German Bundesliga Preview pt.1
*Last Season;’ 9th (14 wins, 7 draws, 13 losses)*Top Scorer;’ Patrick Helmes (21 goals)
The youthful Leverkusen squad will be hoping to improve on last season’s midtable finish under their new experienced boss Jupp Heynckes. But a knee ligament injury to gun striker Helmes, which will sideline him for the first half of the season, is a major blow.
Nevertheless, 25-year-old striker Stefan Kiessling is capable of leading the line alongside new Swiss international signing Eren Derdiyok. Sami Hyypia arrives from Liverpool to add experience to their defence with excellent young German international goalkeeper Rene Adler behind him.
Leverkusen impressed at times last season and should be capable of pushing on, but being without Helmes for so long, you’d think at best they’ll challenge for a European place.
Fantasy Gun; Tranquillo Barnetta
*Last Season;’ 2nd (20-7-7)*Top Scorer;’ Luca Toni (14)
After last season’s inconsistency under Jurgen Klinsmann before the eventual disappointment of finishing runners-up, Bayern are intent on winning back the German title. A €30 million splash on VfB Stuttgart striker Mario Gomez in late-May and the appointment of Dutch Eredivisie title winning manager Louis van Gaal is evidence enough of that.
And Gomez, who scored 24 goals last season and won the February, April and May player of the month awards, will undoubtedly boost Bayern’s hopes, but it’s the future of French international Franck Ribery which is the major issue at the Allianz Arena.
Whether or not Ribery stays could be crucial in their title challenge as he is the team’s best attacking weapon. But with nothing having developed yet it seems he’ll spend another season in Munich. Add to that the signings of Danijel Pranjic, Anatoliy Tymoschuk and Ivica Olic and Bayern look dangerous.
Van Gaal has certainly changed things around at Bayern since his arrival earlier in the European summer. The departures of unwanted Brazilian pair Ze Roberto and Lucio shouldn’t be underestimated and the goalkeeping situation remains unresolved. But Van Gaal is a shrewd boss and Bayern still look strong so they should be considered title favourites.
Fantasy Gun; Franck Ribery
*Last Season;’ 14th (7-11-16)*Top Scorer; ‘Stanislav Šesták (9)
Bochum’s Swiss trainer Marcel Koller will be under plenty of pressure this season. Koller publicly claimed last season’s squad was the best he’d had at Bochum and targeted a season tally of 45 points, yet the club went onto narrowly avoid relegation.
Goals were hard to come by for Bochum last season yet the club have only added Slovenian striker Zlatko Dedic to their attack in the summer. Argentinean hitman Diego Klimowicz joined in the last January transfer window and helped their case but there are some worries for Bochum.
More is needed from midfield guns like Christian Fuchs, Paul Freier and Joel Epalle this season otherwise Bochum’s flirting with relegation might turn into reality.
Fantasy Gun; Christoph Dabrowski
*Last Season;’ 6th (15-14-5)*Top Scorer;’ Alexander Frei (12)
Having agonizingly missed out on a European place last season, Dortmund will be eager to bounce back under the stable guidance of popular boss Jürgen Klopp. Last season, BVB were the draw specialists and they’ll be hoping to fix that situation by turning those results into victories.
Defensively last term, Dortmund were quite solid with custodian Roman Weidenfeller and goalscoring centre-back Neven Subotic the standouts. Much will be expected of impressive Polish midfielder Kuba Blaszczykowski this season, while newboy Markus Feulner is a handy addition from promoted Mainz. Up front Dortmund are spoilt for choice, with a fit Alexander Frei important to their hopes of pushing on.
Dortmund were undefeated at Signal Iduna last season but they were frustrated by too many home draws and that’ll be the focus for this season. Remedy that situation and they could challenge for a long-awaited return to the UEFA Champions League.
Fantasy Gun; Neven Subotic
*Last Season;’ 15th*Top Scorer;’ Rob Friend (7)
Avoiding the drop last season was a big achievement for Borussia but now without the wise guidance of veteran trainer Hans Meyer (retired) or the creativity of young midfield guns Marko Marin (Werder) and Alexander Baumjohann (Bayern) they’ll face another challenging year. The new boss is Michael Frontzeck who was fired by relegated Arminia Bielefeld in May.
Encouragingly, Borussia have spent some of the €8.2million they collected from Marin’s sale on signing Juan Arango, arguably Venezuela’s best ever player, from Spanish La Liga club Real Mallorca. Arango’s arrival is a real coup for the club. Along with Venezuelan, a lot will be expected of American midfielder Michael Bradley. Also January arrivals, Logan Bailly and Bonfim Dante, aided their cause last term and they’ll hope to push on with a full season to impress.
Last season Borussia lacked a striker who could score regularly and their transfer activity so far seems to not have resolved that situation with their hopes pinned on Argentinean signing Raul Bobadilla. Indeed, Mönchengladbach look set for another difficult season avoiding the bottom three.
**Fantasy Gun; **Juan Arango
*Last Season;’ 13th (8-9-17)*Top Scorer;’ Nikos Liberopoulos (9)
After a rather uneventful campaign Eintracht have replaced Friedhelm Funkel with former Galatasaray boss Michael Skibbe ahead of the new season. And into their fifth season back in the top flight perhaps Frankfurt fans will be hoping for more than consolidation this season.
The loss of the impressive Michael Fink to Turkey is a blow but Karlsruhe captain Maik Franz arrives along with handy midfielder Selim Teber from Hoffenheim. The fitness of skipper Ioannis Amanatidis will help Eintracht’s hopes of improvement along with the continued development of quality youngsters Martin Fenin and Markus Steinhofer.
Finishing in the top-half would be a realistic goal for Eintracht this term but the locals at Commerzbank-Arena should get some joy out of watching Fenin and Steinhofer create goals and improve as players.
Fantasy Gun; Markus Steinhofer
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