Hoffenheim had experienced a downfall last season in regard to the final position and as a consequence they didn’t reach the European scene. Two seasons before they won the third and fourth place respectively and they played in the Champions League, however, playing European matches drained their strength last year and they couldn’t keep up the pace in the Bundesliga. They had never been positioned better than the sixth place throughout the entire season, while weak results in the finish of season and particularly four-game winless streak at the very end cost them positions that lead to the Europa League. Hoffenheim finished in the ninth place having won practically the same number of points at home and away, and they failed to score in just two matches. Manager Nagelsmann didn’t give up the offensive play style but he is no more with Hoffenheim and his replacement is Alfred Schreuder, who had worked as Nagelsmann assistant.
One of reasons why we list Hoffenheim this season in the group of mid-table teams is their summer trading. They lost a lot; excellent forward Joelinton went to Newcastle, Demirbay and Amiri to Bayer Leverkusen, N. Schulz to Borussia Dortmund and Nelson returned to Arsenal. Practically all of them except Nelson were standard starters and that is going to leave a scar. This is even truer if we take a look at Hoffensheim acquisitions. They have brought midfielder Skov from Copenhagen and Bebou from Hannover for almost identical position at the midfield’s right flank. Experienced Rudy arrived to midfield too, and Safylidis goes at the left flank instead of N. Schulz. Hoffenheim returned number of loaned players including Zuber, Grifo, Akpoguma and Nordtveit, but it seems that are much weaker than before.
Probable lineups 1899 Hoffenheim: Baumann – Bicakcic, Vogt, B. Hubner – Kaderabek, Rudy, Grillitsch, Bittencourt, Bebou – Kramaric, Belfodil
Forecast: Perhaps they don’t look weaker if the look only at the best possible team, however, they lack rotations for several positions. Hoffenhim will miss all those who left and it is an open question how the new manager will put the things together. He might give up of offensive play style or he might continue using it. Hoffenheim doesn’t have obligations in Europe but despite that we don’t see them among top six teams.
In the previous season Wolfsburg finally returned to the top of Bundesliga. It wasn’t the very top but after two seasons when they ended in the 16th place and had to go through the relegation play-off, the sixth place is an excellent result. It means that Wolfsburg will play in the Europa League this season and that is also return of the Wolves at the European scene after several years of absence. They spent a larger part of season positioned between the 5th and 9th places and it was clear that will fight for European positions, and they reached it as they played very good in the finish of season. They had the same number of points like 5th-placed Borussia M’gladbach where the fourth place that is the last that leads to the Champions League was just three points away. Wolfsburg won eight matches at home and away, meaning they were one of more successful away teams. Near the end of season manager Labbadia had to leave and now Austrian Oliver Glasner is at the helm for whom this is the first job outside his home country.
Wolfsburg didn’t lose too much during the summer transfer window. Forward Dimata left, who was anyway borrowed and the same was with Osimhen. Left back Itter departed as well, just like two right backs S. Jung and experienced Verhaegh. That is why they bought Mbabu from the Swiss champion Young Boys. Two players were brought on the left flank, Victor from LASK and Otavio from Ingolstadt. The biggest reinforcement is midfielder Schlager from Salzburg and with him Wolfsburg should be stronger. Several players are back from loan and altogether Wolfsburg didn’t trade much. They were quite good last year and it was more important for them to keep the key players, so the biggest burden in the new season will take tried and tested players.
Probable lineups VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Mbabu, Brooks, Tisserand, Roussillon – Camacho, Guilavogui – Arnold, Schlager, Brekalo – Werghorst
Forecast: It hadn’t been expected that the Wolves will be that good last season but it can be said that was objective result for Wolfsburg. They are worth of the Europa League and given they didn’t make too many changes in the team they will probably again fight for same positions, although the competition is stronger and they won’t do any better.
Werder is regarded as team with most neutral fans in Germany and if we take a look how the team from Bremen played last year it might become clear why. They always play offensively and to win, regardless are they hosts or guests so in the end they had made roughly the same results in Bremen and away. They played just one match in the whole season when they didn’t score and that was when they faced champion Bayern in Munich, but even then they could have scored if one of their players wasn’t sent away. Werder can boast with 12-game unbeaten streak and reaching the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal where were stopped by later winner Bayern. They scored in each of five matches played in the Cup, however, in the end they haven’t made practically anything and they finished in the 8th place in the table. Manager Kohfeldt has kept his job and it means that Werder will not change its play style and they haven’t made too many changes in the team too.
Out of those who departed we should mention M. Kruse who was important part of the team last year but he is 31-year old and the end of his career is close. Forward Johannsson left as well, who had problems with injures and didn’t contribute almost a thing. Other departures are not worth mentioning, while out of newcomers the only worth mentioning is forward Fullkrug from Hannover who is practically replacement for above mentioned Kruse. Werder bought contract for stopper Friedel from Bayern and several other players are back from loan. They played attractive football last year and the team largely stayed the same so it is clear what we can expect.
Probable lineups Werder Bremen: Pavlenka – Gebre Selassie, Veljkovic, Moisander, Augustinsson – Sahin – Klaassen. M. Eggestein, J. Eggestein – Rashica, Fullkrug
Forecast: Werder is unpredictable and the only certain thing is that will play offensively. Their defence is largely composed of veterans and that is a problem. We believe that will easily receive goals, while on the other hands they will try to score as many as possible. Their success in the new season depends from how much will succeed in that. Middle of table seems like a quite realistic.
Two seasons ago Eintracht won the DFB-Pokal after defeating Bayern in the final and that was the highlight of the season. They started the previous season with debacle in the Super Cup against Bayern and elimination from the Cup in the first round despite being the title defenders. It seemed that the season will bring nothing but problems but in the end it could have been one of more successful in recent history. Eintracht did well in the Europa League where it reached the semi-finals when they were unluckily eliminated by later winner Chelsea after penalties. They held the fourth place in the Bundesliga for a long time, which could have taken them to the Champions League, however, they didn’t endure strenuous rhythm of playing on two fronts and they won no one in last six rounds and lost last three matches, which moved them down to the seventh place. They have reached the Europa League qualifications but it is just a consolation prize. Manager Hutter will continue to lead Eintracth but they lost two great stars.
Everything in Eintracth tactic was based last season on the striking trio and Jovic, Haller and Rebic had scored 41 out of 60 Eintracht goals in the Bundesliga. The three of them made number of assistances, mostly between themselves and given Eintracht success in Europe it was logical to attract attention of big clubs. Jovic ended in Real Madrid and Haller in West Ham, while Rebic stays where he is unless he also doesn’t leave in the meantime. The only other worth mentioning departure is of Willems, while regarding newcomers Eintracht mostly bought players who were already borrowed, like goalkeeper Trapp, stopper Hinteregger and midfielders Kostic and Rode. Midfielder Kohr, forward Sow and left back Durm are new members of Eintracth Frankfurt, while Sow is injured right now.
Probable lineups Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp – N'Dicka, Abraham, Hinteregger – da Costa, Torro, Kohr, Kostic – Gacinovic – Rebic, Paciencia
Forecast: Eintracth managed to excel in at least one competition in two previous seasons. They firstly did so in the DFB-Pokal and then in the Europa League, while in the Bundesliga they played solidly although couldn’t avoid crises that cost them so much. They lost two very important players and realistically are much weaker, so we don’t believe in repeating success in Europe. In the Bundesliga they are strong enough for the middle of table, or perhaps a bit better than that.
Hertha played well only at the beginning of previous season, after which they slowly but surely lost steam and in the end they finished in the modest 11th place. The consolation prize was that they didn’t have to worry about survival and they moved to the bottom half of table only in the second part of the championship, when they had seven-game winless streak out of which they lost five matches. In fact, they played quite poorly the entire second part of the season and in the end it can be said that were lucky enough to win enough points in the first part, otherwise they could have been in trouble. They failed to use the home-field advantage, where they had won most points in previous seasons. After the season finished manager Pal Dardai left the team and his successor is Ante Covic, who has spent his entire coaching career in Hertha’s younger categories and leading the second team so he is quite knowledgeable about the situation in the first team.
Regarding departures, only two are worth mentioning. Lazaro has left, who could cover the right flank and play in the midfield. Hertha made a nice profit selling him to Inter Milan. Lustenberger left as well who is also a versatile player, as he could play both stopper and defensive midfielder. Lukebakio is replacement for Lazaro and given how he played for Fortuna last season it can be said that Hertha brought a strong reinforcement. Lowen from Nuremberg arrived to the midfield, new stopper Boyat is borrowed from Celtic and young striker Radan from Chelsea. Esswein is again borrowed just like Grujic from Liverpool. They are clearly no weaker than they were last season, and only time will tell how good are players they brought this summer.
Probable lineups Hertha BSC: Jarstein – Klunter, Stark, Rekik, Plattenhardt – Maier, Grujic – Lukebakio, Duda, Dilrosun – Selke
Forecast: Hertha is sort of a true example of a mid-table team and its positions in previous years strongly coincided with this. The starting line-up doesn’t look bad at all and it seem that Hertha could join the race for the Europa League, although the question is do they have good replacements in case of injuries and tiredness. That is why is realistic to again be positioned around the middle of table.
Mainz become a standard first league team and has been in the Bundesliga in last ten seasons. They played very good in some of those seasons, even managing to reach the Europa League, and there were seasons when they ended in the bottom half of the table. Previous three were like that but last season they didn’t have to worry about survival. They ended up in the 12th place and were very far from the relegation zone in terms of points. In the second part of the season Mainz showed no oscillations in its performances. They played much better at home and because of all this there was no need to change the manager. Sandro Schwarz has led the team in last two seasons and this will be the third one in which Mainz ambition is to be far from the relegation zone, without imperative to do better than in the previous season.
They lost an important midfielder since they sold Gbamin to Everton but on the other hand they made a nice profit. Forward Ujah left, just like another striker Berggren, who was not in the foreground. Wingers Donati and Bussmann didn’t play much so they left too, while goalkeeper Adler and stopper Bungert ended their careers. Mainz strengthened its defence with stopper St. Juste who comes from Feyenoord. E. Fernandes will replace above mentioned Gbamin in the midfield, while Aaron was bough from Espanyol and he will play at the left flank. Right back Pierre-Gabriel came from Monaco, while Ji Dong arrived from Augsburg and he will play in the attack. Injury of forward Mateta is a problem at the beginning of season, while Ji Dong won’t play in the first part of the championship.
Probable lineups Mainz 05: F. Muller – Brosinski, Niakhate, St. Juste, Aaron – Kunde – E. Fernandes, Latza – Maxim, Boetius – Quaison
Forecast: Mainz lost a very important player but retained the most of its forces. Problem is that some players are injured at the beginning of new season, but they brought enough new players who will surely be helpful. It is neither realistic to expect Mainz in the top of the table nor to see it fighting for survival.