Mats Hummels has welcomed Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga title challenge this season, describing the race for honours between current club Bayern Munich and his former employers as a "dream scenario" for fans.
Hummels lifted back-to-back titles with Dortmund in 2011 and 2012, and has since experienced both sides of Bayern’s subsequent grip on the Meisterschale, having returned to his boyhood club four seasons into their run of six successive league crowns.
A seventh would be an incredible achievement for the record champions, especially as they only reclaimed top spot from Dortmund at the start of March, recovering a deficit which stood at seven points as recently as 2 February.
"It’s great to have such an exciting title race," Hummels told German daily Sport Bild. "For the fans - the neutrals as well as supporters of the two clubs - it’s just brilliant."
Bayern’s return to the summit following a blistering run of six straight wins, in which the Bavarians plundered some 24 goals and conceded just four, did not last long, however. A stumble against Freiburg saw Bayern head into the final seven fixtures of the season with two points to make up on Dortmund, and Hummels knows Bayern cannot afford to drop any more points in the run-in.
"The two teams have incredible quality. The whole world will be watching. Everyone ill be fired up."
Hummels can expect to play a key role down the back straight, even if he hasn't been a regular starter this season. Competing for one of two central berths in the Bayern back four with Jerome Boateng and Niklas Süle, the 30-year-old has started 15 of Bayern's 27 Bundesliga assignments in 2018/19.
The record champions have also bolstered their defensive ranks ahead of the new campaign with the signing of French World Cup-winning duo Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez, with more new arrivals expected over the coming months.
"It's not always easy for new guys to come in, but my experience of Bayern is that they're always made to feel welcome and settle well," Hummels said. "We get on well in the dressing room, and it shows on the pitch.
"I've certainly never had a problem with competition. I just get on with it, and that's what I did when I was sitting on the bench. I don't think there are many players in my position I should be worried about."