We round up our Bundesliga previews at the only place we could: the top. Ali takes a look at Bayern Munich and wonders whether anyone can stop them...
Carlo Ancelloti is my favourite manager. There, I said it. We need to get all potential bias out in the open early on, but Axel and I decided to preview the sides we thought would win the title. He plumped for Dortmund, as he explains in his excellent preview, because of their young, talented line up and their incredible manager, Thomas Tuchel. There is, in my opinion, only one manager in the Bundesliga that deserves the title of King, however, and that man is Carlo Ancelloti.
From his suave touchline appearance (a three piece suit in the Champions League final? Why not!) to the rave reviews of almost all his ex-charges, Ancelloti epitomises everything a top level manager should aim to be. He is well loved at Bayern already, an emotion that was in sparing supply during the Pep Guardiola period. He seems to have the players onside immediately, suggesting that his appointment was almost the antidote to Pep's reign, and the camp look happy and ready for the new season. An unspectacular Super Cup win against Dortmund was a good start, whilst the 5-0 cup victory over Carl Zeiss Jena avoided any embarrassing early slip-ups. The Ancelloti era has begun with very little fanfare but plenty of positive news.
Ancelloti is incredibly successful as a manager in multiple countries: from his native Italy, where he led AC Milan to Champions League success, through a stint at Chelsea where he won the Premier League, a stay in Paris where he again dominated domestically, and of course his incredible success in winning La Decima with Real Madrid, picking up the club's elusive 10th Champions League trophy. He was also a successful player, meaning he understands the pressures his Bayern squad will be under. Theirs will be a similar task to that which he faced in Paris: how to keep an overly dominant giant motivated and prepared to face any challengers. Bayern will have to fend off Borussia Dortmund again this season, whilst Bayer Leverkusen could also pose a threat. It is the Champions League which he will really be hoping to win and if he could achieve the treble in his first season it would be an unmitigated success.
He, like Guardiola before him, inherits one of the best squads in Europe and by far the best defence in the Bundesliga. As the old football legend goes, attack wins you games but defence wins you titles. Dortmund may feel they have a more intimidating attack, with the addition of Mario Götze and Andre Schürrle a move in the right direction in comparison with the ageing pair of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, but that would be to too easily discount the young talents of Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman. Robert Lewandowski will be aiming to go beyond his goal record from last season in all competitions, whilst Thomas Müller continues to be a huge threat on the domestic scene. Defensively, the additions of Mats Hummels and Renato Sanches will strengthen the current side and the potential side, with Sanches in particular appearing to be one for the future. With Xabi Alonso and Javi Martinez ageing and injury prone, it is time to freshen the squad.
Youngster Joshua Kimmich will also be hoping to continue from where he left off under Guardiola, making a place in the side his on a regular basis. With Phillip Lahm still unsure as to whether he wants to be a full back or a holding midfielder and David Alaba settling for the first option there is the potential for Kimmich to step into Thiago or Alonso's shoes and make a place in central midfield his. There is no doubting the quality of Bayern's squad and in Manuel Neuer they have the best goalkeeper in the world. If they concede many more goals than last year it would be a huge surprise.
Ancelloti is well renowned for being a fantastic man-manager and tactician and will take Bayern Munich up a level in 2016/17. Part of his job will be to transition the side from the old stars to the new talents whilst maintaining a winning team. Can anyone stop them? I doubt it. Come May there will be only one headline: All Hail King Carlo.
Key Player: Phillip Lahm
There's no doubt the captain is still the main man in Bavaria. As the squad transitions from the old shoulders of Ribery, Robben and Alonso to the young of Kimmich, Coman and Sanches, Lahm will be the steadying influence and the reassuring word. A better captain, role model or footballer does not exist.
It's Bayern Munich, we all know who they are.... But the man with the ability to surprise us could well be Julian Green. He's spent the last few seasons on loan but Ancelloti gave him a run out against Jena and we could see him get more of a chance in Bavaria this season.
Ali Predicts: 1st
Axel Predicts: 2nd
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