Paderborn in again in the Bundesliga after inglorious season 2014/15 when they ended up at the very last place and expressly returned to the second division. To make matters worse, in the following season they again ended up at the last place, this time in the 2.Bundesliga, and were again relegated, this time to the third league. It needed just a bit to be relegated to the fourth league but then they pulled themselves together and won the 2nd place the returned to the 2.Bundesliga, where they surprised everyone last year and again won the 2nd place and earned promotion to the Bundesliga. It was a dramatic finish of season in which Paderborn was quite lucky as it lost two out of last three matches. They lost at home only once throughout the whole season and were quite efficient. Manager Steffen Baumgart who has led Paderborn from the third division to the elite football league in Germany will lead them in the coming season that will be surely very challenging.
They lost two important players this summer, Tekpetey and Klement, which is of course a blow to team that needs additional reinforcements after being promoted to higher ranking league. Large number of new players has come but it is questionable are they adequate for the Bundesliga and all what will expect Paderborn. New forward is Memba from Cottbus, midfielder Holtmann was borrowed from Mainz, while Hilsner from Hansa Rostock can be also listed as reinforcement. Cauly from Duisburg is the new midfielder, while Drager is again in defence, who is borrowed from Freiburg. There are several others potentially good players but altogether Paderborn has a modest team.
Probable lineups Paderborn 07: Zingerle – Drager, Schonlau, Strohdiek, Collins – Gjasula – Proger, Cauly, Vasiliadis, Antwi-Adjei – Michel
Forecast: No one saw them in the Bundesliga this year but they surprised last season and here they are with just one objective, to survive. Realistically, it will be a miracle if they succeed in that as they don’t have quality for such strong league and objectively they are the first candidates for relegation.
Union Berlin made a historic success with promotion to the Bundesliga and it came there going through more difficult path. That is why the success is much sweeter as they had to go through the promotion play-off since they finished the regular season at the third place. In the last round Union Berlin had a great chance due to Paderborn’s mishap and if they won unmotivated Bochum they would have ended up at the second place. Given they drew Union Berlin stayed at the third place and ahead of them were two matches with Stuttgart. Their chances were regarded as slim at best but they managed to send Stuttgart to the second division after two draws. Union Berlin spent a larger part of the previous season in the third place without larger oscillations. They played much better at home where they lost just once, while outside their stadium they won only three times. Manager Urs Fischer is one of most deserving individual for the success and logically he will continue to lead the team.
Union Berlin didn’t lose too many important players as those who departed were mostly borrowed like Mane and Zulj, whom they want to return, just like they did with stopper Friedrich from Augsburg, midfielder Schmiedebach and forward Abdullahiem. Stopper Subotic is great reinforcement, while another experienced player arrived to the midfield, Gentner from Stuttgart. We need to mention two new forwards, Ujah and Ingvartsen. There are more new players and some of them might earn a place in the starting line-up but those that we have mentioned are, alongside key players from the previous season, basis for Union Berlin optimism in their first season in the Bundesliga.
Probable lineups Union Berlin: Gikiewicz – Trimmel, Subotic, Friedrich, Reichel – Schmiedebach, Promel, Gentner – Abdullahi, Ujah, Andersson
Forecast: One thing is certain and that is that Union Berlin won’t have trouble to find the right motive, so they could play good at the beginning of new season. Still, the season in long and there will be ups and downs. The teams doesn’t seem weak individually, however, many other things must fall into their right place for them to survive. Anyway, we definitely forecast for them a survival struggle.
Fortuna had returned to the Bundesliga last year and it played quite well. Many had predicted a bitter survival struggle but Fortuna had problems only at the beginning of season when they spent several rounds nailed to the bottom. They won just once in first 10 rounds and it seems that won’t have strength to survive, but something happened then and Fortuna won four times in a row and escaped the drop zone. They haven’t had any problems till the end of season which they finished with a peace of mind. Fortuna’s characteristic that it drew really rarely, only five times last season, meaning they didn’t bother with tactic and always played to win. Even when the situation seemed desperate they didn’t want to replace manager Funkel, and by that it was clear why they didn’t want to do that at the end of season, so he will lead Fortuna in this season too.
Good results made last year mean that some players distinguished themselves and by that they become interesting to some richer clubs. Forward Lukebako is definitely one of them but he was just borrowed and Fortuna lost him. Raman moved to Schalke, just like another forward Ducksch. Defender Kaminski departed as well, who was another borrowed player and Fortuna had to compensate their departures. It is questionable have they succeeded with brining forward Ampomah from Beveren, and borrowing Kownacki from Sampdoria and Tekpetey from Schalke. They also borrowed midfielders Thommy from Stuttgart and Baker from Chelsea, while new goalkeeper was borrowed from Manchester City. Pledl could be reinforcement for the midfield.
Probable lineups Fortuna Dusseldorf: Steffen – Zimmermann, Ayhan, Hoffmann, Gieselmann – Sobottka, Baker – Tekpetey, Stoger, Ampomah – Kownacki
Forecast: Fortuna struggled at the beginning of previous season but then they survived without a hitch. They would sign in advance to have rerun of the previous season but this time it could be much harder task. The team underwent number of changes and they did bring several good players, however, some of the best from the previous season left, which is why we see them in the group of teams that will fight to survive. It doesn’t mean that Fortuna will be relegated but it will have problems for sure.
Augsburg has been the first league team in last eight seasons, and it can be said that they have already become standard Bundesliga team. In that period they had one excellent season when they finished in the fifth place. After that, or more precisely in four previous seasons Augsburg made modest results and finished in the bottom half of the table, including the previous one which was the worst. They ended up in the 15th place and feared of relegation. The beginning of the season was good, but later on they had 10-game winless streak. Augsburg finished the season with another winless streak, this time four rounds long and defeat by Wolfsburg of 8-1 at the very end. Coach Martin Schmidt took the helm in April to prevent relegation and he succeeded so they gave him another chance, although the actual expectation is that Augsburg avoids the bitter survival struggle.
They lost two standard stoppers, as Hinteregger left for Frankfurt and Gouwelleuw has problems with injury, so they bought Oxford from West Ham. They also brought experienced Czech Suchy, while loan for goalkeeper Kobel has expired and they decided to buy Koubek from Rennes, with which they resolved problem with goalkeepers. Arrival of young Vargas from Lucerne should cover departure of midfielder Schmid, while arrival of Iago and Pedersen should cover departure of left back Stafylidis. Midfielder Gruezo, forward Sarenren Bazee and striker Niederlechner from Freiburg are also new reinforcements. That is lot of changes all over the team and that could be a problem, although they brought some really good players.
Probable lineups FC Augsburg: Koubek – Framberg, Gouweleeuw, Danso, Max – Khedira, Gruezo – Hahn, Vargas – Gregoritsch, Finnbogasson
Forecast: Some departures were real loss but they cover some of them and hope that would be enough. Although we can say that Augsburg is not weaker than it was, the previous season showed that they have to be stronger in order to avoid serious problems. Since we don’t believe that they are better than they were we put them in this group, although there are weaker teams that Augsburg should leave behind.
Freiburg was relegated from the Bundesliga only once in last ten years but they have expressly returned, so it can be said that they are still a stable first-league team which occasionally shines. They won the fifth and seventh place before but mostly were positioned in the bottom half of table. They were quite stable last season and with exception of first couple of rounds they always occupied positions between the 10th and 13th in the table, meaning there were no larger oscillations in their results. They ended up in the 13th place that they occupied for the most time but it should be said that Freiburg played very poorly away matches, winning only two of them. Eight-game winless streak in the second part of season didn't cost them much. They have one of the longest-serving managers in the Bundesliga and Christian Streich will lead Freiburg in this season as well, while the team didn’t change too much.
Forward Niederlechner has left but was anyway just the third choice so that wasn’t a big loss. Loan for midfielder Grifo from Hoffenheim has expired, while P. Stenzel was loaned to Stuttgart. That’s all what Freiburg lost and they brought mostly midfielders as reinforcements. New Freiburg’s members are Schmid from Augsburg and Kwon from Dijon, while Itter will increase competition at the left flank. They also brought young Jeong from Bayern second team as a perspective 19-year old player and it's hard to say will he play much. It is perhaps worth mentioning Rasset from Grasshoppers as they really didn’t go on a shopping spree. They will mostly rely on proven players who effortlessly prevent Freiburg from being relegated from the Bundesliga last season.
Probable lineups SC Freiburg: Schwolow – Schmid, R. Koch, Heintz, C. Gunter – Hofler, Frantz, Haberer, Kwon – Waldschmidt, Petersen
Forecast: Freiburg didn’t make too many changes and that means they are satisfied with the previous season. Perhaps they are even stronger than they used to be, but not for much and that is why we expect Freiburg again in the bottom half of table. They shouldn’t be relegated and perhaps there will be some struggle that should end well for Freiburg.
Cologne moved several times from the first to the second league during this century and now they are again in the Bundesliga. They spent one season in the 2.Bundesliga in which they won the first place and it can be said that they did it without problems, although there were several inexplicable series of bad results that didn’t overly affect their final position. Interestingly, they replaced manager Anfang near the end of the season and Andre Pawlak led Cologne by the end of season. It was also interesting that Cologne won more points away and had displayed remarkable efficiency, as they scored even 84 goals. Forward Terodde was their best player, who was also the best scorer of the league. Manager Pawlak didn’t stay and he has been replaced by Achim Beierlorzer, who can count on some interesting reinforcements.
First of all, we need to say that forward Guirassy left, who was anyway loaned. Midfielder Geis left as well, while veteran M. Lehmann ended his career. Much more interesting are reinforcements that Cologne brought. New stopper is young Bornauw from Anderlecht, while two new defensive midfielders are Skhiri from Montpellier and Verstraete from Ghent. We need to mention Ehizibue who will play at the right flank and Schindler who is destined for the midfield. Experienced forward Modeste can play for Cologne now after he returned to Cologne this winter and we can say that forward positions are really well covered. Overall, Cologne seems stronger than last season and their ambitions grew accordingly.
Probable lineups 1.FC Cologne: T .Horn – Ehizibue, Bornauw, J. Mere, J. Hector – Skhiri, Verstraete – Schaub, Drexler, Kainz – Terodde
Forecast: We have listed Cologne into group of teams that will fight to survive since it is a returnee to the Bundesliga but it wouldn’t be big surprise if Cologne ends up in the upper half of table. They have a team with which they shouldn’t even think about survival, unless they experience an unexplainable crisis like the one from two seasons ago. Realistically, they shouldn’t have any problems to finish around middle of table.