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Bundesliga starts with Bayern Munich as big favorite

Bayern Munich kicks off the Bundesliga season in the familiar role of favorite for a historic fourth consecutive title despite questions hanging over the future of coach Pep Guardiola.

No Bundesliga team has won four straight titles and if any team can do it, it’s the current Bayern side. Guardiola’s team has bolstered its already loaded squad and few expect anything but another title. In a poll conducted by Kicker magazine, 16 of 18 Bundesliga coaches saw Bayern as champion again, with two undecided.

Bayern finished last season 10 points ahead of Wolfsburg, which again is likely to be the nearest challenger. Borussia Dortmund could return to the group of pursuers again after struggling last season.

The season kicks off Friday in Munich, when Bayern hosts Hamburger SV, a team that barely escaped relegation in a playoff and that got eliminated from the German Cup by fourth-tier Jena last weekend. Not to mention that Hamburg lost 8-0 the last time it visited Munich.

Bayern captain Philipp Lahm thinks his team is unstoppable. “If the team is hungry and willing, and has enough energy, there can be no other German champion,” he said ahead of the opening match.

The question of the coach

Coach Pep Guardiola has left fans and Bayern officials second-guessing about his future. Guardiola is in the final season of his three-year deal and raised eyebrows recently by saying that he wasn’t fully convinced of being the “right man” in charge and that three years at a club are a “long time.” Bayern is keen to keep Guardiola but director Matthias Sammer has said the club would not fall apart if the coach leaves.

Guardiola won the domestic double in his first season and the Bundesliga title last season, while his team was eliminated in the semifinals of the Champions League both seasons.

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