When Bayern wins both domestic titles in a season that is far from ideal it is clear how must they were dominant in Germany. They didn’t spend most of the season occupying the first position and they went down even to the 3rd place. Borussia Dortmund threatened to retake the title and for a larger part of season only in the finish the Bavarians kicked into higher gear and overtook their big rival in the table. Once they retook the first place they didn’t allow to be removed from it anymore. Having just two points more than Borussia in the end was a warning they are no longer untouchable and that's why Bayern will start the new season more cautiously. They also won the DFB-Pokal last season although they struggled in some matches before the final. They were eliminated from the Champions League in the round of 16 and the only console could be fact that they were eliminated by future European champion Liverpool. Manager Niko Kovac was under a huge pressure and he was dancing on a thin rope throughout virtually the complete season but he avoided dismissal and eventually won two titles so he was rightly given a new opportunity to lead the team from Munich.
After many years Bayern will start a season without Robben and Ribery. These two players really marked a period in the Bavarians history. It cannot be said it was a loss now since both of them are near the end of their career. Regarding departures, there are no more stopper Hummels and midfielder J. Rodriguez, who was anyway only borrowed from Real Madrid. Rafinha left as well, who is also a veteran, and two defenders arrived, Pavard from Stuttgart and L. Hernandez from Atletico Madrid. The defence should be stronger, or more precisely manager Kovac should have a wider selection of players for large number of matches that awaits Bayern in the new season. Young forward Arp also came but we cannot call him reinforcement, while Ivan Perisic is expected to come from Inter Milan and he is a real replacement for, let’s say, Robben and his breakthroughs on flanks.
Probable lineups Bayern Munich: Neuer – Kimmich, Pavard, Sule, Alaba – Alcantara – Gnabry, Goretzka, T. Muller, Coman – Lewandowski
Forecast: It perhaps seems that Bayern is not so powerful but the Bavarians are again the strongest favourites to win the title. That is what this team is interested for since the 2nd place is a catastrophe for them. It is possible that Borussia will be again a dangerous opponent, however, the team from Munich is again the closest to win the title.
Borussia gave its maximum last season and they spent most of the championship in the leading position. They had a seven-point advantage over Bayern and rightly hoped that can finally end the Bavarians dominance and win the title. However, they lost steam in the finish of season and it cost them dearly. They lost the big derby in Munich by sound goal difference and that was the key moment after which they couldn’t recover any more. They were stopped in the round of 16 both in the DFB-Pokal and the Champions League and those were disappointing achievements. At the end of the championship they had only two points fewer than Bayern and were defeated only once at home by their bitter rival Schalke. Obviously, the club management was pleased how Swiss Lucien Favre led the team and he will continue to be the manager, but this time he will have a stronger team at his disposal.
The only loss worth mentioning is departure of stopper Diallo, and Borussia compensated with bringing experienced Hummels from Bayern Munich, or more precisely this stopper returned to Dortmund after a couple of years spent in Munich. They sold forward Philipp but it was obvious there won’t be much room for him in new Borussia’s line-up. They also let several players whom they anyway loaned, like Rodeo or Kagawa, while Schurrle and Pulisic, whom they sold to Chelsea last winter, are no more with the team. They bought striker P. Alcacer from Barcelona, as he proved to be very important for Dortmund last season. When it comes to new players, three great ones have arrived. Young Brandt was bought from Leverkusen, T. Hazard arrived from their namesake from M'gladbach, and N. Schulz will play at the left flank. Because of all this Borussia is a very strong team now; all positions are well covered, bench is long enough, and all together it seems very promising.
Probable lineups Borussia Dortmund: Burki – Hakimi, Akanji, Hummels, N. Schulz – Witsel, Delaney – Sancho, Reus, Brandt – P. Alcacer
Forecast: If they managed to parry Bayern last season and stay in the 1st place for a long time it is quite realistic to hope to finally end Bayern’s dominance in this one. They brought excellent reinforcements and kept practically all key players from the previous season so it is possible that the champion’s trophy arrive to Dortmund. The second place should be theirs unless they win the title.
Bayer Leverkusen finished in the 4th place last season and in that way qualified for the Champions League. It can be said that was expected result and the final position was objective, however, not everything went smoothly in the course of the season. They started off on the wrong foot and were even nailed to the bottom of table but then things gradually improved. They decided to replace manager Herrlich in December and it wasn’t a bad move, given that Peter Bosz further improved the way how Bayer played and is definitely the most deserving for winning the 4th place. It is interesting that the team from Leverkusen were never better positioned than the fifth place before the last round, but then they won Herth and moved up at the 4th place. Bayer won five times and drew once in last six rounds and that was what has taken them to the Champions League.
Regarding the summer transfer window we can say that Bayer lost two valuable players. Departure of young midfielder Brandt will be felt and it is a bad thing that he moved to Borussia Dortmund, which is now stronger. Another loss is departure of midfielder Kohra, who moved to Eintracht Frankfurt and it was another strengthening of Bayer’s rivals. Other departures are not worth mentioning, while regarding new players Bayer brought four. Two players came from Hoffenheim; Demirbay and Nadiem Amiri. These two players are practically replacement for Brandt and it can be said that Bayern nicely compensated the loss. They also brought young Diaby from PSG, as well as Sincgrave who is suppose to reinforce the left flank, but the two of them are unlikely to be in the foreground. It can be said that the two of them are of approximately similar quality, of course if Demirbay and Amiri will play as they did in Hoffenheim and be a real replacement for Brandt.
Probable lineups Bayer Leverkusen: Hradecky – Weiser, Tah, Retsos, Wendell – L. Bender, Aranguiz – Bailey, Havertz, Demirbay – Volland
Forecast: Realistically the leading duo from the previous season is untouchable for the rest of league including Bayer. The team from Leverkusen wants the third place but they are not alone in that. They have to avoid a weak start like the one from the previous season and if they do so they can hope, although they wouldn’t be too unhappy if they end up in the 4th place.
Leipzig has become a standard top tier team in the Bundesliga, although two seasons ago it experienced a slight decline. Last year Leipzig was again very good and in the end they were positioned right behind the untouchable duo. They had certain problems at the very beginning of the season and then were positioned in the 3rd or 4th place practically all the time. Long before the end of the season they reached the 3rd place and then created the point difference that was unreachable for all teams below them. They had eight points more than Bayer, and the advantage could have been even bigger but they relaxed in last three rounds when they didn’t win anyone. They focused on the DFB-Pokal, or more precisely the final against Bayern, which they easily lost and are still without titles. Ralf Rangnick is no longer the manager and he has been replaced by Julien Nagelsmann, which should be real refreshment for Leipzig, alongside several changes in the team.
Leipzig practically lost nothing in the summer transfer window as only Bruma left. He wasn't exactly the standard starter and he was more a replacement when some other players got exhausted. They sold him to PSV Eindhoven and brought Lookman from Everton for that position, player who already wore Leipzig’s jersey. They also brought several young players; midfielder Nkunku from PSG, Hannes Wolf from Salzburg and left-back Candido from Palmeiras, but the last one is too young to be the first choice for that position. Given that they have kept all the big stars it is very realistic to expect that the starting line-up will be practically the same as the last season, or in other words the rookies are going to wait for their chance sitting on the bench. Leipzig will have a lot of obligations due to the Champions League and they need a wide bench.
Vjerovatni početni sastav RB Leipzig: Gulacsi – Klostermann, Orban, Konate, Halstenberg – Kampl, Demm, Sabitzer, Forsberg – Y. Poulsen, Ti. Werner
Forecast: Leipzig kept its biggest stars and they brought young players as reinforcements. The Champions League could be a problem as it takes lot of strength. It is objective to again aim at the 3rd place as two teams are objectively stronger but it won’t be easy to defend even that position that two or three other teams also want.
Schalke will try to forget the last season as soon as possible as this team played way below expected level in the German championship. Schalke didn't look bad in the Champions League and it reached the round of 16 after doing solidly in the group stage. However, in the first round of the knockout phase they faced very good Manchester City which humiliated by even 7-0 and that was the end of road for manager Tedesco. Huub Stevens came as a lifesaver but he didn't do anything special either and Schalke stayed in the bottom half of the table and very close to the relegation zone. They didn’t secure their survival until the very end of the season, and that tells enough how they played. They won just five points more than Stuttgart that ended up in a place that led to the relegation play-off. It is interesting that Schalke won more points outside its stadium and was defeated even 10 times at home. They reached the quarter-finals of the DFB-Pokal, where were stopped by Werder after losing in Gelsenkirchen. Stevens won’t continue to lead the team in the new season and it will be David Wagner, who was manager of English Huddersfield in last five years.
Schalke definitely wants to do a lot better than last season but it is questionable how objective is their desire. They probably can't go up and that makes life easier for Schalke and the new manager. They sold forward Embolo, who had lot of problems with injuries, and there is no more goalie Fahrmann, who anyway lost position of the first goalkeeper. Midfielder Rudy definitely left the team, just like several other players who were borrowed. The strongest reinforcement is stopper Kabak, who came from Stuttgart and will definitely be a starter right away. Kenny, who is borrowed from Everton, goes at the right flank, and Raman from Fortuna Dusseldorf should strengthen the midfield. Several players are back from loans and that's it. It is hard to tell are they are much stronger individually, but they could perform differently with the new coach.
Probable lineups Schalke 04: Nubel – Nastasic, S. Sane, Kabak – Kenny, Mascarell, Serdar, McKennie, Oczipka – Harit, G. Burgstaller
Forecast: It is quite realistic to expect that Schalke does better than the last season which they finished in the 14th place. The question is how much better they can as they didn’t bring too many new players. They might play differently with the new manager and we believe that Schalke can join the race for the Europa League, while the Champions League is out of their reach.
Borussia didn’t play in European competitions last season and was eliminated from the DFB-Pokal already in the second round, so they could have maximally focus on the Bundesliga. They were positioned quite good in the table for the bigger part of the season, and even occupied the 2nd place. Then they spent some time in the 3rd place and everything suggests qualifying for the Champions League. In the end, nothing of that happened as they won only once in last five rounds and ended the season with a home defeat by the namesake from Dortmund. Borussia M’gladbach finished as the fifth and has to settle for the Europa League. Manager Dieter Hecking didn’t stay and it can be said that the club management did the right thing as they expected more last season. Marco Rose is the new manager, who led Austrian Salzburg with great success in last two seasons. Borussia fans have high hopes for him in the new season, although the club hasn’t traded too much and didn’t bring too many new players.
They brought three players and all of them are supposed to be true reinforcements. New manager Rose brought with him from Salzburg right back Stefan Lainer. New foward is Embolo from Schalke, and Thuram from Guingamp will also play in the attack. The only real loss is departure of T. Hazard and that could be felt although there are several players who can replace him, including the above mentioned Thuram. Forward Drmic has definitely departed but he was anyway only borrowed and now they have Embolo. Borussia could have problems with injuries at the very beginning and we should mention here forward Stindle, who will return no sooner than in November. That is why newcomer Thuram could be the starter alongside reliable defender Lainer.
Probable lineups Borussia M'gladbach: Sommer – Lainer, Ginter, Elvedi, Wendt – Zakaria, Strobl, Neuhaus, Hofmann – Plea, Thuram
Forecast: Borussia lost a valuable player but they brought three good reinforcements and it can be said that are stronger than last season. It doesn’t mean they can do a lot better as their rivals also strengthened their ranks. Borussia’s objective is to reach the Champions League, however, we don’t believe they are ready for that and it is more realistic to expect the 5th or 6th place and new qualification for the Europa League.