sport news Can ANYONE stop Bayern Munich making it nine-in-a-row as the Bundesliga kicks ...

Not everything in the world has changed during 2020.

As a new Bundesliga season dawns, we find ourselves asking the same question as we have in each of the past few years - can anyone stop Bayern Munich?

Having made it eight title wins in succession despite what was, by their lofty standards, a turbulent season - adding the German Cup and the Champions League to boot for another historic Treble - Bayern's rivals once again face the daunting and depressing challenge of eclipsing them.

Bayern Munich claimed the Bundesliga title for an eighth straight year last season and the main question ahead of the new campaign is whether they can be toppled

Bayern Munich claimed the Bundesliga title for an eighth straight year last season and the main question ahead of the new campaign is whether they can be toppled

Their supremacy in Germany was replicated in Europe as they won the Champions League

Their supremacy in Germany was replicated in Europe as they won the Champions League

The scale of their domestic dominance is only surpassed in Europe at the moment by Juventus and Celtic with the Bundesliga and neutrals alike praying for a more competitive title race this time around.

When the Bundesliga showed the rest of world football the way in safely restarting last season inside a Covid-secure bubble back in May, it appeared we'd finally get our wish.

closed the gap to just one point on the first day back but then faded and folded in hugely disappointing . In the end, Bayern won the title by 13 points. Same old, same old.

And it seems the main glimmer of optimism for Dortmund, RB Leipzig and the rest of the chasing pack this time is that Bayern's breathless 26-day pre-season might eventually make them a little bit tired.

So Hansi Flick and his European champions open the new campaign against Schalke on Friday night listening happily to the clutching of straws elsewhere.

The off-season has been so short Bayern haven't had time for spending sprees even if they had the means but they have finally signed Leroy Sane from Manchester City for an initial fee of £44.7million.

Bayern finally managed to sign Leroy Sane from Manchester City for an initial fee of £44.7m

Bayern finally managed to sign Leroy Sane from Manchester City for an initial fee of £44.7m

Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski smile ominously in Bayern training this week

Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski smile ominously in Bayern training this week

The process of annual renewal is important at serial champions - Liverpool's great teams of the 1970s and 1980s believed in it as gospel - and Bayern are well used to having the target on their back.

Whether their squad is large or robust enough to cope with the hectic fixture demands of the coming months remains to be seen but they'll undeniably be better placed than the rest of the division.

The financial impact of Covid-19, which saw the final weeks of the season played out behind closed doors, has hit every club hard and Bayern are no exception.

It helps explain the imminent £27million sale of Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool and it's fair to say that Bayern would never willingly sell a midfielder in his prime like the Spaniard.

Still, they have the regular-as-clockwork goalscoring of Robert Lewandowski - 55 last season in the end - the attacking guile of Thomas Muller and speed of Sane, Serge Gnabry and Alphonso Davies.

Alphonso Davies is a world class player in the making as Bayern push for further success

Alphonso Davies is a world class player in the making as Bayern push for further success

Bayern coach Hansi Flick knows he must carefully manage his squad amid a hectic schedule

Bayern coach Hansi Flick knows he must carefully manage his squad amid a hectic schedule

They'll take some stopping - Bayern have won their last 21 matches and are unbeaten since December 7 - and their rivals will just have to hope a season that brings the added demands of a UEFA Super Cup meeting with Sevilla in Budapest and potentially the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar catches up with them.

With Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen neutered by the big money departures of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz respectively to Chelsea, it's Dortmund who are best placed to challenge.

Jadon Sancho was expected to be the third big name to depart the Bundesliga this summer but 's unwillingness to pay the £108m asking price means he begins the season a Dortmund player.

The 20-year-old England star was their leading scorer and assist-maker last season and appears to be in no rush to leave the Westfalenstadion as Lucien Favre assembles one of the most vibrant young teams in Europe.

Jadon Sancho (left) and Erling Haaland are the main threats in an exciting Dortmund team

Jadon Sancho (left) and Erling Haaland are the main threats in an exciting Dortmund team

Jude Bellingham, their summer signing from Birmingham, became their youngest-ever scorer

Jude Bellingham, their summer signing from Birmingham, became their youngest-ever scorer

American Giovanni Reyna enjoyed a breakthrough campaign for Dortmund last season

American Giovanni Reyna enjoyed a breakthrough campaign for Dortmund last season

The opening weekend 

FRIDAY

Bayern Munich vs Schalke (7.30pm UK time)

Live on BT Sport 1

SATURDAY (2.30pm unless stated)

Cologne vs Hoffenheim

Eintracht Frankfurt vs Arminia Bielefeld

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