Updated: August 12, 2021 5:26:19 pm
The new Bundesliga season begins with Bayern Munich the favorite to win yet another title. Bayern begins its bid for a record-extending 10th consecutive German championship at Borussia Mönchengladbach on Friday. Here is a look at Bayern and the teams expected to push it hardest over the season.
The defending champion has a new coach as the 34-year-old Julian Nagelsmann takes over from Hansi Flick, who cut short his tenure to become Germany coach. Nagelsmann was coach of the year after making his breakthrough at Hoffenheim and he enhanced his reputation further at Leipzig, which he led to third and second place finishes in the Bundesliga. Nagelsmann’s Leipzig reached the Champions League semifinals in his first season and the German Cup final in his next.
Bayern’s biggest signing of the offseason also arrived from Leipzig. Bayern took advantage of Dayot Upamecano’s 42.5-million-euro ($50 million) buyout clause to bring the French defender to Munich. Bayern also signed English defender Omar Richards on a free transfer from second-division Reading, but otherwise there has been little activity despite the departures of David Alaba, Douglas Costa, Javi Martínez and Jérôme Boateng.
Nagelsmann will be expected to get the best from players like Leroy Sané or Marc Roca who have so far failed to live up to expectations.
Leipzig looks to be in good shape with American coach Jesse Marsch arriving from sister club Red Bull Salzburg to take over from Nagelsmann.
The club signed Portugal striker André Silva from league rival Eintracht Frankfurt for a reported 23 million euros ($27 million) and should also benefit from Dominik Szoboszlai’s return to fitness. The Hungarian striker, who joined from Salzburg in January, scored on his injury-delayed debut in the German Cup. Dutch forward Brian Brobbey also joined from Ajax Amsterdam.
Leipzig just needs to adjust for the departures of Upamecano and defender Ibrahima Konaté. The latter joined Liverpool in the offseason. There is speculation linking Marcel Sabitzer with a move to Bayern. The Austrian has turned down the club’s offer of an extension to his contract, which runs out next year.
But Dani Olmo is likely to play a bigger role after starring for Spain at Euro 2020 and Leipzig has shown before that it has enough strength in depth to make up for departures.
Last season showed both sides of Dortmund. The team was brilliant at times before slumping under Lucien Favre. The Swiss coach was replaced by interim coach Edin Terzic, who endured a rocky start before leading Dortmund to the German Cup title and into the Champions League at Frankfurt’s expense.
Terzic has now stepped aside for former Borussia Mönchengladbach coach Marco Rose to take over.
Jadon Sancho has left for Manchester United, and Dortmund reacted by bringing in Dutch forward Donyell Malen from PSV Eindhoven for a reported 30 million euros ($35 million).
In a boost for the club, captain Marco Reus opted not to take part at Euro 2020 so he could be better conditioned for the season ahead. Gio Reyna has taken Sancho’s No. 7, suggesting the American will be given more chances to shine, and Dortmund still has the remarkable Erling Haaland up front. The Norwegian started his season with a hat trick in the German Cup.
Dortmund’s biggest signing has been goalkeeper Gregor Kobel from Stuttgart, continuing a trend of Swiss goalkeepers at the club. The 23-year-old Kobel impressed at Stuttgart and will be expected to improve at the Westfalenstadion.
Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Frankfurt, Wolfsburg all have new coaches, but they will be focused on European qualification rather than the championship race. Hertha Berlin will also expect to do better after a brush with the relegation battle last season, while Stuttgart could be the team to watch in Pellegrino Matarazzo’s second full season as coach. The American’s team only lost to Barcelona in preseason and has shown enough quality to finish better than last season’s ninth place.
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