5 Bold Predictions for the New Bundesliga Season
As we approach the new Bundesliga season at full speed ahead, now seems a fitting time to sit down and evaluate just what we want from one of the best leagues in world football.
From pure speculation to cold expectations, fans of the German top flight will have their own views and comments on how each side is likely to perform this season, whether it be their own club, a fierce rival or perhaps even just a neutral club.
As such, today we go on and look ahead towards the new campaign with a pinch of hope and a shot of adrenaline to help us cope with whatever another year of football has in store for the German Bundesliga.
For the five boldest predictions that could possibly come to pass this season, click "Begin Slideshow" and enjoy.
Pep Guardiola Won't Win Any Major Trophies
Starting off with a prediction that seems as bold as one can get, the notion that Bayern Munich's new star manager will struggle in the Bundesliga during his inaugural season is one that shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.
In a piece I wrote earlier in the year cataloging why the manager may ultimately fail at the Bavarian giants, I listed a number of factors that ensured Pep of instant success at Barcelona—such as a runaway transfer budget and the god-like ability of Lionel Messi—that wouldn't be on offer in Germany.
Yet the initial problem that Pep has to address now is that he's simply changing too much, too soon and, as we've seen throughout the countless friendlies this summer—and the glamour tie against Dortmund last month—Bayern Munich don't look nearly as solid as they did last term.
As such, the squad looks unlikely to hit the ground running with the same imperial dominance of the German top division that saw Bayern go on an eight-game winning streak from match day one last season, as well as only losing a single game throughout the entire league campaign.
Of course, this isn't to say that they'll be anything but the same old Bayern, challenging for every competition throughout the season. But with a revitalized Dortmund thirsty for blood and two very strong challengers in Schalke and Leverkusen, it just seems unlikely that we'll see the same title-winning drive that won so much last season.
Werder Bremen Will Get Relegated
From possible title contenders to probable relegation candidates, the next prediction comes in the form of one of the Bundesliga's oldest and largest clubs finally facing the music in terms of their inevitable relegation from the German top division.
Werder Bremen, finalists in the 2009 UEFA Cup final, have been on a steady trajectory down the hierarchy of German football and were lucky to stay above the relegation spots last season after finishing 14th, only three points ahead of relegation-battling Hoffenheim.
What will trouble fans this year is the genuine lack of investment in the club's fortunes, with new manager Robin Dutt coming in as a coach with relatively little Bundesliga success throughout his patchy coaching career. There have also been no genuine replacements for the departing Kevin de Bruyne and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
These are obvious mistakes by the board, who have to date signed only Cedrick Makiadi from Freiburg and youth player Luca Caldirola, which may well see an end to the club's Bundesliga status.
Thorsten Fink Will Be the First Managerial Casualty
Continuing the tale of despair that is yet to set over this season's Bundesliga, the next bold prediction that seems likely to become truth is the inevitable demise of Thorsten Fink at Hamburg as the first fired manager in the German top flight.
Although Hamburg aren't exactly struggling at the moment, the utterly underwhelming tone that has set over the northern club during Fink's time is something that has always made him rather prickly with the fans.
Despite the fact that Hamburg have always been one of the largest clubs in Germany, the football on display and the quality of the squad playing it have steadily declined in recent years. And with the recent sale of Heung Min Son to Bayer Leverkusen—a club many Hamburg fans would consider direct rivals—this has become a powder-keg situation, just waiting for the right spark.
That spark is likely to be lit in the first five weeks of the coming campaign when Hamburg take on the might of Schalke and Dortmund in between showdowns with Hoffenheim, Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Braunschwg. These are three teams that the ex-Bayern player's squad will simply have to beat, alongside two sides who could thoroughly embarrass them.
Borussia Monchengladbach Will Get Back into the Champions League
One of the most baffling things about Gladbach is that they're arguably one of the best-run clubs in the league, with one of the best managers in the Bundesliga, in Lucien Favre, currently plying his trade there.
This makes them predictable in the sense that they should do well when left to their own devices, over the course of a season, but as we know fine well in football, very few clubs are left in peace. And as we saw last season, without Marco Reus or Dante, the club simply fell apart. Yet, this season will be different.
For the first time since the fire sale of last summer, Favre's side have been able to run through a transfer window on their own terms, selling players they feel comfortable letting go, in the shape of veteran striker Mike Hanke and Igor de Camargo, while spending time on the players they chose to bring in, such as Max Kruse and Raffael.
A stark contrast to the quick fixes of Luke de Jong or Granit Xhaka, who were initially brought in to help tackle the immediate danger of a squad without its backbone any longer, but ultimately failed to live up to their promise, Kruse plays like a Gladbach player ought to, while Raffael offers a similar level of expertise in a league he knows so well.
The one factor that gets in the way of this prediction is simply that of the competition around Gladbach at the moment, with the likes of Leverkusen, Schalke and Frankfurt all offering larger squads and budgets to the same goals.
Yet, in Favre we trust for that fourth Champions League spot.
Borussia Dortmund Will Win the Bundesliga
Perhaps as bold a claim as any, the concept of Borussia Dortmund overcoming this current Bayern Munich side and claiming their third Bundesliga trophy in four years seems downright impossible.
Yet in Jurgen Klopp and a side that did so well to get to the Champions League final last season, Dortmund have the tools to rebuild a championship-winning side once again, as well as maintaining the element of familiarity, something Bayern gave up with their new coach this summer. That could well prove vital between the two sides this season.
In retaining Robert Lewadowski for just one more year, Klopp was quick to stop the rot that may have brought the yellow and black ship down. With the signings of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, the young coach has not only increased Dortmund's strength of depth to a level akin to Bayern's, but also attained a number of fantastic players that could take the club back to the top level.
Yes, Bayern have strengthened too in none other than Mario Gotze, arguably the best player at Dortmund last season, along with the equally-talented Thiago Alcantara. Yet such brutish acts of strength are something Bayern have always played along to. Klopp was able to deal with this factor in 2011 and could well do so again this season, too.
Bayern have always had the best players, but that doesn't always mean they have the best shot at the title.