After a comparatively disappointing Euro 2016 and narrowly missing out on a Gold Medal at the Olympics, German football fans will once again find reasons to bring out their renowned passion and cheer for their teams as the Bundesliga returns from this weekend.
Vociferous crowds, young players with boundless talent on display, and competitiveness matched by very few leagues in the world, Bundesliga 2016/17 looks to be as thrilling as its predecessors. Sportskeeda looks forward to the top three matches of the opening round of the Bundesliga 2016/17 season.
1) Bayern Munich vs Werder Bremen
It’s a new area at Bayern Munich as they look to get their hands on the Champions League trophy and have got the one man who is a specialist at winning the coveted crown. Carlo Ancelotti's reign began with a signal of intent at the close of last season as they signed one of the hottest young players in Renato Sanches for what seems to be a bargain of €35 million, post his Euro 2016 heroics.
More importantly, they have shored up their defence with the return of the prodigal son Mats Hummels (it seems to be the trend of the transfer season) for an undisclosed amount which is rumoured to be close to the Sanches fee. They have already notched up their first trophy of the season with a trophy that eluded Pep Guardiola in his last two seasons at the club – the German Supercup where they beat bitter rivals Borussia Dortmund.
Don Carlo’s brief is simple, to do what his predecessor was unable to attain and bring the famous Champions League trophy back to Bavaria without losing out on domestic supremacy.
They will be given a hard challenge by Werder Bremen who were looming around the danger of relegation for quite a while, but will be buoyed this season by a spirited end to the last one and some considerable strengthening to the squad with the additions of Niklas Moisander from Sampdoria and the mercurial Max Kruse from Wolfsburg. It should be an entertaining kickoff to another engrossing season.
2) Borussia Monchengladbach vs Bayer Leverkusen
One of the most pulsating matches in the Bundesliga season, Gladbach vs Leverkusen has always been a personification and shining example of all the values that the Bundesliga is famous for. A fixture that is revered across the land for the entertainment and sheer energy, this is not one to be missed.
After a disastrous start to last season, Lucian Favre finally bid goodbye to the Borussia Park. The baton was passed on to Andre Schubert who guided the team from the depths of hovering around the relegation zone, to the sparkling form they had continuously shown under Favre and they ultimately accomplished the coveted 4th Champions League spot.
Pre- season saw them lose the versatile Havard Nordtveit and their source of strength in midfield, Granit Xhaka to London clubs West Ham Utd. and Arsenal respectively but the Foals have a tendency to rise back when they are apparently against the wall.
Roger Schmidt’s Leverkusen are a joy to behold in their finest hour. Uber fast one touch football with extreme pressing can lead to inconsistency at times, but when executed perfectly it is nothing short of a work of art.
The fact that Gladbach have given the responsibility to replace Xhaka to the recently former Leverkusen man Christoph Kramer should add further spice to an engrossing midfield battle. Leverkusen have also signed the consistent Kevin Volland to either partner or play second fiddle to the reinvigorated Chicharito Hernandez who was shunned out from Manchester Utd.
Although the odds are in Gladbach’s favour as they have the better home record, this seems to be Leverkusen’s best chance in years to get a victory at Borussia Park.
3) Borussia Dortmund vs Mainz
Completing our list of the most anticipated opening round of fixtures is Thomas Tuchel’s current side against his feisty former employers, FSV Mainz 05.
Tuchel’s teams are known for their incisive passing and precision. However his rebuilding of Dortmund will have to start afresh as the core group of Ilkay Gundogan, Mats Hummels, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Henrikh Mkhitaryan have all left.
The club, however, has brought in a group of exciting young talents in Ousmane Dembele, Emre Mor, Marc Bartra, Raphael Guerreiro; Bundesliga regulars Sebastian Rode and Andre Schurrle, and the cherry on the cake - a returning Mario Gotze.
As a result, what separates this Dortmund unit from its predecessors is a very effective squad depth which will certainly heighten expectations from fans and the team itself will be rearing to go and snatch domestic supremacy from Bayern as well as pose a legitimate threat to Europe’s elite.
After the departure of Shinji Okazaki to Leicester City, not many expected Mainz to maintain their fervour. But true to their policy, the club started with former youth team head coach Martin Schmidt in his first full season as the boss (a policy of giving one of their own a chance to lead from the dugout). After a fantastic season, Mainz now face the task of having to overcome the team which beat them 2-0 both home and away last season.