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Bayern Munich's domestic dominance makes Europe the real challenge for Germany's goliaths

11:00 GMT+3 18/08/2017
Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich
Carlo Ancelotti's side are expected to easily win the Bundesliga, meaning that the priority this season will be to challenge for the Champions League

This season, Bayern Munich could win their sixth Bundesliga title in a row, having dominated German football for the past few years. Such is their status domestically, that Bayern winning their 28th league title is almost taken for granted. Anything less than another league win would be a disaster for Carlo Ancelotti's side, and Europe is where their true impact will be assessed.

Bayern 6/1 with dabblebet to win CL

Bayern fans have become so accustomed to winning that even their pre-season friendly performances were seen as disastrous for Ancelotti. Having begun their summer campaign with four comfortable wins against fellow German clubs, they struggled to replicate those results when pitted against European sides, with their International Champions Cup performances leaving a lot to be desired.

A win against Chelsea was a rare bright spot, but defeats to the likes of Milan, Napoli and Liverpool caused people around the club to question Ancelotti - even before the season had begun. Champions League-winning goalkeeper Oliver Kahn said that the results put the Italian in the spotlight.

"Of course Carlo Ancelotti is under observation," Kahn told Kicker. "The benchmark is the Champions League, as with [Ancelotti's predecessor] Pep Guardiola, but also, the integration of young players into the team is a criterion."

Long the home of some of the biggest names in the Germany international team, Bayern brought in two of the brightest young prospects in the Bundesliga with Niklas Sule and Sebastian Rudy moving from top-four side Hoffenheim. Integrating these two into the side will please the higher-ups in Munich, but the real test will be in Europe.

Before PSG made their explosive move for Neymar, Bayern Munich went under the radar to bring in James Rodriguez from Real Madrid. Rumours of a move for Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez were regularly played down before they announced the signing of the Colombia international. Lyon's Corentin Tolisso also moved for €41.5 million, but neither player has truly impressed in pre-season.

Unlike some of their rivals in the Champions League, the German giants have not seen some of their biggest names poached by other European challengers. However, the retirements of Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso will undoubtedly have a major impact. Joshua Kimmich is highly regarded by Germany manager Joachim Low, and despite his versatility, can fill in at just one of the two vacant spots - most likely at right-back in place of Lahm.

Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are both coming towards the end of their careers, at 33 and 34 years old respectively, meaning much will be expected of James, Kingsley Coman and last season's top scorer Robert Lewandowski. The Polish striker is already off the mark for 2017-18, having netted twice in the 5-0 DFB Pokal first round victory over 3. Liga side Chemnitzer.

Lewandowski's prowess in front of goal is sure to continue, but Ancelotti needs fan favourite Thomas Muller to bounce back from a disappointing season to stand any chance of competing in the Champions League knockout stages.

Muller is just four goals shy of 100 Bundesliga goals, but the club's vice-captain netted just five times in the league last season after scoring 20 in 2015-16. His European haul of three goals in nine appearances was also a poor return for the 27-year-old one-club man.

With RB Leipzig refusing to give in to pressure and sell key players Naby Keita and Emil Forsberg, they will compete with Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table, but Die Roten's squad should ensure that Leipzig and BVB will compete for second place, with another title heading back to Munich.

Should he stay in the hotseat for the full season, Ancelotti will add another trophy to his collection with the Bundesliga title, while domestic cup success is also more than achievable, but his days could be numbered as Bayern president Uli Hoeness refuses to spend the same way as other top clubs. Former midfielder Stefan Effenberg believes that Bayern's austere approach could ensure that the club will fail to compete at the highest level.

"It will not be easy for Bayern - quite the contrary," Effenberg told T-Online. "You see how other teams are improving when €222m is invested in Neymar.

"Paris are certainly now among the favourites for the Champions League. They are hungry and have other options. If Uli Hoeness then publicly says 'No, we are not ready to pay', but what's happening continues, then the gap between these clubs is growing."

Effenberg concedes that Bayern Munich may not win the Champions League in the next decade, but with Bundesliga success now secondary to Europe, Ancelotti may find that he needs to win it this season or find himself looking for new employment.

Bayern Munich's squad is surely too strong to have any problems in Germany, but Hoeness will need to open the chequebook or find Die Roten left behind by their Champions League rivals.