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Bundesliga Title Race, 2nd Edition: Who Has the Staying Power?

After 21 Match-days, just five points separate first from sixth, and ZERO points separate first from third!

1. FC Union Berlin v FC Bayern München - Bundesliga Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Following the results at the weekend, The summit of the Bundesliga table is looking very interesting. Competition is tight at the top, and of the Big Five European leagues, none is as closely contested as the Bundesliga.

Big Five European League Top-Six-Spread:

Premier League: 16 Points

La Liga: 25 Points

Serie A: 21 Points

Ligue 1: 17 Points

Bundesliga: 5 Points

With just five points separating the Bundesliga Top Six, it could take as little as two match days to flip the European positions on their heads. Which team has what it takes to dethrone Bayern Munich? Who will finish in the Champions League positions? Which team has the consistency to stay at the top for the remainder of the season?

I thought it would be worth taking a look at a few facts about the Bundesliga Leaders.

2023 Bundesliga Point Tally, Form and Goal Differential:

43-Bayern Munich D-D-D-W-W-L +40

43-Borussia Dortmund W-W-W-W-W-W +17

43-Union Berlin W-W-W-W-W-D +11

40-SC Freiburg L-D-W-L-W-W +3

39-RB Leibzig D-W-W-D-L-W +17

38-Eintracht Frankfurt. W-D-D-W-L-W +13

European Form:

Bayern 1-0 PSG @ PSG

Dortmund 1-0 Chelsea @ Dortmund

Union 3-1 Ajax after both games

Freiburg- Europa Conference League Last-16 yet to play

RB Leipzig 1-1 Manchester City @ Leipzig

Frankfurt 0-2 Napoli @ Frankfurt

DFB Pokal:

Bayern 4-0 Mainz

Dortmund 2-1 Bochum

Union 2-1 Wolfsburg

Freiburg 2-0 Sandhausen

Leipzig 3-1 Hoffenheim

Frankfurt 4-2 Darmstadt

The top six teams have each qualified for the Pokal Quarterfinals. It’s anyone’s cup.

Upcoming Bundesliga Matches between Top Six:

February 25: Leipzig host Frankfurt

February 26: Bayern host Union

March 3: Dortmund host Leipzig

March 19: Union host Frankfurt

April 1: Bayern host Dortmund

April 8: Dortmund host Union & Freiburg host Bayern

April 22: Dortmund host Frankfurt

May 6: Freiburg host Leipzig

May 13: Union host Freiburg

May 20: Bayern host Leipzig

May 27: Frankfurt host Freiburg

RB Leipzig v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga
Julian Brandt and Mohamed Simakan battle for control of the ball
Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

So, who will win the league? Here are my thoughts:

The obvious answer here is Bayern. Not only have the Bavarians won the league every season for the last decade, but they've also rarely slipped up enough to make the title race interesting at this stage. Still, of their top six opponents, Bayern are yet to host Union, Dortmund, and Leipzig. While none of these teams have outstanding records in the Allianz Arena, the Bavarians still have to face several major tests. In addition, all is not well in Munich at the moment. “FC Hollywood” always seems to grab the spotlight, even if that publicity includes Julian Naglesman verbally abusing referees. Could his outburst be related to the mounting pressure on the German manager to deliver results? The transfer of Yann Sommer has clearly not been enough to compensate for Bayern’s other troubles, and while Bayern has slipped up in four of their six Bundesliga matches of 2023, it’s Borussia Dortmund who have most consistently capitalized.

I know I’m biased here and don’t need to remind everyone about BVB’s past problems with consistency, but I do think Dortmund have launched a legitimate title charge. In 2023, Dortmund have dismantled Freiburg and won away against Werder Bremen; the latter is almost always a thorn in Dortmund’s side. If this form continues from both Dortmund AND Bayern, then right now I’d suggest Dortmund will overtake the Bavarian giants. It’s important to remember that Dortmund still has matches against Bayern, Leipzig, Union, and Frankfurt. None of those will be easy opponents.

Union Berlin feels like the wild card. Few people expected Union to qualify for European competition last season, and even fewer anticipated Union would be challenging for the Bundesliga title. What this title race could come down to, is squad depth, fitness, and match frequency. Bayern and Dortmund hold narrow leads in the Champions League Last-16 ties, while Union defeated Ajax 3-1 on aggregate to secure a Europa League Last-16 birth. With their European success, it’s hard for me to imagine Union will be able to keep up with the top six pack. Yet critics have been saying these things all season and here we are: Union are still at the top, unbeaten in 2023.

Freiburg is a squad that is tricky to evaluate. Having won their group in the Europa League last fall, Freiburg will participate in the Last-16 of Europe’s second tier international competition. If Christian Stretch’s men wish to challenge for the Bundesliga title however, they will need to improve their away form, having lost 0-6 in Wolfsburg and 1-5 in Dortmund in recent weeks. I think Freiburg have a shot at success in Europe, but it will likely come at the cost of their Bundesliga form. Either way, SC Freiburg is earning respect on an international level.

Sport-Club Freiburg v Eintracht Frankfurt - Bundesliga
The January 25th contest between Frankfurt and Freiburg ended in a 1-1 stalemate
Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Leipzig have looked increasingly dangerous since Marco Rose took over. They’ve held Manchester City to a draw in the Champions League and their only loss in 2023 has been against Union. Should Leipzig fail to advance in the Champion’s League, then I do expect them to challenge for the title. I don’t think Marco Rose is a great cup coach, but he’s shown he has what it takes to lead a top Bundesliga side.

Frankfurt have work to do when they travel to Napoli to try and overturn their 0-2 loss at home in the first leg of the Champions League Last-16. Oliver Glazer’s men have slipped up on occasion, but their squad cohesion is phenomenal and cannot be underestimated. Should Frankfurt be knocked out of Europe, then I fully expect them to qualify for the Champions League next season, and maybe even mount a title charge. Assuming Frankfurt can hold onto some of their current and rising stars, they will be a force to be reckoned with next season.


Who Will Dethrone Bayern Munich?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Borussia Dortmund
    (75 votes)
  • 7%
    Union Berlin
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    SC Freiburg
    (0 votes)
  • 4%
    RB Leipzig
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    Eintracht Frankfurt
    (2 votes)
  • 27%
    Bayern’s Victory is Inevitable
    (34 votes)
125 votes total Vote Now

What do you think?

Who has the staying power to wrestle the Meisterschale from Bayern’s vice?

Share your thoughts in the comments!