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Aug 20, 2012

Dortmund, Bayern expect open title race

Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp and Bayern Munich boss Jupp Heynckes believe there will be more than just two challengers for the Bundesliga title this season.

Dortmund finished eight points ahead of Bayern last season as they won the championship, with the Bavarians a further nine points ahead of third-placed Schalke.

However, speaking to kicker, both managers expressed their belief that the 2012-13 campaign will see a tighter title race with more teams gunning for top spot.

"The battle between Bayern and Dortmund is a wonderful situation for the media," Heynckes said. "But we should not be as presumptuous as to consider a battle only between those two clubs. The Bundesliga is more exciting than the Spanish Primera Division.

"Schalke will be in the mix. Monchengladbach, Leverkusen are strong, Stuttgart, Bremen, Hannover - and most likely one or two teams we are not thinking about right now will impress as well."

Klopp, whose Dortmund team breezed past fourth division team Oberneuland in the first round of the DFB Pokal this weekend, said: "I can think of several teams stepping into the title race. Take Bayer Leverkusen or Schalke; also VfB Stuttgart or Borussia Monchengladbach. Certainly you can include Bayern and us as well."

Asked about his side's aims for the forthcoming season, Klopp claimed Dortmund "want to qualify for Champions League - nothing more and nothing less", adding: "If we manage to play the football which made Borussia Dortmund successful over the past few years, the season will become a success, whether titles are won or not."

The pressure is certainly greater for Heynckes, who is attempting to lead Bayern to a first league title since 2010.

"The expectations in Munich are different," Heynckes said. "We were in two finals and finished the league as runners up. But nobody spoke of success. Thus we all know we have to do it better this season.

"I don't know if we are going to win it. But we will do everything imaginable for it. We will try to be even better than last season and then … let's find out".

Heynckes played down the importance of Bayern's German Super Cup victory over Dortmund, however, adding: "We did not win a single point in the league by beating Dortmund. But it was good for us - we finally beat Dortmund again."

The 50th Bundesliga season will kick off with the match between title holders Dortmund and Werder Bremen at the Westfalenstadion this Friday. Bayern take on second division outfit Jahn Regensburg in the DFB Pokal on Monday and start their Bundesliga campaign with an away match at newly-promoted SpVgg Greuter Fuerth.

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