The amazing thing about Borussia Dortmund’s 2010-11 title wasn’t the way their young talent came together or their dethroning of Bayern Munich. It was the speed with which they put the season to bed.
After their 2-0 win at Nuremberg on Dec. 5, 2010, Dortmund sat on 37 points after 15 games. They had a seven-point lead on second place Mainz, the league’s surprise packet. Defending champions Bayern sat fifth with 23 points. Barring a huge collapse in form, Dortmund was going to claim their first title since 2001-02.
This year, Bayern appears to be reversing the trick. After Saturday’s win at Fortuna Dusseldorf, Bayern has a perfect 24 points through eight rounds. Their lead on second place Frankfurt (the league’s surprise packet) is already five. Defending champions Dortmund sit fourth with 12 points. Barring a collapse, Bayern will reclaim the title they lost in 2010-11, though with a month-and-a-half before winter break, it’s best to cast comparisons to BVB’s title season as compelling coincidence. As we saw last year, Bayern’s capable of giving back a hot start.
As today’s 5-0 win in Dusseldorf showed, this is becoming more than a mere hot start for Bayern. What this is can barely be described. We don’t have words for a team that starts an elite league with 24 goals in eight games, allowing only two. And still, Arjen Robben has yet to score a goal. Mario Gómez, last year’s leading scorer, has yet to play, while first choice left back David Alaba made his season debut today (though it remains to be seen if Alaba has held his spot).
Even if Bayern regressed – and regressed to less than their normal, title-contending selves – Dortmund would have to play better if they want to make this a race. Today, hosting the year’s first Revierderby, BVB failed to take advantage of their home ground, allowing Schalke to play on an even footing from the opening kickoff. Thanks to better execution, the Blues were up two by the 48th minute. Although Robert Lewandowski pulled one back before the hour-mark, Schalke left the Westfalenstadion with three points, winning 2-1.
The Bundesliga’s only other title threat, Schalke (third place, seven back of Bayern) allows us a quick-and-dirty comparison between the two favorites. Bayern and Dortmund don’t play until Dec. 1, but after Saturday, they’ve both faced Schalke. Whereas Dortmund lost at home, Bayern went to Gelsenkirchen and won. FCB are the only team to beat Schalke this season.
Already up 12 on Dortmund, Bayern’s nearly replicated the lead BVB had on them two Decembers ago, when pundits started to debate whether the season was done. As we saw after that winter break, Dortmund was beyond being threatened.
This year, if Bayern can keep up their hot start, they’ll likely have a larger lead by the time the teams meet in December. That’s when Bayern can put this Bundesliga to bed.