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2019-20 German Bundesliga season Preview – Dortmund out to stop Bayern

It has been a long summer without the weekly excitement of the Bundesliga, but the wait is nearly over as the German top flight returns on Friday, 16 August for what promises to be one of the most exhilarating seasons in recent memory. Bayern Munich pipped Borussia Dortmund by two points on the final day for a seventh consecutive Meisterschale, but that doesn’t even tell half the story over 34 Matchdays. The only two teams to win the Bundesliga in the last decade are the heavy favorites; they have already renewed their rivalry in 2019-20 with the season-opening DFL Supercup. However, these traditional giants of German football are not alone in the ring.

As we count down to the new season opener, here is our preview of the new season.

BAYERN MUNICH

Nico Kovac maintained Bayern Munich grip on the Bundesliga as they made it a magnificent seventh successive German top-flight crown. The former Eintracht Frankfurt manager first season in charge at Bayern had its tough moments but delivering a domestic double went a long way in winning over doubters within and outside the club. The Bavaria giants won the league title thanks to Borussia Dortmund’s failing – Die Borussen at one stage last season had a nine-point advantage over Bayern, kept Kovac’s men waiting to keeping the champagne on ice until a nail-biting final day of the season. Bayern are no ordinary club and with the demands sky high which will only increase the pressure on Kovac will in the coming season. The Croat is dealing with the loss of two club legends – Robbery (Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery) in the same season. These wingers’ occupied alternative flanks in Bayern’s attack and their exit leave big holes for Serge Gnarby and Kingsley Coman to fill. In revamping the defense, Die Roten added two French World Cup winners Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard for a combined fee of €115m as statement of intent to continue their local dominance and seek continental success again. Both players are versatile, playing as full backs or central defenders but where would Kovac fit his new men? With the new arrivals, Hummels was sold to his former club and direct rival Dortmund but the jury is still out as to which party has got the better end of the deal for the 30-year-old. After winning the German league title seven years running, the question needs to be asked whether the Bundesliga or even the double is enough for Bayern. Shouldn’t the Champions League be a serious target for the German giants if they are to keep pace with the European elite? Last season’s round of 16 exit was the earliest since 2011 and the expectation in Bavaria is for the team to compete better in Europe and emerge as Champions League winners since the last in 2013. Bayern are the favorites for the title once again.  

BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Could this be the year Lucien Favre’s men end the Bavarians’ Bundesliga stranglehold? Dortmund rewarded their 61-year-old coach with an extension to his contract until 2021 with Hans-Joachim Watzke saying that he had ‘100% met his season targets’. This season however the target has to be the Bundesliga title. After the near miss of last season, Favre is now under increased pressure to deliver. The Swiss tactician has built a great reputation over the years at clubs like Hertha Berlin, Mönchengladbach and Nice, but his only success in league titles came two years running in Switzerland with FC Zürich. Die Schwarzgelben conducted clever business in the summer transfer market. Mats Hummels returned while Julian Brandt, Nico Schulz and Thorgan Hazard arrived to give Favre upgraded options and add serious strength in depth to his squad. These quality acquisitions will allow Dortmund to pursue their three-pronged ambitions; Bundesliga title and the DFB Cup are trophies that — for a squad of their ability — are very much in their sights while a run beyond last season’s achievement of the UEFA Champions League last 16 will also be in a target. Favre has embarrassing riches in attacking talent starting with club captain Marco Reus, Germany World Cup here Mario Gotze, Jandon Sancho, Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt not to forget Jacob Brunn Larsen. Sancho had a very good last season; his total of 14 assists was a Bundesliga best, and if you add those to his 12 goals, he was involved in 26 of Dortmund’s league strikes. The English starlet will be fundamental for Dortmund as they aim to wrestle the Bundesliga crown off perennial winners. Dortmund have what it takes but they need to cut out the ifs of last season.

RB LEIPZIG

It is the start of a new era at RB Leipzig; the Bundesliga club head into their fourth campaign in the top flight with a new sense of optimism as a new era begins under talented young coach Julian Nagelsmann. The Red Bulls have finished second, sixth and third in their first three seasons of Bundesliga football and constructed a young and talented squad ready to challenge the status quo. The Easterners finished 12 points behind the champions but the new coach believes his team can challenge for the title. Die Roten Bullen are also competing in the Champions League for the second time this season and will hope to go one better than their group-stage exit from 2017-18. The club also enjoyed a run to a first-ever DFB Cup final last season, losing 3-0 to Bayern, and could target that as another source of silverware. Last season success was built on a solid defense, the meanest in the Bundesliga conceding 29 goals. It will be interesting to see how RB fare as they change to Julian Nagelsmann’s preferred back three. A trio of Orban, Konaté and Dayot Upamecano would be the envy of any side. Timo Werner is the team’s leader from the front scoring an average of 20 goals in all competitions in three seasons with Leipzig. However, his contractual situation is a cause of concern for Nagelsmann with Werner current deal running out at the end of this campaign. It would be interesting to see how the situation is resolved with Bayern expressing their interest. Nagelsmann has earned a name for himself but he has a challenge to remodel Leipzig into his team following Rangnick’s reign. The new director at the club has been in and around the first team in the past seven years to a bit of unlearning and relearning will need to happen. RBL will compete in the Bundesliga, securing a Champions League is within reach and anything more would surely be welcomed by the Easterners.

BAYER LEVERKUSEN

Can Bayer 04 consolidate their position in the Bundesliga’s top four this season? The magic wand used by Peter Bosz during the second half of the season to turn ninth place in fourth finish would be required in the new season. The former Ajax and Borussia Dortmund coach had a point to prove with his reputation taking a hit after his failed spell at Dortmund and the Dutch coach showed no signs of rustiness. The turnaround in Bayer’s fortune was remarkable; Kai Havertz was central to everything Bosz did and the German international finished the season with 17 goals and four assists. Jamaica born winger Leon Bailey rediscovered himself and Lucas Alario became more effective in attack. Die Werkself fans have seen this one too many times and will be weary of the second season syndrome. With Julian Brandt gone, Havertz has a bigger role to play but can he reproduce last season form or even better? His current growth path shows that he isn’t so far off a move to the bigger side like Bayern Munich or even Real Madrid. Another player with a big season ahead of him is Leon Bailey. The Jamaican admitted that last season didn’t exactly go to plan after the fantastic year he enjoyed in his first full season at Leverkusen in 2017-18. In the season before last, the Jamaicans winger dazzled the Bundesliga with his nine goals and six assists and looked a prime candidate to be snapped up by Bayern as the heir to Robben and Ribéry. Defensively, Bosz team haven’t looked rock solid in preseason but his strong belief in his system – playing compact going forward and in defense. It yielded positive returns in the second half of last season where they scored 17 more goals and conceded six less compared to the first half. It is an area for concern for Bosz if he aims to be successful this season. Bayer Leverkusen were exciting to watch under Bosz in the second half of last season, it would be fascinating to see if the Dutch coach can keep the enthusiasm up in the new season.

OTHERS

Champions League football is the goal for Borussia Moenchengladbach this season under new coach Marco Rose having come very close last season. It brought the end of Dieter Hecking’s three-year tenure as the Foals coach. Wolfsburg were one of the surprise packages of last season; Bruno Labbadia worked wonders at the Volkswwagen Arena seeing Die Wölfe finishing just three points shy of fourth, but clinched a top-six finish and place in the Europa League. All of this happened just 12 months after negotiating the relegation play-offs for the second successive year. Oliver Glasner would be expected to take them even further by mounting a top four challenge. Eintracht Frankfurt begins the new campaign without Luka Jovic and Sebastein Haller but they have Ante Rebic as the new leader in attack. The 2018-19 season turned out to be one of the best in Die Adler fans memory, pushing for UEFA Champions League qualification until the very end and reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League. Can they do it again this season? Werder Bremen will be looking to bring European football back to Weserstadion for the first time in a decade next season. Just a point separated Florian Kohfeldt’s men from Europa League qualification last term; Kohfeldt excellent job has earned him a new contract to 2023. It is the final season for club legend Claudio Pizarro; can he sign off on a high with Werder Bremen? A new era begins in Hoffenheim after three-and-a-half enormously successful years with Nagelsmann at the helms. The youngest coach in the Bundesliga brought about the greatest period in the club’s history; taking Hoffenheim from relegation candidates to back-to-back top four finishes and successive European campaigns in the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions League.

FC Cologne are back in the big league. No other club side in European football has been promoted to the top flight in the 21st century as many times as The Billy Goats have in Germany. Six times in the last 19 years, the Geißböcke have moved up from the Bundesliga.2 to the top division. The flip side to that however, is that the Rhineland club have suffered relegation five times in that period. Can they stop this yo-yo effect? Paderborn are back in the Bundesliga for the second time after beating Union Berlin to an automatic promotion berth by virtue of their superior number of goals scored. They finished bottom in their only previous campaign of Bundesliga football in 2014-15. Can they go one better in 2019/20 season and beat the drop? Union Berlin are in uncharted territory this season, with their dramatic promotion/relegation play-off win over VfB Stuttgart in May allowing them to come up to the Bundesliga for the first time in their history. The first job for Urs Fischer’s side, then, is to enjoy the ride. Can the arrival of two-time Bundesliga winner Neven Subotic help Union Berlin to flourish in their debut season in the German top flight?

The 2019-20 Bundesliga season should provide exciting football and packed grounds. The German Klassier, Ruhr derby, Berlin derby and several other derbies are some of the big games to look forward to. We shall be previewing matches from this league as part of our FESIG focus weekly. The entire season odds are available on our sports shop. Simply visit Babaijebu.ng and place your bet on all Bundesliga matches

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