By 90Min
August 05, 2019

With the transfer window slowly drawing to a close, the squads of each of Bundesliga's big two, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, as well as new contenders RB Leipzig, are beginning to take shape.

It has been a rebuilding transfer window for both Bayern and Dortmund as evidenced by the huge activity by both clubs this summer.

JOHN MACDOUGALL/GettyImages

RB Leipzig, on the other hand, have been more reserved, saving themselves for a couple of new acquisitions to complement their already strong and youthful squad. 

Which of these approaches will prove to be the most effective, and most importantly which of these sides is placed to win Bundesliga this season?


RB Leipzig

Strengths

Matthias Kern/GettyImages

Leipzig are viewed as outsiders for the title, and rightfully so considering the quality of the other two clubs, but they possess arguably the best manager in the Bundesliga in Julian Nagelsmann.

The German coach, only 32 years old, was heavily touted to join Bayern to replace Jupp Heynckes before opting for Die Roten Bullen instead. He is renowned for his tactical flexibility based around a philosophy of high pressing football.

However, his most impressive trait is his man-management as confirmed by his mantra: "Coaching is 30% tactics and 70% social competence."

Alongside the new managerial appointment, Leipzig have made some shrewd signings, most notably former Everton winger Ademola Lookman for £16m. The England Under-21 international had a rough season at the Premier League side, failing to get much playing time. 

Thomas F. Starke/GettyImages

The tricky winger had previously been loaned to Leipzig where he displayed his true quality, racking up nine goal contributions in 11 games. With Nagelsmann's usual direct style of play and use of wide players, Lookman will benefit hugely under the German's new system.

The 21-year-old will replace the outgoing Bruma, who disappointed in his time at Leipzig despite having great potential.

Another crucial signing Leipzig made was Christopher Nkunku from Paris Saint-Germain for £12m. The France Under-21 international was heavily linked with a move to Arsenal with his former PSG manager Unai Emery a big fan.

A very technically gifted player who was unable to make an impression in a stacked team, he will help Leipzig massively alongside creative players Amadou Haidara and Kevin Kampl.

With Nagelsmann wanting his midfielders to push up and wide to support the attackers and wing backs in order to create overloads, Nkunku has the perfect blend of technical skill and stamina to fulfill this role.

ROBERT MICHAEL/GettyImages

Nagelsmann likes to operate with three at the back and has two of the best young defenders in the world at his disposal. Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate are both France Under-21 internationals and are both capable of playing the centre back roles Nagelsmann requires.


When at previous club Hoffenheim, the young coach wanted his centre backs to play the ball forward from the back by passing or dribbling - an innate ability both Konate and Upamecano have. This is demonstrated by the fact Konate, who featured heavily last campaign unlike the injured Upamecano, had the highest dribble completion rate for a player above 15 dribbles.

With forwards Yussuf Poulsen and star striker Timo Werner, who contributed to 31 goals together last campaign, still spearheading the attack, Leipzig have a very complete and young squad to at least challenge the two German giants for the title.

Weaknesses

Ronny Hartmann/GettyImages

Despite the plaudits Julian Nagelsmann receives, he is still a very young coach and it is his first season at the club.

His renowned tactical knowledge will take some players by surprise and the coach has been well known to not use systems more than three times each, so adapting to Nagelsmann's ideologies will take a lot of time - something Leipzig will not have if they are to seriously challenge.

As aforementioned, the squad is extremely young - in fact, it's the youngest in the league with an average age of 22.8 years. This has its benefits, as younger players can learn new systems and different styles of play quicker and are more suited to the high octane pressing system that Nagelsmann likes to operate.

However, Leipzig's players and their coach don't have any experience of winning the Bundesliga, and that could prove to be crucial if a race between themselves and Bayern, seasoned in securing top flight titles, emerges.

As seen last campaign, Kovac came into the Bayern job with no experience of winning the Bundesliga and was heavily scrutinised, a process Nagelsmann can expect to go through alongside his players this time around.


Borussia Dortmund

Strengths

Christian Kaspar-Bartke/GettyImages

Der BVB have made a lot of great signings this summer as they look to seal their first Bundesliga title since 2012, having missed out by only two points last term.

After letting American wonderkid Christian Pulisic go to Chelsea for £60m, Dortmund wisely re-invested those funds into German wonderkid Julian Brandt from Leverkusen and Thorgan Hazard from Monchengladbach.

Nico Schulz was also brought in alongside fellow defender Mats Hummels from rivals Bayern Munich for a combined £50m.

Under coach Lucien Favre, Dortmund were extremely close to winning the league and at one stage had a nine point lead over eventual winners Bayern, but were unable to seal the deal and Favre will be hoping that the signings he has made can push them over the line.

Despite Brandt and Hazard probably being the most exciting signings, Hummels stands out as the most important. Last campaign, Dortmund cost themselves the title with inexperience and defensive errors at the back. With the German veteran now with the side, those issues can be dealt with and his great progressive passing is an added bonus.

In terms of where Hazard and Brandt fit, it is likely that Hazard will play out wide with Brandt occupying a more central role, a role in which he contributed 17 goals in 15 matches under former BVB manager Peter Bosz at Leverkusen.

Martin Rose/GettyImages

A key component of Dortmund's title challenge last year was Axel Witsel. Having transferred from China last season, he was seen as an extremely poor signing by the Dortmund faithful. However, his combative displays helped solidify their defence as he provided a cover to the back four and he also provided a creative presence allowing Dortmund to flourish in attack.

Manager Lucien Favre is a decent coach and overachieved in his first season at Dortmund, but unlike Nagelsmann he opts for a more conservative system and a more consistent lineup. This has helped Die Borussen as they are far tougher at the back and has allowed them to get one approach absolutely spot on.

Die Schwarzgelben's aces up their sleeve, however, are Jadon Sancho and club captain Marco Reus. Both attackers helped carry Dortmund's attack and received well deserved plaudits for their outstanding attacking output that was matched by their beautiful style of play.

With Sancho a year older and more experienced, Dortmund will be hoping the Englishman will be the deciding factor in the title race. Having contributed to 29 goals at only 19 years old, it is tough to replicate that form but the wonderkid's ability is on par with the likes of Mbappe so it is possible.

Weaknesses

Stuart Franklin/GettyImages

Last season, a huge weakness for the club was their lack of experience, as only a few players like Reus, Mario Götze and Marcel Schmelzer had been in the position for a title fight.

With the whole squad and the manager gaining experience and the addition of Mats Hummels to the side, it looks like it's no longer an issue.

Their away record last campaign was an issue though. Three losses and five draws away from home is not a good enough record to win the league, so Favre will have to find a way to set up his team to do better away from Signal Iduna Park.

Another huge problem is their injury record. With star player Reus famed for his injury struggles, Die Borussen have to find a way to keep their players healthy. At one point last season, Dortmund had their whole backline missing from injury, so they'll have to hope that luck is on their side.

Keeping Reus healthy is a huge priority, as without him the likes of Sancho, Götze and Paco Alcacer would not have had the seasons they did last term. He is the focal point of the attack and the leader of the dressing room, so missing him for a prolonged period of time could derail their chances of winning the league.


Bayern Munich

Strengths

CHRISTOF STACHE/GettyImages

What is there really to say about Bayern Munich? They're a gargantuan team and are heavily stacked in many positions. Their midfield talent pool is incredible with the likes of Thiago, Corentin Tolisso, Renato Sanches, Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez all contributing different qualities that could help Bayern succeed. And now, their talent pool in defence is amazing too.

The Bavarians have also strengthened in the transfer market with the additions of Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard for over £100m, forcing Mats Hummels to leave. Pavard, a former Stuttgart defender, is capable of playing at right back as well as his natural position of centre back, and has a great ability to find teammates with long-range passes.

Lucas is less of a ball-playing defender but comes from Diego Simeone's Atlético Madrid, and has been disciplined extremely well in the defensive end - Bayern's Achilles heel last season.

Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry heavily outperformed expectations last season and were very important players for the eventual champions as they had to replace injured stars Tolisso and Franck Ribery.

Full backs David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich were very impressive, especially the latter, who recorded the second-most assists, one behind Jadon Sancho's 14. His crossing ability and set-piece delivery were brilliant and helped Lewandowski win the Torjägerkanone. Kimmich versatility proved massively important as he played every minute, featuring at both right back and central midfield, much like his predecessor and Bayern legend Philipp Lahm.

PATRIK STOLLARZ/GettyImages

Star striker Robert Lewandowski refuses to lose form and yet again helped fire Bayern to the Bundesliga last term. The Pole is now 30 and his fitness will need to be monitored more intently, but he is renowned for being injury-free and usually rocks up in great shape.

However, probably the most important player in the squad is Thiago. The former Barcelona midfielder was exceptional and his complete performances in the middle of the park went somewhat unnoticed.

He kept Bayern ticking in and out of possession and it's almost like he finds it offensive to be pressed by opposition players, such is the quality he has to get past players. His tackling and interceptions numbers were once again sky high and underappreciated. The 28-year-old's blend of technical ability, flair and decision making has helped Bayern massively throughout his time at the Allianz Arena.

Weaknesses

Alexander Hassenstein/GettyImages

Bayern coach Niko Kovac is still not the best option for Die Roten, despite winning the domestic double last campaign. Huge question marks were raised after Bayern's form dipped last season and if something similar were to happen this time around it is unlikely that he will get the chance to rectify his mistakes.

His inability to handle big egos at the start of his tenure was exposed and with the signing of Leroy Sané seemingly on the horizon, he cannot afford to make the same mistakes. With his biggest admirer Uli Hoeness stepping down as Bayern president, Kovac has added pressure to perform as CEO Karl Heinz Rummenigge does not take failure likely.

Kovac's man-management was not the only issue - his inability to build a system that had a solid defence was also a big problem. It is quite unfair to blame this on him however, as most of the fault lay in the hands of Bayern captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Alexander Hassenstein/GettyImages

After returning from a devastating injury, Neuer was far from his best, conceding far too many goals that he would have stopped back in his prime. However, he has shown in pre-season that he looks to be back to the form that made him the world's best goalkeeper with some impressive saves and he has declared that he is now pain-free from the injury.

Die Roten also lack a few forwards following the departures of legendary duo Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, while they also opted against signing James Rodriguez. The deal for Manchester City winger Sane looks like it may happen but that still leaves Bayern with only three wingers.

With Kingsley Coman and Gnabry both relatively injury-prone, Bayern might need to secure another winger as Alphonso Davies might not be ready to step up and deliver assured performances on a regular basis.

With Thiago also quite injury prone, another midfielder - ideally a defensive midfielder - might be needed, with Javi Martinez also getting on. Spanish youngster Marc Roca from Espanyol has been heavily linked with a move to Bayern to fill that role, so Bayern clearly know their weaknesses too.


Conclusion

Alexander Hassenstein/GettyImages

It's quite obvious, isn't it? Bayern Munich are without doubt in the best shape to win the Bundesliga this season. The sheer talent and depth of the squad combined with a number of very impressive signings gives Kovac a brilliant chance to retain the Bundesliga.

Dortmund could run Bayern close with their summer additions but they lack the depth that the Bavarians have which could prove costly, especially considering that they are both in the Champions League.

RB Leipzig could make a case but it looks like it's a year too early for their young squad and manager to challenge the two big clubs.

You May Like

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)