German Bundesliga have become one of the most interesting competitions in European football over the years and with almost half of the teams fighting for the league title and the European places, the title race tend to go to the wire. Title contenders and teams fighting for the Champions League places will be featured in this preview, while part 2 and part 3 will contain important information on mid table sides and relegation strugglers respectively. From next season, Germany will again have four teams in the Champions League. English Premier League Season Preview and French Ligue 1 Season Preview are also available.
Bayern Munich didn’t have such a poor season last term, but the Bavarians simply couldn’t keep up with the amazing Borussia Dortmund and they had to settle for the third place in the standings despite the very good finish of the league campaign. While the Bavarians haven’t brought too many players this summer, they did manage to address the key issues in the squad, with defensive signings Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng and Rafinha likely to add much needed steel to the back line. Experience coach Jupp Heynckes will also have youngsters Jennings, Petersen and Usami at his disposal, just like all key players from last season, as Miroslav Klose and Hamit Altintop were the only notable departures. Seeing that shaky defence was the biggest problem last term and that the problem has now been solved, Bayern Munich should be able to retain the Bundesliga title this season.
Last season: 3rd
Important arrivals: Manuel Neuer (Schalke), Jerome Boateng (Manchester City), Rafinha (Genoa), Takashi Usami (Gamba Osaka), Nils Petersen (Cottbus), Dale Jennings (Tranmere).
Important departures: Hamit Altintop (Real Madrid), Miroslav Klose (Lazio), Thomas Kraft, Andreas Ottl (both Hertha), Mehmet Ekici (Werder).
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Neuer – Rafinha, Boateng, Van Buyten, Lahm – Schweinsteiger, Timoschtschuk – Robben, Muller, Ribery – Gomez.
Pick: Bayern Munich to win Bundesliga title
It’s been a while since one team was as dominant in one Bundesliga campaign as Borussia Dortmund were last term, seeing that Jurgen Klopp’s team have been leading the race from the very start to the finish of the season. After winning the Bundesliga title in style, the Millionaires will have their work cut out for them as all the teams will be looking to take their scalp, while they will also have to balance between Champions League and domestic competitions, which is not going to be easy. The departure of Nuri Sahin will be a blow even if talented Ilkay Gundogan has been brought to replace him, while Ivan Perisic has yet to earn a starting place in Jurgen Klopp’s side. Borussia could be in for another successful season, but I am not convinced they will be able to mount a serious title challenge. Top 4 place is the best they can do this term.
Last season: 1st
Important arrivals: Ilkay Gundogan (Nurnberg), Ivan Perisic (Club Brugge), Moritz Leitner (1860 Munchen), Chris Lowe (Chemnitzer), Mustafa Amini (Central Coast Mariners).
Important departures: Nuri Sahin (Real Madrid), Dede (Eskisehirspor), Tamas Hajnal (Stuttgart).
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmezer – Bender, Gundogan – Gotze, Kagawa, Grosskreutz – Barrios.
Prediction: Top 3 finish
Pick: Borussia to achieve a top 3 finish
Bayer Leverkusen spent entire last season as the only team with a remote chance of catching Borussia Dortmund but just as the Werkself managed to close the gap behind the leaders, they entered the poor run of results and the title race was decided. Nonetheless, the team have got to be given credit for some excellent performances under Jupp Heynckes last season, but now that the experienced coach has returned to Munich, his replacement Robin Dutt could face too big a burden to bear. Dutt has never before managed a high-profile club and his inability to prevent the shock defeat to Dynamo Dresden in the German Cup even though Bayer were three goals up after an hour could be a sign of things to come. Without key players from last season, Arturo Vidal and Sami Hyypia and with keeper Rene Adler set to miss the opening stage of the season through injury, Bayer look unable to repeat the result from last season. They could even struggle to make it to Champions League places.
Last season: 2nd
Important arrivals: Andre Schurrle (Mainz), Omer Toprak (Freiburg), David Yelldell (Duisburg), Karim Bellarabi (Eintracht Braunschweig).
Important departures: Arturo Vidal (Juventus), Sami Hyypia (retired), Constant Djakpa (Eintracht), Domagoj Vida (Dinamo Zagreb).
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Adler – Balitsch, Reinartz, Toprak, Kadlec – Bender, Rolfes – Sam, Augusto, Schurrle – Kiessling.
Prediction: Europa League qualification
While Schalke had major problems in Bundesliga last season, the team showed a lot of potential in the strongest European competition, having hammered mighty Inter 7:3 on aggregate to reach the semi-finals of the competition. Once it became clear that Schalke would not be able to do much on domestic stage they decided to focus on Europe and that produced some excellent results. Ralf Rangnick’s side are now brimming with confidence after seeing they can match even the best sides in Europe and without the Champions League distraction, they could do a lot in Bundesliga this season. After winning the German Super Cup against Borussia Dortmund, Schalke scored 11 in the Cup win over Teningen, which wouldn’t have been such an achievement if several German giants didn’t go down at the same stage of the competition. With young Fahrmann already proving to be a great replacement for Neuer and Fuchs, Holtby and Marica adding new quality to the side, I believe Schalke can achieve Champions League qualification this term.
Last season: 14th
Important arrivals: Lewis Holtby, Christian Fuchs (both Mainz), Ralf Fahrmann (Eintracht), Marco Hoger (Alemania Aachen)
Important departures: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Angelos Charisteas (Panaitolikos), Hao Junmin (Shandong), Christian Pander (Hannover), Lukas Schmitz (Werder).
Probable starting line-up (4-1-3-2): Fahrmann – Uchida, Howedes, Papadopoulos, Fuchs – Matip – Draxler, Raul, Holtby – Farfan, Huntelaar.
Prediction: Top 4 finish
Pick: Schalke to achieve a top 4 finish
Coming on the back of a very disappointing season, Werder Bremen will be hoping for a much better Bundesliga campaign and the first signs suggest they could do much better than last term. The arrivals of Mehmet Ekici, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Aleksandar Ignjovski, Lukas Schmitz and Andreas Wolf have improved the quality of the squad, but it is the return of central defenders Naldo and Mertesacker from injury that should prove to be the biggest gain for Thomas Schaaf. With Claudio Pizarro closing in on his return from injury and Marin, Wesley and Wagner already displaying good form in pre-season, Werder Bremen fans definitely have something to hope for. The 2:1 Cup defeat to lowly Heidenheim was quickly erased with a deserved friendly win over Everton, so the team enter this season on a high after all. Werder are likely to enter the race for the Champions League places, and maybe top 4 finish is a realistic possibility.
Last season: 13th
Important arrivals: Aleksandar Ignjovski (1860 Munchen), Mehmet Ekici (Bayern Munich), Lukas Schmitz (Schalke), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Genoa), Andreas Wolf (Nurnberg).
Important departures: Petri Pasanen (Salzburg), Torsten Frings (Toronto), Peter Niemeyer (Hertha).
Probable starting line-up (4-1-3-1): Wiese – Fritz, Mertesacker, Papastathopoulos, Schmitz – Ignjovski– Wesley, Ekici, Marin – Pizarro, Arnautovic.
Prediction: Top 4 finish
Pick: Werder to achieve a top 4 finish
Last season was a real rollercoaster ride for Wolfsburg as the team narrowly managed to avoid relegation to Bundesliga 2. However, the Wolves clearly have a lot of room for improvement and the players could benefit from having full pre-season to work with new boss Felix Magath. The squad did undergo certain changes this summer, with Grafite, Riehter, Ziani and Cicero all leaving, but the club have brought some very good players in Patrick Ochs, Srdjan Lakic, Marco Russ, Hasan Salihamidzic and Christian Trasch. Wolfsburg did suffer a disappointing exit from the German Cup, but they also hammered Hamburg 5:1 and played 2:2 with Villarreal in pre-season, hinting they were ready for big things this term. With the disruptive influence that is Diego set to leave the club, Wolfsburg should have much better atmosphere in the squad this season and that could be a welcoming bonus. I believe Werder have the quality to ensure European qualification through league finish.
Last season: 15th
Important arrivals: Patrcik Ochs (Eintracht), Srdjan Lakic (Kaiserslautern), Mateusz Klich (Cracovia), Hasan Salihamidzic (Juventus), Marco Russ (Eintracht), Christian Trasch (Stuttgart).
Important departures: Karim Ziani (Al Jaish), Sascha Riehter (Koln), Cicero (Sao Paulo), Nassim Ben Khalifa (Young Boys), Grafite (Al Ahli), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim)
Probable starting line-up (4-4-2): Benaglio – Ochs, Kjaer, Russ, Schafer – Salihamidzic, Trasch, Josue, Hasebe – Mandzukic, Lakic.
Prediction: Top 6 finish
Pick: Wolfsburg to achieve a top 4 finish