by Alastair Bull

As with most of the leading European soccer leagues, there is a standout favorite in Germany’s Bundesliga, which kicks off this weekend.

Just as Paris St-Germain, Juventus, and Manchester City are heavily favored in France, Italy, and England, respectively, most pundits will find it hard to take on Bayern Munich in Bundesliga betting.

TOP-5 OUTRIGHTS FOR 2018 BUNDELSIGA WINNER
Bayern Munich -800
Dortmund +650
RB Leipzig +5000
Schalke +5000
Leverkusen +6600
Hoffenheim +12500

Bayern Munich are seeking their seventh consecutive Bundesliga title this season. Their dominance this decade is similar to that of Juventus (seeking an eighth consecutive Serie A). But unlike the Turin team, who won a couple of titles by narrowish margins, Bayern have won their six previous titles by a minimum of 10 points, and one year their margin was 25 points – that’s more than eight wins ahead of their nearest rival.

Many of Germany’s most notable players are in the Bayern Munich squad, such as Manuel Neuer, Thomas Mueller, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich, and Niklas Sule, and they will have plenty of incentive after Germany’s disastrous showing at the 2018 World Cup.

Given that the international players include Robert Lewandowski, James Rodriguez, Arjen Robben, Corentin Tolisso, and Franck Ribery, it will be a surprise if they do not make it seven on end. Whether odds of -700 make much sense to take at the beginning of the season is another matter, but they may be the best odds you get.

The most interesting bet may be on the leading side in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich removed, and here there are some good odds.

Borussia Dortmund finished a disappointing fourth last year but they have spent up large in the off-season by German standards. Their acquisitions include Belgian World Cup midfielder Axel Witsel, 22-year-old French defender Abdou Diallo, and Danish midfielder Thomas Delaney. With a team that includes U.S. star Christian Pulisic and Japan’s Shinji Kagawa, they will be competitive, though the -120 odds look a little short.

Bayer Leverkusen finished fifth last season but they have made the notable acquisition of Brazilian striker Paulinho from Vasco da Gama. They are at about +500 to win the league excluding Bayern Munich, as are RB Leipzig, who used the money they got from selling Naby Keita to Liverpool to buy defender Marcelo Saracchi and forward Matheus Cunha.

Schalke were runners-up in the Bundesliga last year but they can be found at odds of +550 in the Bayern-excluded market. Their main activity in transfers was to offload defender Thilo Kehrer to Paris St-Germain, with their main buys being midfielder Suat Serdar and defenders Salif Sane and Hamza Mendyl. Oddsmakers may be tipping they will have trouble emulating last year’s performance while playing in the Champions League, but they do have a very solid look about them.

The only other team under +4000 in this market is 2017-18 third-place finisher Hoffenheim at +1600. They may also struggle to replicate that success this year with Champions League games ahead of them.

All these teams should also be considered in the market to finish in the top four.

PREDICTION: Schalke to win the Bundelisga Championship with Bayern Munich excluded (+550), Schalke to finish in the top four (+150).