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Opinion

Not just a win for Borussia Dortmund but a win for the Bundesliga

Dortmund's Der Klassiker win puts them back in title contention. But more than that, it proves this year's Bundesliga will be a race and not a procession. That's good for (nearly) everyone, writes DW's Matt Pearson.

You could be forgiven for thinking there's been an error in calculating the Bundesliga table, a name other than Bayern Munich's at the top is so unfamiliar as to be almost unbelievable. The Bavarians have relinquished their status as leaders for the first time in 39 matchdays, with new boys RB Leipzig the usurpers.

It's difficult to overstate the importance of Saturday's win for Dortmund. Had they lost, they would've slipped nine points behind the top two. As it is, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's early goal gave Thomas Tuchel a first league win over Bayern and means a one horse race looks unlikely.

Bayern have won the last four German titles with an average points gap to the second placed team of 16. Last season they went top after game 6 and didn't relinquish their spot. The season before that it was round 5.

Dortmund get their groove back

Now, in Dortmund and RB Leipzig, they look to have two genuine challengers. Dortmund are always expected to compete at the top end but they struggled to adapt to the close season loss of their spine early in the campaign. Consecutive wins suggest that they've got their groove back and new signings Andre Schürrle and Mario Götze were among those at the heart of their fluid attacking play on Saturday.

Unbeaten Leipzig are more of a surprise. But they have an well-drilled side who have played together for some time, no distractions from European competition or the German Cup and the ability to dip in to the Red Bull riches if they fancy an addition or two in January. Right now it doesn't appear they need any – the east German side look like potential title winners and their record signing Oliver Burke is barely getting a start.

Even unfashionable and unbeaten Hoffenheim, solid Hertha Berlin and Anthony Modeste-inspired Cologne are within a handful of points of Bayern, though those three don't look to have quite the same potential or squad depth as the teams in second and third.

All this can only be positive for the Bundesliga. Fans of other clubs must be sick of competing for the consolation prize of European football and a more competitive league is surely a more marketable league. Bayern's home game with Leipzig on December 21 is now a game that will attract worldwide interest.

Bundesliga | Borussia Dortmund - Bayern München

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's goal was enough for Dortmund to beat Bayern

All that is probably not especially welcome news for Carlo Ancelotti and his men. As well as opening up the league, multiple challengers to their crown could have a knock on effect in the competition they want to win the most.

Competition will impact Bayern's European chances

Ancelotti was brought in as a Champions League specialist after Pep Guardiola failed to secure Europe's biggest prize, but he'll have his work cut out now. In the last few campaigns, Bayern have been able to take their foot off the gas towards the business end of the Bundesliga season to concentrate on Europe, safe in the knowledge that dropping a few points here and there was unlikely to impact their domestic supremacy. If Leipzig and Dortmund can stay the pace – and that's still a big if after just 11 games – that won't be a luxury they can afford this time round.

Alternatively, the pressure could be good for Bayern - sharpening their focus in April and May could help them overcome the final hurdles of the Champions League that have vexed them so much in recent years.

Whether Bayern are happy or not, for the rest of the league – and, importantly, for fans both in Germany and abroad – competition is healthy. And, undoubtedly, good.

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