Going into this season, FC Bayern München saw Borussia Dortmund as their main competitors. Nothing has changed there by matchday 8 with just six points between the sides, but there are four teams between last year’s champions and runners-up. Bayern now have these new competitors clearly in their rear-view mirrors.
Head of the chasing pack are newly-promoted RB Leipzig, who are just two points off the leaders. Bayern centre-back Mats Hummels acknowledges the danger posed by eastern upstarts but still believes they are not the main threat: “Leipzig have to be up there because Ralph Hasenhüttl has always done great work with his teams, but I still think Dortmund are our strongest opponents.”
Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge agrees with Hummels as he sees “great potential in this BVB side.” However, the performances of other teams such as Hertha Berlin, 1. FC Köln or Leipzig cannot be ignored and the record champions should show them the respect they deserve.
Bayern’s extra workload takes toll
Unlike FC Bayern, many of the chasing pack, such as Leipzig, Hertha, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Köln, are able to concentrate solely on the Bundesliga as they do not have European competitions to worry about this season. However, the champions are perfectly used to playing every three days when in UEFA Champions League action. Coach Carlo Ancelotti has also looked to rotate his squad to reduce the effects of these extra fixtures.
Despite a convincing performance in their 2-0 victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach, which cemented the Munich club’s place at the top of the table, Hummels felt the side were “a little flat in the second half after so many mid-week matches.” The victory not only brought an end to Bayern’s winless spell in the Bundesliga but also extended their impressive run of league games without defeat to 18 matches.
Watch: Bayern midfielder Xabi Alonso has his say on the win over Gladbach:
FCB only focusing on themselves
The Bavarians may be top but they are not running away with it like they have in previous years. After matchday 8 of last season, Bayern already had a seven-point lead over Dortmund. That has not been possible this campaign because of the impressive performances by the sides chasing them in the table.
The top seven are only separated by six points and Thomas Müller is therefore keeping an eye on all the teams close to the champions in the table, not just Dortmund. However, the striker is more concerned about his own side’s performances: “We have to win our own matches and improve our game. If we start playing to our maximum then we can start looking at the others, but not until then.”