind of longevity.
The Black and Yellows yo-yoing through European football’s hierarchy is nothing new for fans at the Westfalenstadion, but the current group of players could be about to cement themselves in the history books as a generation-defining side just like Bayern Munich over the last decade, or Borussia Mönchengladbach during the 1970s.
Before you can even touch on Borussia Dortmund, however, we first need to look at Bayern Munich’s decline, which is on the cusp of being widely called a crisis.
As much as they don’t want to admit it, the makeup of the Bavarians’ dressing room is all over the place. The reigning champions have a mixture of players who are so far past what they used to be that even the league’s relegation fodder wouldn’t touch them, alongside youthful players who for one reason or another don’t have enough experience under their belts.
Added to that are the likes of Mr Bayern Munich, Thomas Müller. The 29-year-old has become stale at the Allianz Arena and desperately needs a change of scenery, something which is highlighted best by his goalscoring statistics this season.
Robert Lewandowski, Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels and Manuel Neuer can also be mentioned in the same breath as Bayern Munich’s Raumdeuter as players who could benefit from leaving Bavaria.
Perhaps most concerning for Bayern Munich is their managerial situation. The largely inexperienced Niko Kova? is coming up against a dressing room of gigantic egos and as things stand the Croatian is fighting a losing battle.
The 47-year-old, who rose to prominence as a head coach with the Bundesliga’s underdogs, is also appearing to find Bayern Munich’s hierarchy – namely sporting director Hasan Salihamidži?, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and president Uli Hoeness – too much to deal with, a key reason in Thomas Tuchel’s decision to reject that specific job.
There isn’t a quick fix for Bayern Munich either, as major changes need to take place which will take time to implement.
Meanwhile, over in North Rhine-Westphalia, Borussia Dortmund have already got the foundations in place to build a squad that can dominate in Germany’s top flight for years to come.
Their youngest stars are getting regular game time and are ready to step in at any moment when the club’s veterans need to rest, while first team talents like Roman Bürki, Manuel Akanji, Thomas Delaney and Paco Alcácer aren’t even in what many would consider being in their prime.
Jadon Sancho’s rise at the Westfalenstadion will also only encourage more of Europe’s brightest players that they can make a career for themselves with Borussia Dormtund.
With head coach Lucien Favre, Borussia Dortmund have a manager who has quickly got his squad to buy into his philosophy and has a track record of getting the best out of players who normally wouldn’t be considered as world beaters.
There is certainly a power shift happening in the Bundesliga right now, with more and more fans now backing Borussia Dortmund to lift the title this season ahead of Bayern Munich.
However, German football’s shift could last well beyond the 2018/19 campaign, and Bayern Munich’s decline could even see them slip below the likes of RB Leipzig or TSG Hoffenheim for the next generation of supporters.