The football action in Germany is set to resume this weekend as the 54th edition of Bundesliga will commence on Friday, August 26th. Last term, it was Bayern Munich who won the title for a record 26th time.
They are the most successful German football club and it is now up to their new manager Carlo Ancelotti to carry this legacy forward.
Borussia Dortmund under Thomas Tuchel are slowly building an exciting, young squad with experienced stars like Reus, Gotze and Aubameyang to challenge Bayern’s dominance.
Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Schalke 04 will mostly fight it out for Champions League positions, but may spring a surprise and challenge higher.
Bayern will be starting this season as the favorites. They have undoubtedly got a high prolific squad, which is sure to impress the fans and dominate the season. They are being led by a man who has won the Champions League three times and has managed the likes of Juventus, Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Paris Saint-Germain.
Ancelotti's first few signings were done with the intention of strengthening the core of the team. Mats Hummels and Renato Sanches were brought from Borussia Dortmund and Benfica respectively, and Mario Gotze was sold to Dortmund.
Last season, it was Robert Lewandowski who was the side's leading goal scorer and is expected to play in the same vein this year too. Apart from him, Arturo Vidal too managed to impress the critics, as he maintained a passing accuracy of 90% and contributed with five assists to his term.
Arjen Robben is set to make a strong comeback to the team after having a frustrating season last year due to injury.
Borussia Dortmund are the only side in the league who are capable of giving Bayern Munich a run for their money. Last season, they finished second, missing out on the top by 10 points. Nonetheless, Thomas Tuchel has done a splendid job since taking over from Jurgen Klopp.
This year, the club has spent a little over €100 million on eight players, revamping the squad completely. Their big signings of the summer for Dortmund were Andre Schurrle and Gotze, along with Ousmane Dembele from Rennes.
Tuchel has also signed former Barcelona center back Marc Bartra.
However, three of their star performer from last season – Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ilkay Gundogan, and Hummels have left the club.
But, with Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still leading the charge of attack, it shouldn't be that difficult for the new side to find its rhythm.
Bayer Leverkusen finished third last season, way behind the top two with 60 points. They have retained their key striker, Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, who scored 17 goals for the club last season. Lars Bender and Karim Bellarabi also had impressive performances for the club and are sure to be regulars in the playing XI this season as well.
Roger Schmidt, Bayer Leverkusen’s manager, has also brought in Kevin Volland from Hoffenheim and Aleksandar Dragovic from Dynamo Kyiv, in an attempt to bolster their squad.
Borussia Monchengladbach finished fourth last season, but with Granit Xhaka no longer a part of the team now, it will be intriguing to see how Andre Schubert manages to fill the void.
He has already brought in Christoph Kramer and Jannik Vestergaard to fix it, but time will tell if they can replace the influential midfielder.
Action in Europe
Dortmund are back in the Champions League after a year long hiatus and definitely look strong enough to reach the round of 16, at least.
Bayern Munich, on the other hand, will be starting the Champions League season as one of the favorite ones to lift the trophy, along with Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Schalke 04 and Mainz 05 will be playing in the Europa League, and they should be able to get past the group stage comfortably. Schalke 04 have a new manager in the dugout - Markus Weinzierl, who has already done wonders to the team as he took them through to victories by scores of 6-1, 13-0, 9-1 in the pre-season friendlies.
They also have a new signing - youngster Breel Embolo from FC Basel 1893, who has shown a lot of promise.
The Battle for Relegation
Lastly, the relegation battle this season will mainly be between SC Freiburg and RB Leipzig. Freiburg are coming back to the top tier after spending just a year in Bundesliga II. As for Leipzig, they are the impressive ones among the two as they reached the top tier of German football for the first time since the club’s inception in 2009.
The club rose to the top with the help of their owners Red Bull, who have spent a fortune in building a team with experienced names.
The side has been subject to a lot of hatred and criticism for buying their way to the top, but they are sure to bring in a lot of excitement too. They are being managed by the former FC Ingolstadt 04 man Ralph Hasenhuttl.
The upcoming season of Bundesliga is going to be nothing short of excitement.
Here’s the predicted table at the end of the season.
1. Bayern Munich
2. Borussia Dortmund
3. Bayer Leverkusen
4. Schalke 04
5. Borussia Monchengladbach
6. Mainz 05
7. Vfl Wolfsburg
8. Hertha BSC
9. Hamburger SV
10. FC Koln
11. FC Augsburg
12. RB Leipzig
13. FC Augsburg
15. Darmstadt 98
16. Werder Bremen
17. Darmstadt 98
18. Eintracht Frankfurt