If Bayern Munich are the one constant in the upper echelons of top-flight German football, their challengers typically emerge from a pool of clubs just below them that, for a few years, strive to knock the Bavarian giants from their perch atop the Bundesliga.
Most recently it’s been Borussia Dortmund that have provided Bayern their stiffest challenge, just as they did in the mid-1990s, when they won both the league and Champions League.
And that’s according to none other than Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp.
“VfL still have power,” he recently remarked in an interview with German newspaper Bild, as relayed by Goal. “They are competitors and you have to take them seriously.”
The 46-year-old also speculated that Wolfsburg owner Volkswagen was starting to increase its funding of the club, and Saturday’s capture of former Chelsea midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, as reported by Eurosport, would seem to support his theory.
At Wolfsburg, De Bruyne will be expected to work as part of an attacking trio just behind striker Ivica Olic—likely between Daniel Caligiuri and Diego. Maximilian Arnold has been handling the position of late, but at just 19 years of age, the Germany U-21 international could do without the pressure of a full-time role.
And behind him will be Brazil’s Luiz Gustavo, who was signed from Bayern Munich during the summer.
Klopp on Wolfsburg: ''It is clear that Volkswagen (Wolfsburg's main sponsors) are being generous and starting to put a lot into VfL.''— Borussia Dortmund FF (@BVBfansFF) January 14, 2014
Also part of manager Dieter Hecking’s squad are former Serbia underage international Slobodan Medojevic, Croatia midfielder Ivan Perisic, Portugal winger Vieirinha and promising Swiss left-back Ricardo Rodriguez, who scored in Wolfsburg’s 2-1 win at home to Dortmund in November.
“Everyone knows that Wolfsburg have an incredible squad,” Klopp remarked after the match, as per Soccerway. “On their day they can beat every other team, and we will have to cope with that now.”
Wolfsburg, of course, last won the Bundesliga in 2009 with a team that included the likes of Edin Dzeko, Grafite, Andrea Barzagli and Zvjezdan Misimovic.
But in the cycle that is German football’s opposition to Bayern Munich, it seems as though it could be Wolfsburg’s turn once again.