The 57th season of the Bundesliga beckons with Matchday 1 just around the corner, so let’s take a look at each of the teams and what we can expect from them…
Arminia have made a return to the German top-flight after a long spell away following their convincing title victory in the 2. Bundesliga. This season, their primary objective will surely be to simply ensure survival and not go down like their yo-yo teams of the past.
Transfers: Christian Gebauer, Jacob Barrett Laursen, Ritsu Doan, Mike van der Hoorn and Sergio Córdova were all brought in, clearly showing Arminia’s intent and desire to stay in the top-flight. Their only major departure was that of Jonathan Clauss.
Key Player: Fabian Klos – A lot will be expected of Arminia’s star striker and captain, Fabian Klos. The 32 year-old scored 21 goals and assisted seven others in last season’s 2. Bundesliga, and his side will hope that he can translate that form to the top-flight.
Augsburg did well to finish on the right side of the relegation battle last season, and they’ll be looking to keep it that way this year. However, they will have to overcome a lot of problems, including a completely revamped defence.
Transfers: While Augsburg have done well to bring Rafał Gikiewicz and Daniel Caligiuri to the club, they have lost quite a few familiar faces, especially in defence. Philipp Max has been sold to PSV Eindhoven, Tin Jedvaj’s loan has ended and Stephan Lichtsteiner retired at the end of the season. Some serious patchwork will be needed to replace those players.
Key Player: Florian Niederlechner – Although the striker suffered some spells of goal-droughts last season, his 13 goals and six assists were crucial in keeping his side up. Augsburg will hope that he can slightly improve his consistency in the next campaign to better his side’s results.
Leverkusen narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification last time around by a mere two points. There were many encouraging signs however, and they’ll look to build on them to improve even more this time around.
Transfers: While Leverkusen have added Patrik Schick to their attack, their notable losses include Kevin Volland and more famously, Kai Havertz. They’ll have a hard time replacing the latter, but perhaps young Florian Wirtz can step up into his shoes.
Key Player: Moussa Diaby – With the severe losses in attack, Leverkusen will need to look elsewhere for their goals. One man who they would want to see on the scoresheet is Moussa Diaby, who only got five goals and as many assists in the Bundesliga last time around. The Frenchman has immense potential, though, and hopefully he will start reaching it soon.
FC Bayern München
Bayern Munich stuttered in the opening stages of last season and made the title race very exciting, even though they did go on to win it again. This time around, however, it’s hard to see Hansi Flick’s treble-holders invite any threat to a ninth-consecutive Bundesliga title.
Transfers: In the summer, they went and added Leroy Sané to their free-flowing attack, so it’s even harder to see anybody stopping them now. Although they did lose Philippe Coutinho and Álvaro Odriozola when their loans ended, this shouldn’t prove to be any real issue. Ivan Perišić’s future remains in doubt, but with Sané coming in, he may not be so necessary.
Key Player: Robert Lewandowski – Bayern boast of a squad that is bursting with quality, but if one man stands out, it’s Robert Lewandowski. The Polish hitman was top-scorer in every competition he kicked a ball in last season, racking up a tally of 56 goals. That looks pretty unbeatable, but if there’s one man who can better it, it’s Robert Lewandowski. They won’t have an excuse to cancel the Ballon d’Or this time.
Dortmund have been playing second-fiddle to Bayern for quite a long time now, and they’ve probably grown tired of it. Last year represented their best chance, but then Hansi Flick came along and ruined everything. Now, they have a youthful and talent-packed squad, so they’ll hope to push the Bavarians to the limit.
Transfers: Dortmund’s acquisitions include Thomas Meunier, young Jude Bellingham and a loan for Real Madrid’s attacking midfielder Reinier Jesus Carvalho. Their major loss was Achraf Hakimi at the end of his loan spell and Mario Götze.
Key Player: Jadon Sancho – The Englishman was the subject of some heavy interest from Manchester United, but the Red Devils failed to pay the stipulated €120m by the 10th of August, so he should spend another season in Gelsenkirchen. BVB will hope he can improve on his impressive tally of 17 goals and 16 assists in last season’s Bundesliga.
Among the top-four contenders are Borussia Mönchengladbach, who just managed to edge a Champions League spot in the dying stages of the previous campaign. They’ll look to cement that spot and build further this time around.
Transfers: Gladbach’s notable additions comprise of loans for the Austrian pair of Hannes Wolf and Valentino Lazaro, while Raffael’s contract has expired and was not renewed. Apart from that, it’s the same squad as last season.
Key Player: Marcus Thuram – The son of World Cup winner Lilian Thuram, Marcus made a real name for himself with his impressive performances at Gladbach. With 10 goals and eight Bundesliga assists, he became a key fixture in the Foals’ attack alongside fellow countryman Alassane Pléa. Gladbach will hope that the French connection stays strong this year too.
Frankfurt had a mixed campaign last time around, as they finished in the top-half but languished dangerously close to the relegation zone for a period of time. They are still seemingly recovering from the clear-out of after the Niko Kovač-era where they lost their star attackers and head coach, and they’ll hope to slowly work towards that level once again.
Transfers: Frankfurt’s only notable signing is that of Steven Zuber from Hoffenheim, while Mijat Gaćinović has left and Gelson Fernandes has hung up his boots.
Key Player: Filip Kostić – Frankfurt will be quite glad about the fact that they still have Filip Kostić in their ranks, because his presence on the left flank is vital to them. Last season, he scored four goals and got 11 Bundesliga assists while averaging a league-high 3 crosses per match. The Eagles will hope that he can continue to operate at that level.
Christian Streich’s Freiburg were the surprise package of last season, as the hard-to-beat side finished just outside the European spots. They were tipped for a relegation battle, but they massively outperformed everyone’s expectations. It would an even greater achievement if they can repeat the trick.
Transfers: Freiburg made two notable additions to their squad – striker Ermedin Demirović and attacking midfielder Guus Til. They did suffer a few losses too, most prominently Luca Waldschmidt, Robin Koch and Alexander Schwolow.
Key Player: Vincenzo Grifo – While super-sub Nils Petersen should take care of the goal-scoring, Freiburg will need Vincenzo Grifo to continue his consistent displays in attacking midfield. Last season, he got four goals and twice as many assists, but Freiburg will expect even more from him now.
The capital club were just outside the top-half of the table at the end of the previous campaign, and would have been left quite disappointed by that. However, they have seemingly moved on from their managerial turmoil, and Bruno Labbadia looks to have steadied the ship. Perhaps they can challenge for a European spot now.
Transfers: Hertha’s major acquisitions have been Alexander Schwolow and Deyovaisio Zeefuik. Meanwhile, Ondrej Duda and Lucas Tousart have also returned since their loan spells ended in July. The outgoing players include club captain Vedad Ibišević, Salomon Kalou, Per Skjelbred, Marius Wolf and Marko Grujić, with the last two going back after a loan spell.
Key Player: Matheus Cunha – Hertha quite simply need a consistent goal-scorer. and Matheus Cunha could well prove to be the just that. The Brazilian has all the flair and tricks in the world, but now he needs to prove himself in front of goal more often. Now is the best time for that.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Hoffenheim just edged into the Europa League spot as a late managerial change proved to be a masterstroke. Now, Sebastian Hoeneß is set to step up and into his first-ever senior managerial role, so a lot is expected of him. Another top-six finish will be a good delivery.
Transfers: Hoffenheim’s only major signing is that of Mijat Gaćinović from Frankfurt, while Sebastian Rudy has gone back to Schalke as his loan ended. Apart from that, it’s been a relatively quiet window for them.
Key Player: Andrej Kramarić – Although the Croatian international scored four against Dortmund on the last matchday of the previous campaign, he had a rather torrid time as injuries prevented him from playing consistently. This time around, he’ll look to stay fit and continuously deliver throughout the season.
1. FC Köln
Köln also flirted with relegation at times last year, but they pulled away from the danger zone towards the end. This year, they’ll look to stay further away from the drop zone, and perhaps edge towards the top-half of the table.
Transfers: The Billy Goats’ marquee signing was undoubtedly that of veteran goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler, but they lost quite a few key players. Those include Simon Terodde, Kingsley Schindler, Mark Uth and Toni Leistner, with the last three concluding their loan spells.
Key Player: Jhon Córdoba – Köln still have their main striker however, the ever hard-working Jhon Córdoba. He got 13 crucial goals and two assists last season, while his hold-up play and pressing was invaluable to his team. More of the same will certainly be appreciated.
1. FSV Mainz 05
Mainz were another one of the many teams involved in the battle at the bottom, and they too escaped unscathed. A 13th-placed finish may not be considered too lucky by many, but it’s much better than what lies only a few places below. This year, they’ll look to stay away from the drop and crawl towards the single-digit spots.
Transfers: Mainz too have been rather subdued in the transfer window, and their notable signings only include a couple of centre-backs – Luca Kilian and Dimitri Lavalée. The good thing, however, is the fact that most of their squad has stayed with them, with only Taiwo Awoniyi and Jeffrey Bruma being the notable departures as their loan spells ended.
Key Player: Robin Quaison – The Swedish forward had a hand in almost 35% of his side’s Bundesliga goals last time around – scoring 13 and setting two others up. He also appeared in all but two of the matches, starting 31 times. He’s clearly a key figure in the squad, and they will want him to step it up once again.
The Champions League semi-finalists did well to cement a podium spot last season, but they might be slightly disappointed after they won the Herbstmeisterschaft. Even then, they can still take many positives out of the season, and look to build and mount a slightly more potent title charge.
Transfers: Leipzig’s major arrivals include Hee-chan Hwang and Benjamin Henrichs, who have presumably been brought in to replace the departing loanee duo of Patrik Schick and Angeliño. The glaring loss, however, is of all-time top goal-scorer Timo Werner, who will undoubtedly be missed.
Key Player: Dayot Upamecano – The French centre-back signed a contract extension in the summer, amidst heavy interest from major European clubs. He’s looking set to stay with Julian Nagelsmann, however, and he should look to maintain his high average of 3.1 tackles per match from last season.
FC Schalke 04
If you ever need to know the definition of mixed, take a look at Schalke’s 2019/20 Bundesliga campaign. They started off so well and were in the European spots too, but then 2020 happened. Now, they are winless in 17 Bundesliga matches, a run they really need to arrest. They finished only eight points clear of the relegation zone, and they’ll surely hope to stray much further away then that in this campaign.
Transfers: Schalke’s major signing was that of the experienced Vedad Ibišević, while Sebastian Rudy and Mark Uth have returned from loan spells. They had to bid farewell to a few key players too, most notably Weston McKennie, Alexander Nübel, Daniel Caligiuri, Jonjoe Kenney, Michael Greogritsch and Jean-Clair Todibo.
Key Player: Amine Harit – The loss of Weston McKennie in midfield has created a major opening, and while Amine Harit may not be able to cover the defensive side of things, he’ll surely want to take care of the attacking. Last season, he got seven goals and four assists, but injuries cut his campaign short, and that’s around the time Schalke’s slump started. This time around, he’ll look to stay fit and help his side recover.
The other side to be promoted are Stuttgart, who have slowly started to become a bit of a yo-yo team of late. In the last season, they finished as runners-up in the 2. Bundesliga – earning direct promotion. Although it’s hard to see them anywhere near the seventh-place they achieved in 2018, they’ll hope to stay clear of the drop zone at the very least.
Transfers: Stuttgart haven’t been overly active in the transfer window, but they have looked to strengthen their defence. Their marquee signing was irrefutably the loan deal for Konstantinos Mavropanos, while they held on to their first-team players.
Key Player: Nicolás González – Last season, Stuttgart’s Argentine forward finished as their top-scorer in the 2. Bundesliga with 14 goals and three assists in 27 appearances. The 22 year-old will look to carry that form to the top flight, hopefully helping his team stay up.
1. FC Union Berlin
The East Berliners were tipped by everyone to go straight back down to the second division last season after they beat Stuttgart in the 2019 relegation play-offs to book a Bundesliga debut. However, they shocked everyone by ending up in 11th place, comfortably away from the drop zone, and even ahead of Schalke! If they can even equal that, this season will be considered another great success.
Transfers: Union have conducted some very smart summer business, acquiring the likes of Max Kruse, Keita Endo, Robin Knoche, Niko Gießelmann and Andreas Luthe. Weighing those signings were the departures of Rafał Gikiewicz, Felix Kroos, Keven Schlotterbeck and Yunus Mallı.
Key Player: Christopher Trimmel – Union’s 34 year-old club captain was simply outstanding in the last campaign, as he racked up eight assists. His set-pieces were the most inviting as they accounted for each of his assists – meaning that he set up the most goals from dead ball situations in Europe’s top five leagues for the 2019/20 campaign. Lionel who? If he can beat the Argentine great in any other goal-related stat once again, Union should have a strong season.
SV Werder Bremen
Werder made one of the greatest of escapes last season, emerging out of the direct relegation zone with a 6-1 win on the last matchday, and following up with a narrow victory in the relegation play-offs thanks to the away goals rule. This time around, the most experienced team in the Bundesliga will be keen to avoid all of that, and look to ensure survival in a less heart-stopping way.
Transfers: Werder didn’t buy too many players in the transfer window, but they stole the headlines when they signed Manchester United’s Tahith Chong on loan. They did lose a few key players, though, as Fin Bartels, Philipp Bargfrede, Sebastian Langkamp and Nuri Şahin all left the club while Claudio Pizarro retired. Milot Rashica’s future still remains up in the air.
Key Player: Theodor Gebre Selassie – Bremen’s defence was leaky to say the very least in the last campaign, so they will surely look to tighten things up at the back. One man who will be key to that is Theodor Gebre Selassie, the Czech centre-back who made 28 appearances in the last campaign, and averaged 3.6 tackles plus interceptions and 2.6 clearances. A bump to those numbers coupled with some help from his partners will surely help Florian Kohfeldt’s team.
The last of the teams, Wolfsburg had a close-but-not-quite type of campaign. They missed the Europa League spot on the last matchday of the season, and were also eliminated in the last-16 of that Europa League campaign. Encouraging signs were aplenty, but they just need to find that extra push to get their desired result – a European spot at the very least.
Transfers: Wolfsburg have conducted the least amount of business compared to all the other Bundesliga clubs, with no first-team challenging acquisitions made, and the only noteworthy departure being that of Robin Knoche.
Key Player: Wout Weghorst – The Dutch striker was on fire last season as he netted 16 goals in the Bundesliga and provided three assists. His aerial presence was felt by many too – he won 4.1 aerial duels per match on average, earning third place in the Bundesliga charts. More of the same will surely be appreciated by Wolfsburg.
Top Six: Bayern, Dortmund, Leipzig, Gladbach, Leverkusen, Hoffenheim
Relegation Play-offs: Stuttgart
Relegated: Köln, Mainz
Stats courtesy transfermarkt.com and whoscored.com
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