10 Unexpected Stars to Light Up the Bundesliga in the 2014/15 Season
The already-booming Bundesliga is set for another boost on the back of Germany's magnificent World Cup success in Brazil.
Here are 10 lesser-known, perhaps surprise names to take the German league by storm this season.
A gritty defensive midfielder in the Jens Jeremies mould, Bayern Munich fans will grow to like new signing Sebastian Rode.
Rode, who has signed a four-year deal, possesses all the tools to play his way into the Bayern first-team picture.
The 23-year-old will also look to break into the Germany squad for the forthcoming Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
With Thiago still indisposed through injury, the free transfer from Eintracht Frankfurt may get an early chance to prove his worth to Pep Guardiola.
Gonzalo Jara has amassed 69 caps for Chile, and he will be looking to recover from the disappointment of missing the decisive penalty at the World Cup for his country. Jara could only hit the post as Brazil eliminated Chile in the last-16 shootout.
The 28-year-old can play anywhere along the back line, and has spent four years in England with West Brom, Brighton and Nottingham Forest.
The defensive all-rounder is a more than useful addition to the Mainz ranks, a side that are likely to have the added burden of Europa League football this season.
Another star No. 10 for Wolfsburg, following in the footsteps as such legends as Diego, Zvjezdan Misimovic and er...Stefan Effenberg.
Aaron Hunt, a free-roaming attacking midfielder with an eye for goal, left Werder Bremen after 13 years of loyal service. He was expected to venture to the Premier League on account of his English mother but opted to stay in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg.
The 27-year-old earned widespread plaudits last season for his honesty at Bremen. Hunt forced the referee to immediately change an erroneously awarded penalty in a Bundesliga game against Nuremberg.
The attacking midfielder has been arguably TSV 1860 Munich's best player over the last two years.
Last season, no player provided more assists in Germany's second-tier than the 27-year-old Moritz Stoppelkamp.
Signed by Bundesliga new boys SC Paderborn for €700,000, Stoppelkamp can provide the unexpected for the unfancied side in their probable relegation battle.
Germany have an abundance of brilliant young goalkeeping talent. Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Bernd Leno, Ron-Robert Zieler, Oliver Baumann...the list goes on. But in my opinion, Eintracht Frankfurt's Kevin Trapp is the best of the bunch.
The outstanding 24-year-old glovesman has all the skills to become Manuel Neuer's successor, and it would seem only a matter of time before the ex-Kaiserslautern keeper breaks his way into the full Germany squad.
Trapp broke his left hand in March 2013 while filming a commercial with the German U21 side, but he is now back to full fitness and is sure to impress.
Julian Schieber will be keen to prove his ample critics wrong after a largely disappointing spell with Borussia Dortmund. The 25-year-old striker notched just three league goals in two seasons with BVB.
Hertha Berlin have shown great faith by investing €2.5 million in the striker, with a contract penned till 2018. If Schieber can reproduce some of the form that attracted Jurgen Klopp to him in the first place, then Hertha will have a bargain.
Two years of rubbing shoulders with some of the world's best players in Dortmund is sure to pay off in the less pressurised atmosphere of the German capital.
The U.S. international was actually born and bred in Germany's financial capital and is another player returning to his roots. The 24-year-old played all his youth football on the Main, before being farmed out to Franconia.
Signed on a three-year deal for €1 million from relegated Nurnberg, Timmy Chandler can slot into a whole host of defensive roles for Eintracht Frankfurt.
Expect him to have a huge role to play for Thomas Schaaf's revamped side.
The 24-year-old Japanese striker was outstanding in the final weeks of the season for TSV 1860 Munich. Six goals in 15 appearances in Germany's second-tier for the "Lions" were enough to convince Cologne to sign the athletic striker for €1.5 million.
The former Kashima Antlers attacker didn't catch the eye at the World Cup for Japan, but he continued his learning curve with two appearances on the highest stage. Expect him to have a strong season for the newly promoted side.
After languishing in the lower reaches of the Premier League with relegated Fulham, Sascha Riether is back in Germany, where he started his professional career at Freiburg.
A former Bundesliga winner with Wolfsburg, the 31-year-old former German international's experience will be crucial for the Breisgau side.
Riether's solidity at the back will compensate for the loss of star defender Matthias Ginter to Dortmund.
Younger brother of Eden, both Belgian Hazards belong to English Premier League side Chelsea. Twenty-one-year-old Thorgan has spent the previous two seasons on loan to Zulte Waregem back in Belgium. Now Chelsea have loaned the younger Hazard to Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany.
Look for Hazard to start making the headlines in a similar fashion to his slightly more famous elder brother in England.
Remember him? The forgotten man.
The classy central defender suffered a devastating right knee injury against Borussia Dortmund in December 2012. Holger Badstuber is making baby steps on a comeback, a whopping 17 months and four operations later.
The German international (30 caps) can have a huge season for Bayern Munich, provided he steers clear of the injury curse.
Follow Mark Lovell on Twitter: @LovellLowdown
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