- Van Bommel played for Bayern between 2006 and 2011.
- Expects former club to win the title.
- Believes Dortmund will come up short, with Leipzig third.
It is approaching six years since he left Bavaria's foremost capital club, but Mark van Bommel is still a revered figure at FC Bayern München.
The Dutchman, who was the first non-German to be named club captain, played almost 200 times for the Reds, winning two domestic doubles and reaching the UEFA Champions League final in 2010. After retiring in 2013, he now works as the youth coordinator at PSV Eindhoven and is the assistant to former Borussia Dortmund and Hamburger SV coach Bert van Marwijk at Saudi Arabia.
In part two of an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, van Bommel shares his thoughts on the 2016/17 title race...
bundesliga.com: How do you think the Bundesliga has developed in recent years?
Mark van Bommel: It's got better and better since I left Bayern in 2011, especially in terms of its reach. Before, only Bayern could attract the top players. Now Borussia Dortmund, FC Schalke 04 and Bayer 04 Leverkusen 04 can, too. When I was on World Cup qualifying duty with Saudi Arabia, I only heard positive things about German football.
Watch: Van Bommel's former home, the Allianz Arena:
bundesliga.com: What's the view of the Bundesliga in your homeland?
Van Bommel: Even in Holland the respect for the Bundesliga has grown. The stadiums are always full, there are never riots between fans. The Bundesliga is one big party. It's never boring. You can only tip your hat to it.
bundesliga.com: How do you see this season's title race going?
Van Bommel: I'm pretty sure Bayern will dominate the Bundesliga for years to come. To break the domination, Dortmund, for example, would have to have everything go right for them. It's not very realistic to expect Thomas Tuchel's team not to have any injuries when they're playing every three days, for example, or for such a young team not to go through any rough patches. Right now, I think the gap is still too big and that Bayern's squad is too well stocked and experienced for their road to the title to be in danger.
bundesliga.com: Which Bundesliga teams have surprised you the most in recent months?
Van Bommel: Hertha Berlin look really solid and mature, but that's been the case for a while. You could see that last season when they occupied third place for such a long time, before tailing off towards the end of the campaign. Despite being knocked out of the Europa League in qualifying, they're up there once again. We'll have to see if they can do better than 2015/16, but this team has the capabilities.
bundesliga.com: What do you make of the sporting development of RB Leipzig?
Van Bommel: They're another team who've made a good impression so far, they seem stable and play with a lot of belief. They remind me of FC Ingolstadt 04 last season or TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in 2007/08. Leipzig will have to keep it up to keep their place towards the top of the table, but they certainly have the potential.
"Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has developed into the complete striker."
bundesliga.com Which teams will be on the podium at the close of play on Matchday 34?
Van Bommel: Bayern will be champions, I'm sure of that. Then I see Dortmund in second and Leipzig in third. Surprising, isn't it? But that's my tip.
bundesliga.com: What are Borussia Dortmund lacking in your opinion?
Van Bommel: I like this Dortmund team. They're fun to watch. They're really strong going forward, but titles usually go to the team that concedes the fewest goals, and although BVB are solid at the back, I have my doubts. I'm a big fan of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Van Bommel: He's developed into the complete striker. He's a character. He believes in himself. He makes a good impression. Ousmane Dembele also has massive potential. The two complement each other superbly.
Interview by Alexis Menuge