Three years ago, Borussia Dortmund weren’t even in Europe. Two years before that, Wolfsburg won Germany’s title. Still, over the last two years, there’s been an increased willingness to paint the German Bundesliga with the same brush we do most European leagues, trying to reduce everything to a couple of haves and a litany of have-nots. While the success of Bayern Munich and Dortmund led to some minor La Liga-fication of the circuit, we need more evidence before saying the Bundesliga’s set to join the likes of Spain, Portugal, Ukraine, the Netherlands, and potentially France (thanks, Monaco) in their big two dynamics.
That said, the first match day of the Bundesliga season won’t do anything to quiet that speculation. Both of last year’s Champions League finalists strolled to easy opening weekend wins, and while they weren’t the only ones in Germany to post convincing results on the season’s first match day, there’s nicely confirm any bias that this German campaign will be decided by the league’s current big two.
Friday’s opening by Bayern Munich doesn’t look like a big win on paper, the defending champions “only” posting a two-goal win over visiting Broussia Moenchengladbach, but the manner in which they did it was almost scary. Against a team that had given them problems on their two previous visits to the Allianz Arena, Bayern struck twice in the first 16 minutes. Although they gave one back before halftime, Dante’s own goal pulling Moenchengladbach within one, David Alaba’s mid-second half penalty kick sealed Bayern’s opening win. They more than doubled their opponents shots on goal (13-6) while holding 59 percent of possession, living up to the expectations of Pep Guardiola’s FCB debut.
A day later, Borussia Dortmund gave us reason to think they may be ready to put up a bigger challenge. Last year, Dortmund finished 25 points behind Bayern (notably, only one point ahead of third place Bayer Leverkusen). On Saturday, however, three goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the Gabonese attacker’s Bundesliga debut paved the way to a 4-0 victory at Ausburg, with Robert Lewandowski’s conversion from the spot sealing the game late.
Aubameyang’s stellar opener will temporarily quell doubts Mario Götze’s departure could derail Dortmund. If anything, people may be talking about the new dynamic he brings to the team. Whereas last year’s addition of Marco Reus from Moenchengladbach gave Jurgen Klopp a complement to play with Götze, Aubameyang provides the team a more out-and-out goalscorer, somebody who was thought to be the eventual successor to Lewandowski. That may still happen next summer, when the Polish international moves to Bayern, but in the interim, Aubameyang gives BVB a different look – somebody who may end up scoring more goals than either Reus or Götze provided last year.
After one week, Hertha Berlin sit top of the table, their 6-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt proving a rousing return to the top flight. And like Bayern, Bayer Leverkusen also put up a 3-1 win at home, hinting they could again threaten the top two.
Yet three days into the Bundesliga season, the might of Bayern and Dortmund is evident. While that doesn’t necessarily confirm the idea Germany’s developed a Big Two scenario, it certainly doesn’t dispel the notion.