The new German Bundesliga kicks off on Friday August 5 so with less than a week to spare it’s time to analyse the challengers, contenders and strugglers for the upcoming campaign.
Borussia Dortmund are the reigning champions and have retained most of their squad except for Nuri Sahin who has left for Real Madrid, while Bayern Munich have Jupp Heynckes at the helm now and with Manuel Neuer in goals they’ll be ready to challenge for honours.
Last season: Champions (23 wins, 6 draws, 5 Losses, 67-22)
Topscorer: Lucas Barrios (16 goals)
Most assists: Mario Gotze (11 assists)
Trainer: Jurgen Klopp
Major Signings: Ivan Perisic (Club Brugge - €5.5m), Ilkay Gundogan (FC Nurnberg - €4m)
Major Departures: Nuri Sahin (Real Madrid - €10m), Markus Feulner (FC Nurnberg - €200k), Lasse Sobiech (St Pauli – Loan), Dede (released)
Jurgen Klopp’s current crop of young Borussia Dortmund stars face the challenge of remaining at the top after rising to become champions last term. Midfielder Nuri Sahin’s move to Real Madrid is a blow but Shinji Kagawa will be like a new signing after injury. Dortmund have retained their stellar backline with Mats Hummels the rock so BVB should challenge for the title again.
Key player: Shinji Kagawa
Last season: Runners-up (20 wins, 8 draws, 6 Losses, 64-44)
Topscorer: Arturo Vidal (10 goals)
Most assists: Arturo Vidal (11 assists)
Trainer: Robin Dutt
Major Signings: Andre Schurrle (FSV Mainz - €8m), Karim Bellarabi (Eintracht Braunschweig – Free), Omer Toprak (SC Freiburg - €3m), David Yelldell (MSV Duisburg)
Major Departures: Arturo Vidal (Juventus), Constant Djakpa (Eintracht Frankfurt – Undisclosed), Richard Sukuta-Pasu (Kaiserslautern - €300k), Marcel Risse (FSV Mainz - €800k), Sami Hyypia (retired), Tomasz Bobel (retired), Domagoj Vida (Dinamo Zagreb)
Former Mainz boss Robin Dutt takes over from Jupp Heynckes but his job has been made difficult by the departure of Chilean star Arturo Vidal to Juventus. Andre Schurrle is a good acquisition but the question is who can replace Vidal’s creativity, putting the pressure on Sidney Sam and Lars Bender. Another top three finish would be impressive.
Key player: Renato Augusto
Last season: 3rd (19 wins, 8 draws, 7 Losses, 81-40)
Topscorer: Mario Gomez (28 goals)
Trainer: Jupp Heynckes
Major Signings: Rafinha (Genoa – €7m.), Takashi Usami (Gamba Osaka – Loan), Manuel Neuer (Schalke 04 - €18m), Nils Petersen (Energie Cottbus - €2.8m), David Alaba (TSG Hoffenheim – Loan Return), Jerome Boateng (Manchester City)
Major Departures: Miroslav Klose (Lazio – Free), Hamit Altintop (Real Madrid – Free), Andreas Ottl (Hertha Berlin – Free), Thomas Kraft (Hertha Berlin – Free), Mehmet Ekici (Werder Bremen - €5m Permanent)
Bayern will be looking to bounce back after a dismal 2010-11 campaign where they went without a trophy. Getting attacking duo Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben to full fitness will be important, but scoring goals wasn’t a problem last term. Indeed, they’ve strengthened defensively with keeper Manuel Neuer and German international defender Jerome Boateng. Under Jupp Heynckes, they should challenge for the title again.
Key player: Franck Ribery
Last season: 4th (19 wins, 3 draws, 12 Losses, 49-45)
Topscorer: Didier Konan Ya (14 goals)
Most assists: Sergio Pinto & Didier Konan Ya (6 assists)
Trainer: Mirko Slomka
Major Signings: Artur Sobiech (Polonia Warsaw), Christian Pander (Schalke 04), Henning Hauger (Stabaek), Samuel Radlinger (SV Ried)
Major Departures: Florian Fromlowitz (MSV Duisburg), Constant Djakpa (Bayer Leverkusen – Loan Return), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla)
There’s cautious optimism about the new campaign for Mirko Slomka’s Hannover after their superb fourth-place finish last campaign. The team has retained striker Didier Ya Konan and skipper Steve Cherundolo along with influential players such as Konstantin Rausch, Christian Schultz and Sergio Pinto. Polish striker Artur Sobiech is a curious signing who could add goals. Hannover can expect another top-half finish.
Key player: Didier Ya Konan
Last season: 8th (12 wins, 9 draws, 13 Losses, 46-52)
Topscorer: Mladen Petric (11 goals)
Most assists: Ze Roberto (9 assists)
Trainer: Michael Oenning
Major Signings: Jeffrey Bruma (Chelsea – Loan), Goekhan Toere (Chelsea -Undisclosed), Jacopo Sala (Chelsea - €100k), Michael Mancienne (Chelsea - €2.5m), Marcus Berg (PSV Eindhoven – Loan Return), Mickael Tavares (Middlesbrough – Loan Return), Per Ciljan Skjelbred (Rosenborg)
Major Departures: Frank Rost (released), Ze Roberto (released), Piotr Trochowski (FC Sevilla – Free), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Malaga – Free), Joris Mathijsen (Malaga - €1m), Tunay Torun (Hertha Berlin – Free), Collin Benjamin (1860 Munich), David Rozehnal (Lille – Permanent), Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (FSV Mainz), Jonathan Pitroipa (Stade Rennes)
There’s been several key players depart Hamburg this off-season including Dutch pair Ruud van Nistelrooy and Joris Mathijsen, while Dutch striker Marcus Berg has returned after a loan stint in the Netherlands in a boost. However, HSV have lost plenty of stars, with Piotr Trochowski, Ze Roberto and Frank Rost a few more regular who’ve left. They’ve added a number of youngsters from Chelsea, but this is a team who appears set for a tough season.
Key player: Marcus Berg
Last season: 14th (11 wins, 7 draws, 16 Losses, 38-44)
Topscorer: Raul (13 goals)
Most assists: Jefferson Farfan (6 assists)
Trainer: Ralf Rangnick
Major Signings: Marco Hoger (Alemmania Aachen - €1.5m), Christian Fuchs (FSV Mainz - €3.8m), Ralf Fahrmann (Eintracht Frankfurt – Free), Lewis Holtby (FSV Mainz – Loan Return), Jermaine Jones (Blackburn Rovers – Loan Return), Carlos Zambrano (St Pauli – Loan Return), Jan Moravek (FC Kaiserslautern – Loan Return), Ciprian Marica (VfB Stuttgart - Free)
Major Departures: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich - €18m), Aleksandar Stevanovic (Werder Bremen – Free), Lukas Schmitz (Werder Bremen - €1m), Gerald Asamoah (released), Nicolas Plestan (released), Ali Karimi (Persepolis – Free), Angelos Charisteas (released), Christian Pander (Hannover 96)
Schalke will have renewed faith of an improved 2011-12 campaign under Ralf Rangnick after he played his part in their UEFA Champions League semi-final appearance and DFB-Pokal success last term. The departure of keeper Manuel Neuer is a blow and they’re yet to really replace him. Ciprian Marica may complement Raul up front, while Christian Fuchs is a creative addition. The Royal Blues should be much improved and could fight for a European spot.
Key player: Ralf Fahrmann
Last season: 13th (10 wins, 11 draws, 13 Losses, 47-61)
Topscorer: Claudio Pizarro & Hugo Almeida (9 goals)
Most assists: Marko Marin (9 assists)
Key player: Thomas Schaaf
Major Signings: Marcus Rosenberg (Racing Santander – Loan Return), Aleksandar Stevanovic (Schalke 04 – Free), Lukas Schmitz (Schalke 04 - €1m), Mehmet Ekici (Bayern Munich - €5m Permanent), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Genoa - Loan)
Major Departures: Peter Niemeyer (Hertha Berlin - €700k), Petri Pasanen (Red Bull Salzburg), Daniel Jensen (released), Torsten Frings (Toronto FC), Samuel (Anderlecht), Jurica Vranjes (released)
Last term was a disaster for Werder, but they’ll be boosted by the return to fitness of Brazilian defender Naldo. They’ve also added defenders Lukas Schmitz and Sokratis Papastathopoulos to provide quality in the backline after conceding 61 goals last term. Werder don’t have the money to compete with the best anymore and a midtable finish beckons.
Key player: Marko Marin
Last season: 2.Bundesliga runners-up (19 wins, 8 draws, 7 Losses, 58-27)
Topscorer: Nando Rafael (14 goals)
Most assists: Michael Thurk (9 assists)
Trainer: Jos Muhukay
Major Signings: Sebastian Langkamp (Karlsruhe SC), Patrick Mayer (FC Heidenheim), Lorenzo Davids (NEC Nijmegen), Sascha Molders (FSV Frankfurt), Dominic Peitz (Union Berlin)
Major Departures: Ibrahima Traore (VfB Stuttgart – Free), Kees Kwakman (FC Groningen), Moritz Leitner (Borussia Dortmund – Loan Return), Lukas Sinkiewicz (VfL Bochum), Michael Thurk (retired)
Jos Muhukay’s newly-promoted side have been depleted by the departures of key trio Michael Thurk, Ibrahima Traore and Kees Kwakman. With several of last season’s Bundesliga strugglers expected to improve, this is bad news for Augsburg who will do well to avoid the drop.
Key player: Uwe Mohrle
Last season: 16th (10 wins, 6 draws, 18 Losses, 48-65)
Topscorer: Marco Reus (11 goals)
Most assists: Marco Reus (8 assists)
Trainer: Lucien Favre
Major Signings: Lukas Rupp (Karlsruhe SC - €600k), Matthias Zimmermann (Karlsruhe SC - €1m), Oscar Wendt (FC Kobenhavn – Free), Joshua King (Manchester United – Loan), Mathew Leckie (Adelaide United – Free), Michael Bradley (Aston Villa – Loan Return)
Major Departures: Sebastian Schachten (St Pauli), Michael Fink (Besiktas – Loan Return), Jean-Sebastian Jaures (retired), Logan Bailly (Neuchatel Xamax – Loan), Karim Matmour (Eintracht Frankfurt), Anderson Bamba (Eintracht Frankfurt - Loan)
Lucien Favre has given the Foals much stability and they’ll hope to continue on in that way into the new campaign. The Swiss boss has signed a number of unknown youngsters but Lukas Rupp is one who’s impressed in pre-season. There’s no major departures and Moenchengladbach fans will be optimistic of a less tense Bundesliga campaign.
Key player: Marco Reus
Last season: 9th (13 wins, 5 draws, 16 Losses, 41-50)
Topscorer: Papiss Cisse (22 goals)
Most assists: Felix Bastians (5 assists)
Trainer: Marcus Sorg
Major Signings: Garra Dembele (Levski Sofia - €2.3m), Daniel Batz (FC Nurnberg – Free), Beg Ferati (FC Basel - Free)
Major Departures: Omer Toprak (Bayer Leverkusen - €3m), Simon Pouplin (released), Zvonko Pamic (Bayer Leverkusen – Loan Return), Tommy Bechmann (SonderjyskE)
The exit of boss Robin Dutt to join Leverkusen leaves Freiburg in quite the predicament after a decent ninth-place finish last term. They have done well to hang onto Senegalese striker Papiss Cisse, while Garra Dembele joins to bolster their forward options and Beg Ferati is a good addition to the defence. Freiburg will do well to finish midtable again, with Cisse’s future at the club a key to their future in the Bundesliga.
Key player: Papiss Cisse
Last season: 2.Bundesliga champions (23 wins, 5 draws, 6 Losses, 69-28)
Topscorer: Adrian Ramos (15 goals)
Most assists: Nikita Rukavytsya (12 assists)
Trainer: Markus Babbel
Major Signings: Andreas Ottl (Bayern Munich – Free), Maik Franz (Eintracht Frankfurt – Free), Peter Niemeyer (Werder Bremen - €700k Permanent), Thomas Kraft (Bayern Munich – Free), Tunay Torun (Hamburg SV – Free), Kaka (Sporting Braga - Loan)
Major Departures: Valeri Domovchiyski (MSV Duisburg), Lennart Hartmann (Alemannia Aachen), Sascha Bigalke (SpVgg Unterhaching)
Hertha are aiming to retain their top flight status this term after promotion from the second division. They’ve kept together the bulk of the squad which won the 2.Bundesliga last term, including key forwards Adrian Ramos and Pierre-Michel Lasogga. The arrival of Thomas Kraft will hopefully ease their defensive issues. They can easily finish midtable if things go right.
Key player: Pierre-Michel Lasogga
Last season: 11th (11 wins, 10 draws, 13 Losses, 50-50)
Topscorer: Gylfi Sigurdsson (9 goals)
Most assists: Sejad Salihovic (6 assists)
Trainer: Holger Stanislawski
Major Signings: Fabian Johnson (VfL Wolfsburg - €700k), Sven Schipplock (VfB Stuttgart II – Free), Prince Tagoe (Partizan Belgrade – Loan Return), Franco Zuculini (Racing – Loan Return), Knowledge Musona (Kaizer Chiefs)
Major Departures: Wilson Kamavuaka (FC Nurnberg – Free), David Alaba (Bayern Munich – Loan Return), Ramazan Ozcan (FC Ingolstadt)
Hoffenheim face a serious challenge to retain their top-flight status this term, after four years in the Bundesliga. The small town club lost Ralf Rangnick last term and haven’t really recovered, although Holger Stanislawski arrives having done a good job at St Pauli despite their relegation. Fabian Johnson should be a good addition to midfield, while Iceland’s Gylfi Sigurdsson was a star last term.
Key player: Ryan Babel
Last season: 7th (13 wins, 7 draws, 14 Losses, 48-51)
Topscorer: Srdjan Lakic (16 goals)
Most assists: Christian Tiffert (17 assists)
Trainer: Marco Kurz
Major Signings: Dorge Kouemaha (Club Brugge – Loan), Gil Vermouth (Hapoel Tel Aviv - €800k), Konstantinos Fortounis (Asteras Tripolis - €800k), Richard Sukuta-Pasu (Bayer Leverkusen - €300k), Olcay Cahan (MSV Duisburg – Free), Itay Shechter (Hapoel Tel Aviv)
Major Departures: Philipp Klement (FC Nurnberg – Free), Srdjan Lakic (VfL Wolfsburg – Free), Jan Moravek (Schalke 04 – Loan Return), Erwin Hoffer (Napoli – Loan Return)
The signing of promising Israel forward Itay Shechter is a major coup for Kaiserslautern, who lost topscorer Srdjan Lakic to Wolfsburg. However, a lot depends on the young Israeli considering Lakic’s goals return last term. Christian Tiffert was excellent last season and will play a key role in providing the supply. FCK won’t be as strong, but should expect a midtable finish.
Key player: Itay Shechter
Last season: 10th (13 wins, 5 draws, 16 Losses, 47-62)
Topscorer: Lukas Podolski (13 goals)
Most assists: Slawomir Peszko (5 assists)
Trainer: Stale Solbakken
Major Signings: Odise Roshi (Flamurtari Vlore)
Major Departures: Thomas Kessler (Eintracht Frankfurt – Loan), Taner Yalcin (Istanbul BB – Loan), Mata Jajalo (Siena – Loan Return), Fabrice Ehret (Evian), Simon Terodde (Union Berlin – Loan), Stephan Salger (VfL Osnabruck), Reinhold Yobo (Alemmania Aachen - Loan)
Former FC Kobenhavn boss Stade Solbakken has taken over at Koln and he’s already ruffled some feathers with his decision to strip Lukas Podolski of the club captaincy in favour of defender Pedro Geromel. If Podolski stays, alongside Milivoje Novakovic, Koln have the firepower to well and truly survive yet again.
Key player: Lukas Podolski
Last season: 5th (18 wins, 4 draws, 12 losses, 52-39)
Topscorer: Andre Schurrle (15 goals)
Most assists: Christian Fuchs & Lewis Holtby (8 assists)
Trainer: Thomas Tuchel
Major Signings: Anthony Ujah (Lillestrom - €2.3m), Julian Baumgartlinger (Austria Vienna - €1.1m), Fabian Schonheim (Wehen Wiesbaden - €400k), Andreas Ivanschitz (Panathinaikos - €200k Permanent), Deniz Yilmaz (Bayern Munich II – Free), Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Hamburg SV – Free), Marcel Risse (Bayer Leverkusen - €800k), Nicolai Muller (Greuther Furth - €1.8m), Zdenek Pospech (FC Kobenhavn – Free), Zoltan Stieber (Alemmania Aachen - €1.5m), Eugen Polanski (Getafe – Permanent), Malik Fathi (Spartak Moscw - Permanent)
Major Departures: Andre Schurrle (Bayer Leverkusen - €8m), Stefan Bell (Eintracht Frankfurt – Loan), Christian Fuchs (Schalke 04 - €3.8m), Lewis Holtby (Schalke 04 – Loan Return), Martin Pieckenhagen (retired), Jan Simak (Carl Zeiss Jena), Miroslav Karhan (Spartak Trnava)
Thomas Tuchel worked wonders at Mainz last season but he’s lost three key players this off-season in Andre Schurrle, Lewis Holtby and Christian Fuchs. Replacing them is a huge challenge and he’s put a lot of faith in some players who have plenty to prove including Deniz Yilmaz and Eugen Polanski. Mainz will be hard to predict this term, but Tuchel’s guidance suggests they’ll be safe.
Key player: Deniz Yilmaz
Last season: 6th (13 wins, 8 draws, 13 losses, 47-45)
Topscorer: Christian Eigler (8 goals)
Most assists: Mehmet Ekici (9 assists)
Trainer: Dieter Hecking
Major Signings: Daniel Didavi (VfB Stuttgart – Loan), Philipp Klement (Kaiserslautern – Free), Markus Feulner (Borussia Dortmund - €200k), Alexander Esswein (Dynamo Dresden - €200k), Manuel Seitz (Saarbrucken – Free), Timm Klose (FC Thun - €400k), Tomas Pekhart (Jablonec - €2m)
Major Departures: Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund - €4m), Daniel Batz (SC Freiburg – Free), Andreas Wolf (released), Marek Mintal (Hansa Rostock), Julian Schieber (VfB Stuttgart – Loan Return), Timo Ochs (1860 Munich), Dario Vidosic (Adelaide United)
The Bavarians had a fine 2010-11 campaign finishing sixth, under Dieter Hecking who has since offloaded veterans Andreas Wolf and Marek Mintal. Ilkay Gundogan has been sold to Dortmund too, so a lot of faith will be put in the likes of new signings Markus Feulner and Tomas Pekhart. They may be set for a slide down the table.
Key player: Tomas Pekhart
Last season: 12th (12 wins, 6 draws, 16 losses, 60-59)
Most assists: Ciprian Marica (6 assists)
Trainer: Bruno Labbadia
Major Signings: William Kvist (FC Kobenhavn - €3.5m), Ibrahima Traore (FC Augsburg – Free), Tamas Hajnal (Borussia Dortmund - €1m Permanent), Julian Schieber (FC Nurnberg – Loan Return), Maza (PSV Eindhoven)
Major Departures: Daniel Didavi (FC Nurnberg – Loan), Philipp Degen (Liverpool – Loan Return), Patrick Funk (St Pauli – Loan), Elson (released), Ciprian Marica (Schalke 04), Christian Trasch (VfL Wolfsburg)
Stuttgart were underwhelming last term and conceded far too many goals, so the departure of defender Philipp Degen doesn’t help. Nor does star midfielder Christian Trasch joining Wolfsburg, however they have added Mexican defender Maza and possess some talent in Zdravko Kuzmanovic and Cacau. Bruno Labbadia will need to improve them defensively if they’re to improve much.
Key player: Zdravko Kuzmanovic
Last season: 15th (9 wins, 11 draws, 14 losses, 43-48)
Topscorer: Edin Dzeko (10 goals)
Most assists: Diego (9 assists)
Trainer: Felix Magath
Major Signings: Mateusz Klich (Cracovia - €1.5m), Patrick Ochs (Eintracht Frankfurt - €3m), Srdjan Lakic (Kaiserslautern – Free), Christian Trasch (VfB Stuttgart), Hasan Salihamidzic (Juventus), Marco Russ (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Major Departures: Fabian Johnson (TSG Hoffenheim - €700k), Cicero (Trobense – Loan Return), Karim Ziani (Kayserispor – Permanent), Kevin Wolze (MSV Duisburg), Grafite (Al-Ahli Dubai), Dieumerci Mbokani (Monaco – Loan Return), Sergei Karimov (MSV Duisburg)
There’s been some major changes at the Volkswagen Arena in recent times, but with the return of Felix Magath there is renewed hope. The club has lost Edin Dzeko and Grafite in recent times, while Diego has fallen out with Magath, but they’ve recruited smartly with Patrick Ochs, Srdjan Lakic, Christian Trasch and Hasan Salihamidzic all proven at this level. Wolves should improve and could push for Europe.
Key player: Christian Trasch