Philipp Lahm would welcome more competition for former club Bayern Munich as they go in search of a seventh straight Bundesliga title.
Bayern kick off the Bundesliga season with a home clash against Hoffenheim on Friday night, and although Niko Kovac has replaced coach Jupp Heynckes, who came out of retirement to deliver the title last season after Carlo Ancelotti was dismissed, they are once again considered strong favourites.
Lahm, who won a record nine Bundesliga titles with Bayern before retiring in 2017, hopes that some of their rivals can run them closer this term.
“Bayern are No. 1 favourites and they will win it again, but a bit of suspense would do the Bundesliga some good with a few sides able to compete for the whole season,” Lahm told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I hope that Borussia Dortmund will get back to their former levels. Schalke have good players and you can see coach [Domenico] Tedesco’s signature.
“They’ll be up there, but with the Champions League, it’s going to be difficult for them to come second again, while I also like the look of Hoffenheim.”
Lahm believes extra competition could also benefit Bayern when it comes to the Champions League, which they last won in 2013.
He insisted it was “not because we were out of shape” that they failed to reach the final in recent years, and dismissed claims that they had not trained hard enough under Ancelotti, when they were knocked out in the quarterfinals by Real Madrid in 2017.
“Ancelotti has won everything and he’s a great coach, and I’m delighted I had him as coach, even if something wasn’t working,” Lahm said.
Meanwhile, Lahm, 34, believes Juventus are one of the favourites to win the Champions League this season following their signing of Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Juve are tactically always one of the best and they have proven they are in the small group of teams capable of winning the Champions League,” he said. “Ronaldo is a player you just can’t mark because he can strike the ball perfectly with both feet, he’s strong with his head and you just need to leave him a centimetre and he can get a shot in.
“His real strength is that almost every shot he takes is a goal.”