After having taken a look at the Bundesliga final tables over the last two decades, one thing is clear: although it’s not impossible, it’s unlikely that any club outside the top six in last season’s competition will be in contention this season. In order to win the title five of those clubs will have to focus on being better than reigning champions and Champions League runners-up Bayern Munich.
Having won nine of the last twelve titles, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that Bayern are favourites and as Werder Bremen, Borussia Dortmund and Stuttgart have all won the competition since the turn of the century then those clubs are probably the biggest threat to Bayern’s recent dominance in Germany. Schalke – who finished second in 2009/10 – haven’t won a national title since 1958; Bayer Leverkusen have yet to win the title and haven’t really threatened the status quo since their ultimately disastrous season of 2001/02.
The first week of competition this season kicked off last Friday night, when Wolfsburg travelled to the Allianz Arena and almost stole a point from the reigning champions: only Bastian Schweinsteiger’s injury time winner seperated the teams.
Bayern can’t have been particularly impressed with how most of the competition performed the following day. Werder Bremen lost 4-1 at Hoffenheim despite taking an early lead with a Torsten Frings penalty; worryingly for Werder, all of their opponents goals came in a 23 minute spell in the first half. Two goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy gave Hamburg a 2-1 victory over Schalke, who had Benedikt Howedes sent off for a second bookable offence.
On Sunday, Stuttgart lost at Mainz and Bayer Leverkusen won at Borussia Dortmund; with four of last season’s top six losing on opening weekend, Schweinsteiger’s winner may prove absolutely invaluable in the long run.
Elsewhere, the bookies favourites to go down both lost at home to the clubs that were promoted from Bundesliga 2 last season: Koln lost to last season’s second tier champions Kaiserslautern and Freiburg lost at home to runners up St. Pauli.
Round 2 starts with Bayern’s second consecutive Friday night game: they travel to Kaiserslautern for the first time since the end of the 2005/06 season, which was also the last game the hosts had played in the Bundesliga until last weekend. Despite being one of two games featuring teams that won their opening game, it’s worth remembering that Kaiserslautern haven’t beaten Bayern at the Betzenburg since April 1999 and have only scored once against the visitors in their last seven meetings in Rheinland-Pfalz.
The only other game that features two teams that won their opening game is between St. Pauli and Hoffenheim, but arguably the game of the weekend is the last one before the international break. It may be far too early in the season to call the game between Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund a six pointer, but neither side can afford to lose two in a row; unfortunately for die Borussen they’ve lost six of their last ten visits to the Mercedes-Benz arena and five of their last ten away games in the Bundesliga so their chances don’t look particularly good at time of writing.
If you’re looking for some betting tips for this weekend’s games in Germany, then it may be worth backing Schalke to beat Hannover and Werder Bremen to beat Koln but my recommendation would be backing more than 2.5 goals in Wolfsburg’s game against Mainz. Only one of Wolfsburg’s last 20 home games in the Bundesliga has been under 2.5 goals and the last six games between these two at the Volkswagen Arena have produced an average of five goals. However, if transfer rumours are to be believed, this might be one of the last games that Edin Dzeko plays for the Wolves before moving to Chelsea, which would mean the end of both his highly productive goalscoring partnership with Grafite and Wolfsburg’s amazing goalscoring streak.