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It has become a habit for Bayern Munich to collect the title at the end of a Bundesliga season. The last eight campaigns have all ended the same way: with the club from Bavaria sitting pretty at the summit of the standings. Hansi Flick’s side is expected to make it nine in a row this term, with DraftKings Sportsbook offering -1000 on Bayern coming out on top, despite the fact they currently have just a two-point lead at the top.
Bayern are by far the biggest club in Germany. They have won 30 titles in their history, with second-placed Nurnberg way down on nine – and their most recent success came in 1968. Bayern’s dominance of the Bundesliga is not a new phenomenon, although their recent monopolization of the trophy is unprecedented. Before this current run, their record was three titles in a row, a feat they managed three times – between 1972 and 1974, 1985 and 1987, and 1998 and 2001.
With that in mind, we have taken a look back at the last five clubs other than Bayern Munich to win the Bundesliga title.
Borussia Dortmund won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012 under Jurgen Klopp, the manager to whom all of his successors at Signal Iduna Park are compared. Klopp was the perfect fit for a club that prides itself on blood-and-thunder soccer, straight-talking and a ferocious work ethic.
Klopp was appointed by Dortmund in 2008, but it took him a while to get his ideas across. Within three years, though, he had created a high-energy, heavy-pressing, relentless team in his image. Dortmund won the title in 2010/11 with a degree of comfort, finishing seven points clear of Bayer Leverkusen and 10 in advance of Bayern Munich.
BVB made a poor start to the following campaign, winning only two of their first six games to start 2011/12 off the pace. They were brilliant thereafter, though, and did not lose a match between weeks seven and 34. Dortmund finished eight points clear of runners-up Bayern and also won the DFB-Pokal to scoop their first ever domestic double.
Nobody saw Wolfsburg’s title triumph coming. The club had almost suffered relegation to the second tier just two years earlier, and although they recovered to finish fifth under Felix Magath in 2007/08, they were not considered title contenders going into the following campaign.
Magath won two Bundesliga crowns with Bayern in 2005 and 2006, but this was the most impressive achievement of his managerial career. A notoriously hard taskmaster, Magath won the Wolfsburg players over once they knew he could bring them success. The Wolves were way down in ninth going into the winter break, but a superb second half of the season saw them finish two points clear of Bayern at the summit of the standings.
This was a collective success, but three players, in particular, stood out: Grafite scored 28 goals, Edin Dzeko notched 26, and Zvjezdan Misimovic provided 20 assists. Wolfsburg were worthy champions. They scored more goals than any other team and possessed the second-best defensive record, behind only Borussia Dortmund.
Stuttgart have been relegated to the 2. Bundesliga on two occasions in recent seasons, so it is easy to forget that they were German champions only 14 years ago. The Bundesliga was a much more open competition in the first decade of the 21st century, and it was Stuttgart’s turn to take advantage in 2006/07.
The club from Baden-Wurttemberg had been runners-up in 2003, before posting fourth- and fifth-place finishes the next two seasons. They then slumped to ninth in 2005/06, which made their success the following campaign all the more surprising.
Yet Armin Veh’s young side was fearless. They got off to a poor start and were in the relegation zone after three games, but they gradually improved and ended the season with eight consecutive triumphs, a run which propelled them to the top of the table ahead of Schalke and Werder Bremen.
Bayern Munich would win three of a possible four titles between 2003 and 2006, but Werder Bremen snuck in to take the crown in 2004. This was their fourth championship and came 11 years after their previous triumph when they edged out Bayern by a single point.
Thomas Schaaf had been in charge of Werder since 1999, taking them from relegation contenders to European qualifiers. They did even better in 2003/04, winning the title by finishing six points clear of Bayern.
The decisive victory that season came against the reigning champions from Munich. Needing a win at the Olympiastadion to secure the title, Werder stormed into a 3-0 lead inside 35 minutes. Bayern pulled a goal back in the second half, but the visitors held on to claim the championship in the best circumstances possible.
Kaiserslautern is playing their soccer in the third tier these days, a far cry from when they were winning Bundesliga titles in the 1990s. Their first success that decade came in 1991, before Otto Rehhagel led the club to glory again seven years later.
This was a remarkable season for Kaiserslautern, who had only been promoted back to the Bundesliga the previous campaign. They laid down a marker on matchday one, beating Bayern 1-0 away from home. That was a sign of things to come, as Kaiserslautern carried over the momentum from their promotion season into the top tier.
Just to prove their opening-day success was not a fluke, Kaiserslautern also beat Bayern in front of their own fans. A 2-0 victory in early December underlined their title credentials, and although they won only one of seven games during a tricky run in spring, Kaiserslautern still ended the campaign two points clear of Bayern.
The Bavarian outfit scored more goals and conceded fewer than the champions, but Kaiserslautern only lost four of their 34 matches. It was a tremendous achievement from a team that had been playing second-division soccer just one year earlier.
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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