Bayern no longer Bundesliga top favourites as Leipzig gain ground
BERLIN - Bayern Munich are no longer the big title favourite to win an eighth straight Bundesliga title when the season restarts on the weekend, with leaders RB leipzig now a hot contender.
Officials from five of the 18 clubs have rated Leipzig top contender to lift the trophy on May 16, five still be believe in third-placed Bayern, Paderborn coach Steffen Baumgart would put his money on second-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach, while the others expect a tight title race between several teams.
Leipzig command the standings two points ahead of Gladbach, with Bayern another two behind while Borussia Dortmund and Schalke are seven points off the top.
"RB Leipzig are now favourites," Gladbach sports director Max Eberl said, putting the pressure on the eastern Germans just as Munich coach Hansi Flick, and sports directors Michael Zorc of Dortmund and Jochen Schneider of Schalke.
"Leipzig deserve to be top four points ahead (of Munich)," Flick said. "The Bundesliga is balanced for the first time in a long while. My team has the will to reverse matters."
Zorc said Leipzig appear "more stable" than in the past but added "Bayern are always there" to pounce. Schneider's simple answer on the favourite was "RB Leipzig."
Bayern lifted the last seven trophies, often already far ahead of the pack in the hibernation period, and several including sports directors Jochen Saier of Freiburg and Simon Rolfes of Leverkusen believe the Bavarians will eventually be top again.
"Regardless of the current standings Bayern have the strongest squad and the biggest chance. But it won't be easy," Rolfes said.
Others would not pick a favourite, such as Hoffenheim sports director Alexander Rosen who said: "The greatest thing for all football fans is that the outcome is completely open."dpa