There are no good reasons to believe Bayern Munich won't win the Bundesliga, which kicks off this weekend. The team has done it every year since 2013. The players seem to like one another — never a guarantee at Bayern — and they also seem to like the coach, a rarity for Die Roten. They've won 30 of their past 31 matches, collecting the European Cup along the way.
What's left to say? Let's speculate on what would have to go wrong for them to avoid it.
First, striker Robert Lewandowski, 32, and attacking partner Thomas Müller, 31, could begin to show signs of age. It sure didn't happen last year. Lewandowski scored an astonishing 55 goals in all competitions, while Müller added 14 and 26 assists. As long as they stay healthy, Bayern will be dangerous.
Second, the team's defensive spine could wobble. This seems like it has more potential of actually happening. FCB let midfielder Thiago join Liverpool, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has been unsettled by the arrival of his potential replacement, and center backs Jerome Boateng and David Alaba are in contract years.
Even if both things happen, though, Bayern will probably still find a way to lift the trophy. It's the Bayern way. But as the season begins, it's only the remote possibility of unlikely events that gives any hope to the rest of the league.
• Borussia Dortmund is the only other Bundesliga team with a prayer of competing for the title, but BVB might have assembled the best young attacking talent in Europe to make an attempt. American Gio Reyna, 17, is still in the mix. He scored in Dortmund's first match of the season, a 5-0 victory over MSV Duisburg in the German Cup.
• Serie A also kicks off this weekend. The story this year is Juventus' search for a 10th consecutive title under new manager Andrea Pirlo, an all-world player but one who's never coached at any level. Also in Juventus colors this year is 22-year-old American Weston McKennie, the midfielder who earned a big-money move from Schalke to Juve this season. He'll be the first American to play for the "Old Lady."
NWSL: Orlando at North Carolina, noon Saturday, Ch. 4. Orlando hasn't played a match since last October, after a series of positive COVID tests — most inaccurate, as it turned out — removed it from the NWSL's summer Challenge Cup. The Pride kicks off 2020 against North Carolina, the best team in the league. It will do so without Alex Morgan, who signed a short-term deal with Tottenham Hotspur in England.
Writer Jon Marthaler gives you a recap of recent events and previews the week ahead. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org