When the Bundesliga became the first major European football league to resume amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, football fans hoped for an exciting conclusion to the season as there were only six points separating the top four sides. Bayern Munich led second-placed Borussia Dortmund by four points, with RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach a further one and two points behind respectively.
However, both Leipzig and Monchengladbach won just three of their eight games since the restart and slipped out from Bundesliga contention. While Dortmund were in fine form, a home loss to Bayern Munich in a match that could have reduced the gap at the top to just one point, deflated them. Bayern Munich, however, piled on victory after victory, eventually wrapping up the Bundesliga title with two games to spare.
This was Bayern Munich's eighth Bundesliga title in a row. Such has been the Bavarian giants' stranglehold on the German top-flight that it is generally considered an upset if they do not win the Bundesliga. On that note, let us have a look at the last five clubs to win the Bundesliga other than Bayern Munich.
Last five clubs other than Bayern Munich to have won the Bundesliga:
5. Borussia Dortmund
The most obvious entry in this list, Borussia Dortmund have been Bayern Munich's closest challengers for the last two decades, winning the Bundesliga title in the 2001-02 campaign before taking the first two titles of the next decade. They are the last side to beat Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title, doing so in 2010-11 and then going on to retain the title the next season.
Managed by the affable Jurgen Klopp, Dortmund's 2010-11 season did not begin well. They lost their first league match, were embarrassed by third division side Kickers Offenbach in the German Cup and failed to proceed from the group stages of the Europa League. However, a 15 match unbeaten run in the Bundesliga took them to the top of the table.
Robert Lewandowski was in the Dortmund squad, but was overshadowed by strike partner Lucas Barrios who scored 16 Bundesliga goals that season. In fact, the famed Dortmund attack did not perform as expected that season, with no one other than Barrios reaching double digit number of goals in the league. Lewandowski managed just eight, but a dynamic midfield comprising of Shinji Kagawa, Mario Gotze and Nuri Sahin took the side to the Bundesliga title with two games left to play.
Bayern Munich struggled that season, eventually finishing third behind Bayer Leverkusen, and ten points adrift of Dortmund. Dortmund would retain the Bundesliga title the next season, finishing eight points clear of Bayern Munich.
Wolfsburg were a revelation in the 2008-09 Bundesliga season. Finishing as low as 15th in 2007-08, the hiring of ex- Bayern Munich manager Felix Magath changed the fortunes of the Volkswagen-owned club. 'Die Wolfe' went on full throttle after the winter break in 08-09 , winning 10 Bundesliga games in a row to eventually beat Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title by just two points.
While the league table that season seemed to indicate a close title race, Wolfsburg's attacking trident of Grafite, Edin Dzeko and Zvjezdan Misimovic blew away their Bayern Munich counterparts.
Grafite won the Golden Boot with 28 goals whereas Bayern Munich's top scorer Luca Toni scored just half the number of goals that Grafite did. Dzeko added a further 26, with the Wolfsburg duo becoming the first Bundesliga striking partnership to score more than twenty goals apiece in a season. Zvjezdan Misimovic had the most assists in the 08-09 Bundesliga with 20, which was eight more than Bayern Munich's best player.
Wolfsburg would move down from the top of the Bundesliga table in the next few seasons, finishing eighth in 2009-10 and 15th the season after.
VfB Stuttgart were on the cusp of returning to the Bundesliga, after a 6-0 victory over Nuremberg in this week's round of matches in the second tier. That ensures that they will finish in at least the promotion play-off spots.
Stuttgart, however, don't fit the bill of a Bundesliga minnow. In fact, they have won the Bundesliga thrice, with their latest triumph in the competition coming in the 2006-07 season.
That campaign was notable for being the first time in a long while when two teams other than Bayern Munich went in to the last day of a Bundesliga season with a chance of winning the title.
Schalke seemed to have the title wrapped up, having been top of the table since Matchday 20. However, a crushing 2-0 defeat in the Revierderby against Borussia Dormund meant that Stuttgart leapfrogged Schalke with just one round of Bundesliga games remaining.
The final day of the season saw Stuttgart and Schalke taking on lower-half clubs Energie Cottbus and Arminia Bielefeld respectively. While Schalke raced to a comfortable 2-0 lead, Stuttgart found themselves trailing at home to Energie. However, Thomas Hitzlsperger equalized for VfB just before the half-hour mark, and Sami Khedira scored the winner in the 67th minute to ensure that there would be no heartbreak for Stuttgart.
Amazingly, Stuttgart won the Bundesliga title with the youngest squad among all Bundesliga teams that season. Bayern Munich finished fourth and missed out on the next season's Champions League.
2. Werder Bremen
It is surprising that Werder Bremen's Bundesliga-winning 2003-04 season isn't as much talked about as it should be. The Green Whites won the Bundesliga title that season in the most emphatic manner possible, famously beating Bayern Munich 3-1 away to seal the Bundesliga title with two games to spare. They would win the DFB Pokal as well that season, securing their only League and Cup double in their history.
Bremen were managed by former player Thomas Schaaf, who had won the Bundesliga, the German Cup and the Cup Winners Cup with his boyhood club. He would take charge of the Bremen youth squad in 1995 and later the reserves before getting the first team job in 1999. He would win six titles with Bremen and would additionally lead them to a UEFA Cup final in 2009. Schaaf would later go on to manage Eintracht Frankfurt and Hannover.
Werder Bremen's Bundesliga-winning campaign was spearheaded by Brazilian forward Ailton. A journeyman, who would go on to represent no less than 21 clubs in his career, was actually a mainstay in the Bundesliga in the early 2000s. He won the Golden Boot in the 03-04 season with 28 goals, and would eventually score more than 100 goals in his Bundesliga career.
Bremen finished six points ahead of Bayern Munich that season and would claim the runner up spot twice more in that decade.
The biggest underdog season in Bundesliga saw newly promoted FC Kaiserslautern edge Bayern Munich to the title in 1997-98. It was their fourth German top-flight title as the campaign looked ominous from the start for defending champions Bayern Munich.
Kaiserslautern's manager that season was none other than Otto Rehhagel, whom Bayern Munich had sacked the previous season. Rehhagel would later go on to mastermind the most surprising title triumph in international history - Greece's unexpected victory in the 2004 European Championship. Bayern Munich famously entertained Kaiserslautern in the very first match of that season, losing that game 0-1 at home.
Kaiser were four points ahead of Bayern Munich before the winter break but their Bundesliga title challenge was expected to wilt in the latter part of the season. But it was Bayern Munich instead who crumbled, losing their rematch with Kaiser at the latter's Fritz Walter Stadion. A 4-0 victory for Kaiserslautern over Wolfsburg on the penultimate day of the Bundesliga season, coupled with Bayern Munich's draw at Duisburg meant that Kaiserslautern won the title with a game to spare.
That season was truly remarkable in that Bayern Munich never managed to overtake Kaiser during the entirety of the campaign. Kaiserslautern remains the only team in Bundesliga history to win the German top-flight title as a newly promoted side.Published 22 Jun 2020, 04:29 IST