The German Bundesliga kicks-off this weekend with Bayern Munich and Schalke 04 the favourites, but anything can happen in Germany as Wolfsburg and Stuttgart will testify.
Last season; Champions’‘Most goals; Arjen Robben (16)'’Most assists; Thomas Mueller (11)
After a slow start under Louis van Gaal last term, Bayern stormed home from Christmas to claim the Bundesliga title by five points from their nearest rival Schalke 04.
Ins’‘Breno (loan return from 1. FC Nuremberg), Edson Braafheid (loan return from Celtic F.C.), Andreas Ottl (loan return from 1. FC Nuremberg), José Ernesto Sosa (loan return from Estudiantes de la Plata), Toni Kroos (loan return from Bayer 04 Leverkusen)'’Outs’‘Michael Rensing (released), Luca Toni (to Genoa C.F.C., previously on loan at AS Roma), Andreas Görlitz (to FC Ingolstadt), Christian Lell (to Hertha BSC), Mehmet Ekici (on loan to 1. FC Nuremberg), Georg Niedermeier (to VfB Stuttgart, previously on loan)Kroos’ return is a boost, while they’ve let some out-of-favour big names move on.Sports Pundit prediction; Champions'’Key player; Arjen Robben’‘Player to watch; Franck Ribery’’
Van Gaal worked wonders at the Allianz Arena last term and it’s hard to see much changing.
Last season; Runners-up’‘Most goals; Kevin Kuranyi (18)'’Most assists; Jefferson Farfan (10)
Felix Magath came in and pushed Schalke towards a title challenge last season but ultimately they fell short. A tight defence was the key, while Kevin Kuranyi’s goals helped in attack.
Ins’‘Sergio Escudero (from Real Murcia), Tim Hoogland (from 1. FSV Mainz 05), Raúl (from Real Madrid), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (from Olympiacos F.C.), Christoph Metzelder (from Real Madrid), Atsuto Uchida (from Kashima Antlers), Erik Jendrišek (from 1. FC Kaiserslautern)'’Outs’‘Heiko Westermann (to Hamburger SV), Tore Reginiussen (on loan to US Lecce), Marcelo Bordon (to Al-Rayyan Sports Club), Lewis Holtby (on loan to FSV Mainz 05), Mineiro (released), Gerald Asamoah (to FC St. Pauli), Zé Roberto (on loan to CR Vasco da Gama), Rafinha (to Genoa C.F.C.), Jan Morávek (on loan to 1. FC Kaiserslautern), Kevin Kurányi (to Dynamo Moscow), Carlos Zambrano (on loan to FC St. Pauli), Vicente Sánchez (to CF America)Major changes in Gelsenkirchen with stalwart defenders Bordon and Westermann key departures, while Kuranyi’s goals won’t be easily replaced. Raul, though, is a significant signing along with Metzelder.Sports Pundit prediction; Runners-up'’Key player; Manuel Neuer’‘Player to watch; Raul’’
Major squad changes makes Schalke’s success a little bit unpredictable. Under Magath’s wise stewardship they should challenge, but Bayern seem stronger and more stable.
Last season; 3rd’‘Most goals; Claudio Pizarro (16)'’Most assists; Mesut Ozil (17)
Goals were not a problem for Werder last season as they qualified for the Champions League in third place. Inconsistency and defensive worries were their downfall but Mesut Ozil was a shining light.
Ins’‘Marko Arnautović (from FC Twente, previously on loan at Internazionale), Felix Kroos (from FC Hansa Rostock)'’Outs’‘Jurica Vranješ (to SV Werder Bremen II), Mesut Özil (to Real Madrid C.F.), Aymen Abdennour (loan return to Etoile du Sahel), Peter Niemeyer (on loan to Hertha BSC), Márkó Futács (on loan to FC Ingolstadt 04), Martin Harnik (to VfB Stuttgart, previously on loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf), Carlos Alberto (to CR Vasco da Gama, previously on loan)Ozil sale to Real Madrid leaves Werder will plenty of problems to solve. Little has arrived so far, but all of a sudden there’s money to spend.Sports Pundit prediction; 4th'’Key player; Marko Marin’‘Player to watch; Marko Arnautovic’’
Werder boss Thomas Schaaf has some big decisions to make before the transfer window closes. A lot depends on that, but Ozil’s departure is a huge blow.
Last season; 4th’‘Most goals; Stefan Kiessling (21)'’Most assists; Toni Kroos (12)
Jupp Heynckes had people believing the name Neverkusen could be expelled at times last season as they challenged at the top, but eventually fell away. Stefan Kiessling was a revelation up front.
Ins’‘Michael Ballack (from Chelsea F.C.), Hanno Balitsch (from Hannover 96), Sidney Sam (from Hamburger SV), Domagoj Vida (from NK Osijek), Marcel Risse (loan return from 1. FC Nuremberg), Nicolai Jørgensen (from Akademisk Boldklub), Zvonko Pamić (from NK Karlovac)'’Outs’‘Sascha Dum (to Fortuna Düsseldorf), Tomasz Zdebel (to Alemannia Aachen), Lukas Sinkiewicz (to FC Augsburg), Theofanis Gekas (to Eintracht Frankfurt, previously on loan at Hertha BSC), Toni Kroos (loan return to FC Bayern Munich), Jens Hegeler (on loan to 1. FC Nürnberg, previously on loan at FC Augsburg), Athanasios Petsos (on loan to FC Kaiserslautern), Zvonko Pamić (on loan to SC Freiburg)The arrival of German superstar Ballack is the major news while Kroos’ departure is a blow.Sports Pundit prediction; 5th'’Key player; Michael Ballack’‘Player to watch; Patrick Helmes’’
There’s plenty of reason for optimism at the Bay Arena, but realistically challenging for the title is a stretch. They really need to improve their away form.
Last season; 5th’‘Most goals; Lucas Barrios (19)'’Most assists; Mohamed Zidan & Nuri Sahin (7)
Last season; 12th’‘Most goals; Marco Reus & Roel Brouwers (8)'’Most assists; Juan Arango (9)
Last season; 10th’‘Most goals; Alexander Meier (10)'’Most assists; Patrick Ochs (8)
Last season; 14th’‘Most goals; Mohamadou Idrissou (9)'’Most assists; Mohamadou Idrissou & Julian Schuster (4)
Last season; 7th’‘Most goals; Mladen Petric (8)'’Most assists; Eljero Elia (7)
Last season; 15th’‘Most goals; Didier Ya Konan (9)'’Most assists; Arnold Bruggink (6)
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Last season; 11th’‘Most goals; Vedad Ibisevic (12)'’Most assists; Carlos Eduardo (9)
Last season; Champions in 2.Bundesliga’‘Most goals; Erik Jendrisek (15)**Most assists; Alexander Bugera (11)’
Last season; 13th’‘Most goals; Milivoje Novakovic (6)'’Most assists; Lukas Podolski (4)
Last season; 9th’‘Most goals; Aristide Bance (10)'’Most assists; Andreas Ivanschitz (6)
Last season; 16th’‘Most goals; Albert Bunjaku (12)'’Most assists; Marcel Risse (7)
Last season; Runners-up in 2.Bundesliga’‘Most goals; Marius Ebbers (20)'’Most assists; Deniz Naki (10)
Last season; 6th’‘Most goals; Cacau (13)'’Most assists; Sami Khedira & Cacau (5)
Last season; 8th’‘Most goals; Edin Dzeko (22)'’Most assists; Zjvezdan Misimovic (15)