Just seven games into the 2019/20 season, Bayern Munich have their work cut out to retain the Meisterschale, as the Bundesliga leads the way with the tightest title race across European football’s top-five leagues.
After an intriguing start to the campaign, the international break arrives as somewhat of a nuisance for most, but it does give us a chance to take stock of what promises to be one of the most competitive campaigns the continent, let alone Germany, has ever seen.
Watch: Borussia Mönchengladbach trounce Augsburg to go top
It was an enthralling, nail-biter of a contest that ran the entire course of the season and seemed to capture the imagination of those around them as the battle for Europe likewise went the distance.
That competitive edge has carried over into 2019/20 and the league looks to be anyone’s, with the entirety of the Bundesliga’s top 12 separated by just eight points; from Hoffenheim in 12th and pace-setters Borussia Mönchengladbach in first.
Meanwhile, the English Premier League’s top-two are split by the same margin, with only La Liga’s eight point divide across 13 places offering a closer grouping in Europe’s remaining top five leagues.
Even in Spain it is those all-too-familiar faces of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid that make up the top-three, with two points the difference between Real and Barca in first and second. Compare that to the two-point gap from first and seventh in Germany and the respective title races start coming into focus.
It sharpens further still. Gladbach are in top spot for the first time since 2011 with the unbeaten Wolfsburg a point back in second after making their best start to a Bundesliga campaign in their history.
And Bayern may have won a record eight consecutive league crowns, but since 2003/04, only Valencia have broken that Spanish trio’s grip on La Liga, while Dortmund (10/11, 11/12), Wolfsburg (08/09), Stuttgart (06/07) and Werder Bremen (03/04) have all lifted the Meisterschale aloft during that time.
Watch: Highlights of Union's surprise win over Dortmund on Matchday 3
In Serie A, Juventus - also winners for the past eight successive years - have immediately installed themselves at the summit, while Paris Saint-Germain - champions six times in the last seven years - have done the same in France. In England, they look to be gearing up to crown new champions in the shape of former Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool who, once again, have ex-Bayern tactician Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City as their nearest challengers in familiar looking heads of the pack.
Yet in the Bundesliga a number of early upsets have proven that anyone can beat anyone on their day. No-one is safe; just ask last season’s top two.
Bayern discovered just as much on Matchday 7 as they were left shocked in defeat at the Allianz Arena to Hoffenheim, while Dortmund were stunned by Union Berlin - playing in the Bundesliga for the first time in their history - on Matchday 3.
The unpredictability only adds more intrigue to the standings, one that already promises to be one of the most fascinating looking league tables in recent memory come May 2020.
Will Bayern overcome the ever-increasing odds and extend their record reign or will we crown new champions come Matchday 34? Can Gladbach’s Marco Rose march his side to the title in his debut season? Will Dortmund finally get their hands on the trophy for the first time in eight years? Or will Leipzig clinch a maiden Meisterschale? How long can the Wolves go unbeaten and what about Freiburg’s incredible start? Will the resurgent Schalke storm into first or will it be the year Bayer Leverkusen shed the “Neverkusen” tag? How about the chances of Eintracht Frankfurt and Hertha Berlin? Or Werder and Hoffenheim?
Everything is possible and anything can happen, so strap yourselves in between now and Matchday 34 as the 2019/20 Bundesliga title race is going to be a pulsating ride.