The Bundesliga returns from its winter break this weekend and Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke is wondering why they even bother. League champions Bayern Munich currently have an 11-point cushion atop the table (while Dortmund sit in the relegation zone, 30 points back) and Watzke is convinced that clubs have stopped trying when they face Bayern.
Watzke: “Many teams don’t try to win points against Bayern now.”
The BVB boss: “Their superiority is currently so absurd that many opponents can’t remember how they used to put everything into this one match. They do it with us instead.”
Of course, these statements were likely prompted by bitterness over Bayern’s success and Dortmund’s unfathomable failure, but that doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily wrong. It would make sense that Bayern’s extended period of dominance would chip away at their opponents’ motivation after a while. That can be a two-way street, though.
Raphael Honigstein wrote an excellent piece for ESPN highlighting how this lack of a domestic challenge has hurt Bayern in Europe, but solutions to these problems are elusive.
That said, dominance can’t be maintained forever and it might just be a waiting game until the Bundesliga is competitive again. Or maybe Pep Guardiola will start sabotaging his own team in domestic matches in order to keep them sharp for the Champions League, thus giving other Bundesliga clubs a reason to be hopeful again.
This might seem unlikely, but if Manuel Neuer starts playing Bundesliga matches with his gloves sewn together and a sleep mask over his eyes, you’ll know why.