Bayern out to halt Dortmund juggernaut
With Borussia Dortmund out to claim a third straight Bundesliga crown, Bavarian rivals Bayern Munich have splashed the cash.
Dortmund kick off the season at home to Werder Bremen tonight having beaten Bayern home and away in the league for the past two seasons. They also beat Munich 5-2 in May's German Cup final.
Bayern threw down an early marker a fortnight ago with a 2-1 win over Dortmund in the pre-season Supercup final, new striker Mario Mandzukic - signed from Wolfsburg for a reported fee of €13 million (HK$126.4 million) and Germany forward Thomas Müller netting for Munich. It was Bayern's first win over Dortmund since February 2010.
Dortmund have dampened expectations for a third title, but it promises to be a battle royal when the teams meet in Munich over the first weekend of December.
"Where will the title end up? I do not know. I don't think anyone does," said Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp. "There is only one club where the only way is to be successful and that's Bayern Munich. I am just happy that we can compete with them."
Dortmund president Hans-Joachim Watzke was "calm and relaxed" ahead of the season. "Bayern Munich are still the industry leaders," he insisted.
In turn, the Munich camp put the emphasis squarely on Dortmund to defend their crown. "When a team are twice champions, they cannot deny the role of favourites, but of course we will … do everything we can to … bring the title back to Munich," Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said.
Bayern have also signed Peru forward Claudio Pizarro on a free from Werder Bremen, Brazilian centre-half Dante from Borussia Mönchengladbach for €4.7 million and midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri from Basel for €12.5 million.