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  • Rene Ramirez

Why 2023 is lining up for Borussia Dortmund to end Bayern Munich’s 11-year Bundesliga domination

- By Rene Ramirez

Germany’s top-flight football league is entering its final two months of play, with the best top-table parity in over a decade. The Bundesliga’s super-juggernaut, Bayern Munich, has set the standard for the league’s waning months to primarily highlight competition in the relegating teams’ fight to stay afloat, the battle for the remaining 5-6 European football spots, and whether or not Munich will win the league by a double-digit margin.

Occasionally, and by occasionally -- I mean once in the past decade -- has Die Roten truly been challenged, and that was in the 2018-19 season by Dortmund. Even in an “off” season, where Bayern finished with their lowest point total (78) in a seven-season span, their title run lived to see another year.

Three years -- and three Bayern titles -- later, Dortmund have three reasons for their prime position to take back the Bundesliga for the first time since 2012.

1.) Munich’s unprecedented struggles

Julian Nagelsmann -- now former -- Bayern manager has been sacked in a relatively surprising manner. It had been nearly 12 years, with the sacking of Dutchman Louis van Gaal, that a managerial change in Munich occurred so late in a season.

Unlike van Gaal, Nagelsmann had -- from an outsider’s point of view -- some benefit of the doubt, leading his team deep into to DFB-Pokal and UEFA Champions League, keeping the possibility of a Treble alive. Unfortunately for the 35-year-old manager, the standard set in Munich became overbearing.

With the appointment of former Dortmund manager, Thomas Tuchel, a fellow in-season sacking at the hands of Chelsea just 6 months ago, Bayern will have only two months to revert the Bundesliga back to their normal.

This leaves Dortmund with an advantage in continuity, however, with many in-season appointments, there exists the wild-card factor of a sudden winning boost as a result of a new locker room voice.

2.) New Year, New Schwarzgelben

Leaving 2022, the Schwarzgelben sat at sixth in the league table, nine points behind Bayern in first place. Furthermore, Dortmund ended the year having lost two straight matches (0-2 vs. VfL Wolfsburg) and (2-4 vs. Borussia M’Gladbach), leaving six points on the board.

Entering 2023, Dortmund has yet to lose a domestic game, winning nine straight by an average margin of 1.78 goals and earned themselves the top spot on the Bundesliga table, one point ahead of Bayern.

Their incredible form seemed to have taken a step back in their 0-2 loss to Chelsea in the Champions League and 2-2 draw to FC Schalke 04 -- who lies second last in the Bundesliga table. Unlike last year’s Dortmund, a 6-1 victory over FC Köln, exemplified their resilience in the face of struggle.

3.) Company AND Jude Bellingham

Since the start of the 2022-23 football season, Jude Bellingham has risen from a blooming domestic star to the most coveted midfielder in Europe. All at the age of 19.

In a quantifiable sense, Bellingham has a market price of €110.00m. Domestically, that’s the highest of any Bundesliga player. Internationally, that’s the highest for any midfielder and fourth of any position, two spots behind former Dortmund striker, Erling Haaland.

Much of the English youngster’s value growth can be attributed to his play in Qatar, where he stood out from a superbly talented England side in the World Cup. For Dortmund, his leadership -- which remarkably stands out the most for his age -- has been a fundamental part of his team’s success, earning him the captain’s band for several games. In a more overt sense, Bellingham’s world-class play has him ranked amongst the top midfielders in the world. Statistics further emphasize his ability as a two-way box-to-box presence:

- 2.21 Successful Take-Ons (99th percentile)

- 3.18 Att. Pen Touches (97th percentile)

- 1.84 Blocks (95th percentile)

Nonetheless, in a game of eleven, even a dominant midfielder can only carry a team so far. This is where the merging of the youthful play of Gregor Kobel, Karim Adeyimi, Nico Schlotterbeck, and especially breakout star Julian Brandt, along with the rock-solid dependency of veterans Marco Reus, Mats Hummels, and Raphaël Guerreiro, has proved pivotal.

Additionally, crucial goal-scoring moments from substitutes Youssoufa Moukoko and Gio Reyna have served as the difference in ties and wins, which become amplified in a season-long race with Bayern.

The balance of Dortmund, play and age-wise, will be immediately tested in the second leg of Der Klassiker at Allianz Area, April 1st. If Dortmund passes the April Fool’s test, Der BVB will be in the driver’s seat of their last push toward a Bundesliga title, and ultimately, the end of Bayern’s 11-year domination.

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