This weekend, Germany welcomes a festival of friendly matches between some of the Bundesliga's top sides, as Borussia Moenchengladbach take on Borussia Dortmund before Hamburg SV and Bayern Munich lock horns in the Telekom Cup on Saturday, July 20.
The tournament itself will be the first semi-serious encounter for Dortmund and Bayern after a string of casual friendlies this summer, and as such could prove a fascinating stage to enjoy some of the new players that both clubs have brought to the German top flight.
With both Mario Goetze and Henrikh Mkhitaryan out with relatively light injuries, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang comes in to this tournament as the next best alternative in terms of any exciting new talent between the two sides.
The Gabonese forward has just had an excellent season in Ligue 1, scoring 19 goals and creating nine assists throughout the course of the campaign with an incredible degree of technical ability and explosive pace, and he is certain to improve on such a tally this year with Dortmund.
The forward is likely to start on either wing or even behind Robert Lewandowski this weekend, as coach Juergen Klopp continues to shuffle his forward line in an endless debate as to who exactly fits where.
Of course, the old guard of Jakub Blaszczykowski, Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski will all be on show and in no doubt excellent fashion, but the real excitement surrounding Dortmund this weekend should be firmly placed on their new forward. For he may well show something that we've yet to see from Dortmund yet.
The next star on show this weekend will of course be that of Thiago Alcantara—the Spanish international and sparkling new signing of Bayern Munich.
A young player who scored a hat-trick last time he played a competitive match, Thaigo has created a buzz around himself that will be hard to shake off in Germany for quite some time. With Goetze and Bastian Schweintseiger both likely to miss the weekend's tournament, don't be surprised if this young playmaker steals all the limelight.
Despite such a tender age, what really stands out when watching the young Spaniard is just how complete and bold he already appears to be. From the middle of the pitch, where he is likely to be played by Guardiola, Thiago can simply dance through two lines of defence before opting to either pass or shoot. A player Hamburg certainly won't be looking forward to coming up against.
Aside from the stars on show this weekend for Dortmund and Bayern, one player who should fascinate the purists is that of Sokratis Papastathopoulos—Dortmund's new central defender and potential solution to their crippling lack of depth over the past few seasons.
A growing problem for Dortmund that Klopp has been keen to fix for quite some time has been that of the deteriorating form of his once imperial defensive partnership of Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic. In Papastathopoulos, the eccentric coach now has a third option and won't be scared to split the old guard in favour of a defender who has shown just how passionate he is for success.
What Sokratis also offers, in terms of entertainment, is a much more direct style of defending than Hummels or Subotic. Often running out to meet attackers and never weak or shy in the tackle; the Greek defender could bring an entirely new concept of incentive to the team and truly reinvigorate the title contenders.
As well as the more senior players, there are a number of youngsters on either side who have slowly but surely made their way into the first team this season during the preseason tours.
For Bayern, Emre Can, Pierre Hojbjerg and Patrick Weihrauch have all held their own against Hansa Rostock, SG Sonnenhof Großaspach and Brescia, while Dortmund's own crop of young stars include left-back Jannik Bandowski as well as right midfielder Jonas Hofman. All of whom are worth keeping an eye on this year.
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