Soccer-Bayern launch title race as overwhelming favourites

By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN, Aug 8 (Reuters) – Treble winners Bayern Munich launch their Bundesliga title defence against Borussia Moenchengladbach on Friday but league rivals and soccer fans across German are already talking about a foregone conclusion.

The all-conquering Bavarians, who won a domestic double as well as the Champions League against German rivals Borussia Dortmund last season, are the overwhelming favourites to retain the league title.

Having spent more than 60 million euros to boost an already superb squad with the addition of offensive midfielder Mario Goetze from Dortmund and sought-after Thiago Alacantara from Barcelona, Bayern have set their sights on five trophies.

Coach Pep Guardiola, who took over from Jupp Heynckes in the summer, is an equally impressive transfer with the former Barcelona coach, who won 14 out of 19 possible titles in his four seasons there, returning to action after a one-year sabbatical.

“We want to achieve something that has not been done in Europe before,” Bayern sports director Matthias Sammer said on Wednesday. “We want to go after the treble again and on top of that we want the European Super Cup and the club World Cup.”

Dortmund, who won consecutive league titles in 2011 and 2012 and dazzled with their European run last season, are aware of their rivals’ abilities despite their 4-2 German Super Cup win over Bayern two weeks ago.

EXCEPTIONAL SQUAD

“Bayern Munich have an exceptional squad,” said Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp. “It may be the world’s most exceptional squad. We will try to get everything we can out of our season but as it stands now that would mean second place.”

The Bavarians did fail in their bid to sign Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski, who looks set to play out his last contract year at Dortmund. Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge ruled out any further transfers.

Dortmund have brought in Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mikhitaryan, forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Greece defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos and already look as the only other strong contenders for the title. They take on Augsburg on Saturday.

“At the very top I see Bayern and Dortmund, almost level,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew, who will be watching closely as he prepares for upcoming 2014 World Cup qualifiers and next year’s tournament in Brazil.

“Bayern have more depth in their squad and can replace three or even four players throughout the entire season. I do not seen any other serious contenders with all the respect I have for Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke 04.”

Leverkusen, third last season and in the Champions League, have replaced departed Andre Schuerrle with equally dangerous South Korea forward Son Heung-min from Hamburg SV and host Freiburg on Saturday.

Newcomers Hertha Berlin, back in top flight after one season, host Eintracht Frankfurt while fellow promoted Eintracht Braunschweig, back in top flight after 28 years, entertain Werder Bremen. (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

source : http://news.yahoo.com/soccer-bayern-launch-title-race-overwhelming-favourites-084901725.html