Bayern Munich will face stiff competition to hold on to their Bundesliga title in the face of expected challenges from Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig in 2019/20, but rule out Niko Kovac's men at your peril.
bundesliga.com presents five compelling reasons why Bayern can defend their title – again…
1) Title pedigree
It's no secret that Bayern are the most decorated club in German football, yet their hunger for silverware never seems to subside. Last season, they showed another dimension by clawing back what was at one stage a nine-point deficit to deny Borussia Dortmund what would have been their first title since 2012.
With BVB expected to push them close again this season, Bayern can draw even greater belief from the fact they are not only masters of leading from the front – wrapping up their previous six titles with a minimum of three games to spare – but can also use their rivals' slipstream to gain momentum when it matters.
Watch: Bayern's 2018/19 title celebrations
2) Robbery replaced
One of the main concerns about a side who win over and over again is what happens when the time comes to renew the squad. Any fears about a transition period have proved unfounded, however, as Bayern started planning for and bedding in replacements for the retiring Arjen Robben and departing Franck Ribery, who had both defined a success-filled era, well in advance of the end of the 'Robbery' reign.
With Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry, Bayern need not worry about where the goals and assists will come from wide areas this season, while Alphonso Davies is waiting in the wings for when his time comes.
Watch: Robbery - all their goals and assists from 2009 to 2019
3) Bolstered back line
Bayern conceded more goals last season – 32 – than they had in any other season in almost a decade, right back to when they shipped 40 when finishing third in the 2010/11 season. Understandably, this was the area they felt needed strengthening this summer and, with the arrivals of World Cup winners Lucas Hernandez from Atletico Madrid and Benjamin Pavard from VfB Stuttgart, they have done just that.
Mats Hummels may have returned to Dortmund, but Kovac appears to have the right balance of youth and experience at the back, with Niklas Süle growing into a true leader last term.
4) Lewandowski's STILL the best in the business
Just consider Robert Lewandowski: the Poland striker is a BIG reason why Bayern have been able to extend their dominance down the years, and his goals were absolutely crucial to overhauling Dortmund during the latter part 2018/19. Lewy was on a modest (at least by his standards) ten goals and even trailed Eintracht Frankfurt’s Luka Jovic in the scoring charts at the halfway stage.
Yet he managed to rattle off 12 in his last 17 matches, securing eight wins and rescuing a potentially priceless point against Freiburg. His goals reclaimed his and Bayern's position at the summit and earn the Pole yet another Torjägerkanone. A fit and firing No.9 might ultimately be what separates the champs from the challengers.
Watch: ALL 22 of Lewandowski's goals from 2018/19!
5) Kovac's proven calibre
There may have been a few raised eyebrows when Kovac was named as the successor to Jupp Heynckes after his fourth stint at the club had ended with another Bundesliga title, yet the Croatian's DFB Cup final triumph with Eintracht Frankfurt over Heynckes' Bayern was as clear an indication as they come that he had what it takes to succeed.
His first season in arguably the toughest job in German football was not without its travails, but he showed resilience, determination and, ultimately, the winning touch when it mattered to lead Bayern to a domestic double, taking him onto three trophies in two seasons. Emboldened by that first year in the hottest of hotseats, Kovac will be even more determined to succeed again.