Dortmund odds-on favorite to win league
The German Bundesliga is back in full swing after its winter break, and the chief question is whether leader Borussia Dortmund can keep up its blistering pace at the top of the table.
Dortmund has earned 47 of a possible 57 points in its first 19 matches this season. It is 11 points clear of its main pursuer, Bayer Leverkusen.
In the past four seasons, the highest percentage of total possible points by a Bundesliga champion was Bayern Munich in 2007-08 with 78.5 percent. ESPN's Soccer Power Index, a predictive algorithm designed to forecast future soccer matches, simulated the remainder of the Bundesliga season 10,000 times. SPI predicts there is a 96.7 percent chance that Dortmund will win the Bundesliga, but it will not collect the same percentage of points over its final 15 games. Dortmund, which won the last of its six Bundesliga titles in the 2001-02 season, is predicted to finish with an average of 80 points out of 102 possible points, or 78.4 percent, which would be more than 10 points better than the predicted second- and third-place finishers, Bayern Munich (63.9 percent) and Bayer Leverkusen (60.3 percent).
If it wins the Bundesliga, Dortmund would automatically qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League next season. It looks like Bayern Munich (91.2 percent) and Bayer Leverkusen (72.5 percent) will fight it out for the final automatic qualifying position slotted for the Bundesliga. The third-place side in the Bundesliga must progress through a qualifying round to reach the Champions League group stage.
At the other end of the table, only one of the bottom three sides in the Bundesliga, VfB Stuttgart, has a good chance to avoid relegation, according to the SPI. Borussia Monchengladbach (99.2 percent), St. Pauli (91.3 percent) and Cologne (56 percent) are tipped for relegation according to SPI, while Stuttgart, currently second from the bottom, has an 18.6 percent relegation chance. This is likely because of their superior goal differential (minus-2) compared to other fellow bottom-dwelling clubs (minus-48 combined).
Jason York is a Statistics Associate who covered the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He was born in Stuttgart, Germany.