The 2023/24 Bundesliga season gets underway this weekend with one question dominating the airwaves – can anyone stop Bayern Munich from winning another title?
Bayern head into the new campaign chasing their 12th successive title and it would be a major surprise if any of their rivals knock them off their perch.
We look at Bayern’s chances of claiming top spot again this season, before assessing whether any other teams can mount a serious challenge.
Bayern first, the rest nowhere?
Having seen their team rack up 11 consecutive league titles, Bayern fans will expect nothing less than another success this time around.
They have lost centre-back Lucas Hernandez to Paris Saint-Germain, while Sadio Mane, Marcel Sabitzer and Yann Sommer have also exited the club.
Kim Min-jae has been brought in from Napoli to replace Hernandez and should slot in seamlessly at the back after impressing in Serie A.
Konrad Laimer and Raphael Guerreiro have also arrived at the Allianz Arena, but their signings have been overshadowed by the big-money acquisition of Harry Kane.
The striker has been a standout performer for Tottenham Hotspur, becoming the club’s all-time highest scorer and the second top-scorer in Premier League history.
Kane has landed in the Bundesliga with one primary objective – to add some silverware to his CV. It will likely happen at some point, but will it be this season?
The England captain’s failure to win trophies at club and international level undoubtedly detracts from what he has achieved on a personal level.
It would be foolish to assume Kane will score goals for fun in the Bundesliga, although he does have a decent record against German teams in European competitions.
Despite this, defenders will be eager to make life difficult for Kane, and he may find it challenging to adapt to new surroundings this late in his career.
His bid to settle in the Bundesliga should be helped by being surrounded by Bayern’s array of attacking talents, who will all benefit from linking up with Kane.
Jamal Musiala, Kingsley Coman, Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry are among the options available to manager Thomas Tuchel, so goalscoring is unlikely to be an issue.
However, Bayern still look a little short in central midfield while the ongoing uncertainty over their goalkeeping situation is an issue Tuchel must resolve quickly.
Given the vast resources at their disposal, Bayern will likely plug the holes in their squad before the summer transfer window closes.
Assuming they make the necessary additions to their squad, it is impossible to predict anything other than another Bayern title success this season.
RB Leipzig fancied to be best of the rest
Borussia Dortmund have finished second behind Bayern in four of the last five years but may not achieve the feat this season.
The loss of star midfielder Jude Bellingham to Real Madrid is a significant blow to their hopes, leaving them short of creativity in a key area.
Felix Nmecha has been signed from Wolfsburg to replace Bellingham, while Marcel Sabitzer has also joined the club from Bayern.
However, it would be a brave move to predict they can fill the void left by Bellingham, which leaves us looking elsewhere for other potential challengers to Bayern.
RB Leipzig leap off the page as the most likely candidates, and not just because they walloped Bayern in the German Supercup last weekend.
Leipzig have lost several influential players this summer including Josko Gvardiol, Dominik Szoboszlai, Christopher Nkunku and Konrad Laimer.
They have used the funds wisely, securing the services of Lois Openda, Castello Lukeba, Christoph Baumgartner, Benjamin Sesko and Nicolas Seiwald.
El Chadaille Bitshiabu has also been snapped up from Paris Saint-Germain, while Xavi Simons and Fabio Carvalho have joined the club on loan.
Despite selling some top players, Leipzig’s famed model of transfer trading has potentially left them with a stronger squad than last season.
After finishing third last season and winning the DFB-Pokal, Leipzig look well-placed to emerge as Bayern’s nearest rivals this season.
Whether they have enough to topple the perennial champions is debatable, but they look set to enjoy an extremely productive campaign.
Union Berlin and Freiburg completed the top five last term, but we fancy Bayer Leverkusen to overhaul them this time around.
They made a dismal start to the previous campaign before enjoying a massive upturn in fortunes when Xabi Alonso was appointed manager.
Leverkusen have made some excellent signings this summer including Victor Boniface, Granit Xhaka, Jonas Hofmann and Alejandro Grimaldo.
While the loss of Moussa Diaby to Aston Villa is a setback, they still look to have enough talent in their squad to force their way into the top four.
Eintracht Frankfurt will expect to be in contention for European qualification, but finishing in the top six will be as good as it gets for them.
At the other end of the standings, newly promoted Heidenheim and Darmstadt are the favourites to be relegated and look set for a difficult season in the top flight.
Bochum and Augsburg are among the other teams expected to struggle, but Stuttgart should improve after narrowly avoiding the drop last term.
They have made some useful acquisitions this summer and could push towards the calmer waters of mid-table by the end of the campaign.