Welcome back Bundesliga!
It’s been little more than a month since the league season concluded. It’s been just a matter of weeks since brilliant Bayern Munich completed a memorable treble.
While the main question surrounds whether anyone can mount a challenge to stop the Bavarians winning a ninth successive league title, there are plenty of other intriguing developments and we can expectantly expect Bundesliga highlights with three matches standing out to me during the opening weekend.
VfB Stuttgart vs SC Freiburg
VfB Stuttgart were one of the established top flight German sides when I was growing up.
Three-time champions, it’s good to see them back in the Bundesliga, bouncing straight back for the second time in four years.
They went down in 2019 after losing to Union Berlin in the relegation play-off, but they didn’t need to go through that process again, having secured automatic promotion alongside champions Arminia Bielefeld.
This will be a good test of whether they have the wherewithal to stay up as the experienced duo who played a key part in securing promotion, former Bayern pair and Germany internationals Holger Badstuber and Mario Gomez, are now out of the picture.
However, they still have the likes of Gonzalo Castro (former Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen), captain Marc-Oliver Kempf (Freiburg, Eintracht Frankfurt) and, in Nicolas Gonzalez, a player who found his feet last season, scoring a team-best 14 goals and laying on three assists.
The acquisition of Konstantinos Mavropanos on loan from Arsenal could be an astute move and this opener against a Freiburg side who equipped themselves well to finish eighth – and only just missed out on a European place last term – should be a good indicator of how they will fare.
Borussia Dortmund vs Borussia Monchengladbach
The perennial bridesmaids in recent seasons, Dortmund have continued to be a breath of fresh air and punch well above their weight, despite constantly selling their best performers – many to Bayern.
One young talent they won’t be letting leave this summer, however, is Erling Haaland.
After scoring 29 goals in 27 appearances for Red Bull Salzburg, Haaland had no shortage of big-name suitors during the January 2020 transfer window, but Dortmund – thanks in no small part to their reputation for giving top-level youngsters the platform to shine – won the race.
The Norwegian went on to score 16 goals in 18 games during the second half of 2019/20, helping himself to a 20-minute hat-trick on his Bundesliga debut in a 5-3 win over Augsburg.
The 20 year-old will be arguably the biggest threat to Bayern Munich counterpart Robert Lewandowski’s chances of claiming a fourth successive top scorer award.
Should they also keep hold of his team-mate Jadon Sancho – someone strongly linked with Manchester United – then they will have a front pairing which will be the envy of many.
This is a battle between the sides who finished second and fourth last season, sealing Champions League spots in the process and, although Monchengladbach may be hard pushed to repeat that achievement with the added distraction of a seat at Europe’s top table, they have a fine manager in Marco Rose who is well used to overcoming the odds.
Gladbach have been able to hang onto the majority of their first-team squad and have added Hannes Wolf from RB Leipzig and Valentino Lazaro from Inter Milan, both on loan with options to buy.
Their main man, though, will surely be Alassane Pléa who has netted 25 times with 15 assists thrown in for good measure across 68 matches with Die Fohlen.
VfL Wolfsburg vs Bayer Leverkusen
This clash between two sides who qualified for the Europa League is an opening weekend highlight.
Wolfsburg will again aim to mount a top four challenge.
That is no mean feat considering the 2009 Bundesliga champions had to negotiate two successive relegation play-offs in 2017 and 2018 before clinching a top-six finish and a place in the UEFA Europa League last year and seventh place in the season recently concluded.
Leverkusen have lost their main star this summer with Chelsea splashing out more than £70 million on the attacking midfielder, in addition to selling Kevin Volland to Monaco.
The latter departure has been offset by the signing of Roma and Czech Republic striker Patrik Schick. He will need no time to adapt to the Bundesliga after spending last season on loan at rivals Leipzig during which he scored 10 goals in 28 appearances.
He has signed a five-year deal and is likely to ease the goalscoring burden on Lucas Alario. The fact he was a ‘wanted’ man was evidenced by the fact Leipzig made an attempt to sign Schick on a permanent deal but were unable to match Roma’s valuation.
The SBOTOP Bundesliga betting odds are available to peruse so what are you waiting for!
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