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After the embarrassment of Germany’s first round exit at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, German eyes have now turned to the 2018-19 Bundesliga campaign which gets underway this weekend.

Once again Bayern Munich will be the team to beat as they strive for an unprecedented seventh title in a row. Despite that, they didn’t rest on their laurels bringing in a host of new additions as well as a new coach, former Bayern Munich player Niko Kovač.

Schalke are eager to prove last season’s second place finish was no fluke, whilst Hoffenheim and Borussia Dortmund are keen to reunite acquaintances with the German champions. 

Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig will also apply pressure to Bayern Munich. Though well behind the Bavarians in the title race last season, both teams were unfortunate to miss out on Champions League places. All indicators point to more success for Bayern Munich, however, neutral observers will be hoping for a much closer title race. 

Here is a rundown on the title contenders (players pictured are bolded). 

Bayern Munich

When Bayern Munich lost the German Cup final to Eintracht Frankfurt in May, so impressed by the coaching performance of Niko Kovač, they hired their former player to lead them for the next three years. Kovač’s coaching philosophy is based on three principles, ‘team spirit, tactics and conditioning’, and with a squad already blessed with Bundesliga, World Cup and Champions League winners, how could Kovač possible fail? 

  • Major Ins: Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry, Renato Sanches, Alphonso Davies
  • Major Out: Arturo Vidal

Schalke

Second year coach Domenico Tedesco might have lost three of his best players but he’s out to prove he and his team are no one-season wonders. How Tedesco balances the rigours of a title tilt and Champions League football is yet to be seen. Salif Sané adds strength to an already mean defence and forward Mark Uth has the potential to notch 15 – 20 goals this season. 

  • Major Ins: Salif Sané, Mark Uth 
  • Major Outs: Leon Goretzka, Thilo Kehrer, Max Meyer

Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim begin their campaign with a trip to the capital to face the sixth time reigning champions. What might seem like mission impossible for most clubs will not faze Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann, who has beaten Bayern Munich two out of the four times they have faced, including a draw. Like Schalke, Hoffenheim will be contesting three separate competitions (Bundesliga, Champions League and German Cup) this season. Who is to say Hoffenheim won’t be challenging for trophies come May 2019. 

  • Major Ins: Ishak Belfodil, Leonardo Bittencourt, Joelinton
  • Major Outs: Serge Gnabry, Mark Uth

Borussia Dortmund

With a home crowd advantage the envy of many sporting clubs around the world, the former European champions are second favourites for the championship.  New manager Lucien Favre comes to the team with a healthy reputation after stints with Hertha Berlin and Borussia Mönchengladbach. With a squad already boasting the talent of German internationals Marco Reus and Mario Götze, American boy wonder Christian Pulisic, plus the new additions of Belgium midfield general Alex Witsel and hard as nails defender Abdou Diallo, Borussia Dortmund could well end up spoiling Bayern Munich’s seventh heaven victory parade. 

  • Major Ins: Alex Witsel, Abdou Diallo, Thomas Delaney
  • Major Out: Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Andre Schurrie, Andriy Yarmolenko

Bayer Leverkusen

Having missed out on Champions league football on goal difference, Bayer Leverkusen enters the 2018/2019 season with a point to prove. The club invested heavily in Brazilian winger Paulinho from Vasco da Gama and have held onto stars Leon Bailey and Julian Brandt. Renowned for playing some of the best football in the league, their attacking flair will only enhance under the guidance of offensive minded coach Heiko Herrlich. 

  • Major Ins: Paulinho, Mitchell Weiser, Isaac Thelin, Julian Brandt
  • Major Outs: Atakan Akkaynak, Bernd Leno

RB Leipzig

Having lost their best player, Naby Keïta to Liverpool in the off season and waiting for Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann to take over the reins in season 2019/2020, RB Leipzig could be the enigma of the upcoming season. After finishing second only two years ago, and beating both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund last year, consistency was the main problem for the team from Leipzig. Much sought after German international striker Timo Werner remains with the club despite interest from Real Madrid and could be the difference between RB Leipzig playing in the Champions League or Europa League next season. 

  • Major Ins: Marcelo Saracchi, Nordi Mukiele
  • Major Out: Naby Keïta


Categories: Opinion | Europe

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