Borussia Dortmund on the brink of ending Bayern Munich's decade-long Bundesliga dominance

Bundesliga could have a different winner for first time since 2012 as season is set for thrilling finale

Borussia Dortmund players celebrate their win over Augsburg. EPA
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On the basis that earliest memories generally start at three-and-a-half years old, there are teenagers in Germany who will not recall a time when anyone other than Bayern Munich were Bundesliga champions.

For the first time since 2012, there is a chance of somebody else engraving their name on the champion’s shield. Fair to say, it is not just Borussia Dortmund fans who are hoping their side end Bayern’s monopoly on the title.

It has been the most dominant streak in the history of football in the country by a vast margin. Ten years, and still with a chance of extending it to more.

Dortmund have a two-point lead over the holders ahead of their home game against Mainz on Saturday. Bayern travel to Cologne, hoping their title rivals cut them a break by slipping up.

It is the only one of Europe’s big five leagues with a live title race going into the final weekend of the season. So, with everything on the line, surely the nerves will be racing for Dortmund?

“At home, we are never nervous,” Karim Adeyemi, the winger, said after their win against relegation-threatened Augsburg on Sunday left Dortmund on the brink of the title.

“If we play like we have in recent weeks, we have not lost one game, so why should we lose the last one?”

Most onlookers will find it hard to believe the players will be stress free, given the stakes. But Paul Lambert, the former Scotland midfielder who won the Champions League while a player with Dortmund, understands Adeyemi’s statement.

“I have never ever been to a Dortmund game and experienced any negativity in that stadium,” Lambert said.

“When I played there, and when I went to watch the guys [play], I never felt any negativity. If you give effort, the Dortmund crowd will love you until the day you leave the club.

“If they see you really trying, they expect that because of the city that it is. For me, that is why I think they will win it. I don’t think they will be nervy.

“I have spoken to some friends who live in Dortmund and they have said they are quite nervous. They don’t need to be because they are playing ever so well.

“Mainz come there with nothing to lose. Of course, there is that little percentage that it could happen, but I don’t see it happening, not the way Dortmund are steamrolling teams at the stadium at the moment.”

Dortmund’s surge since the Bundesliga returned after the World Cup has been remarkable. In the 18 games since, they have won 14, drawn three, and lost just once, scoring 56 goals in the process. In the same time, Bayern have scored 41.

The 45 points they have gathered are 10 more than RB Leipzig, who are third in the table, and 11 more than Bayern.

The turnaround has coincided with the return of Sebastien Haller, who was diagnosed with cancer last year.

“The recovery he has made has been nothing short of miraculous,” Lambert said. “He has been a revelation in the second half of the season.”

By contrast, Bayern’s fortunes have turned since Germany returned from their abject showing in Qatar.

Bayern Munich head coach Thomas Tuchel. EPA

Axing Julian Nagelsmann as coach and replacing him with Thomas Tuchel has done little to improve their form. In fact, Tuchel’s average of 1.55 points per game since taking over last month is inferior to that of his predecessor.

“For many people it was a big surprise to change the coach at this time,” Lothar Matthaus, the Bayern great, said.

“He was doing a good job. Last year he won the German title. Sure, the Champions League results were not so great. This season they won eight games in the Champion League, beat Barcelona twice, beat Paris Saint-Germain twice.

“They were perfect results in the competition. In the Bundesliga results were not perfect, but they were not far away from the trophy.

“When I heard the news I thought it was a joke message. It wasn’t even April 1. It was a decision from the club that maybe there was something behind which we don’t know about.”

Dortmund's match against Mainz and Bayern's encounter with Cologne will both be shown live on BeIN Sports in UAE.

Updated: May 26, 2023, 5:58 AM