Bundesliga: 2010-11 Season Preview
Der Ball rollt wieder! The Bundesliga is back on Friday and everybody is looking forward to another great season in arguably Europe’s most exciting league. Germany’s Rekordmeister FC Bayern München have already sent out the warning signs to the rest of the Bundesliga having secured the DFB Supercup over Schalke 04 in Augsburg a fortnight ago. Seventeen clubs are hoping to knock the Bavarian giants off their perch but can anybody really stop Louis Van Gaal’s men from winning the Meisterschale for a 23rd time? Stoppage Time – International Football Blog previews the weekend’s games ahead of the new campaign:
It has become a recent tradition in the Bundesliga that the defending champions take part in the opening match of the following season but this season’s big kick-off sees the last two title winning teams facing off in Munich’s Allianz Arena on Friday. FC Bayern, under the stewardship of Louis Van Gaal, will hope to emulate their achievements of last season in which they won the league and cup double for the sixth time in the last decade. Their opponents will be 2008-09 champions VfL Wolfsburg who have reignited their ambitions by bringing in English coach Steve McClaren who has been such a success in neighbouring Holland with FC Twente Enschede. Not only have Die Wölfe kept hold of important players such as Džeko, Grafite and Misimović but have brought in some new talent such as Simon Kjær and Arne Friedrich.
Last season’s runners up Schalke 04 are hoping to go one better under determined coach Felix Magath and pulled off one of the transfer coups of the summer bringing in Real Madrid legend Raúl who, although is past his prime, can still perform on the highest stage and will bring some much needed experience to the Gelsenkirchen club. They play Hamburger SV on Saturday evening with the northern port club needing Ruud Van Nistelrooy to kick-start their season with plenty of goals after they narrowly missed out on a European place last season. Their northern neighbours Werder Bremen may be pre-occupied by UEFA Champions League qualification matters in the opening days of the new season but they’ll still want to get off to a good start especially as they have failed to win on the opening day of a league season since 2006-07. Their preparations have been hampered somewhat by the ongoing speculation surrounding their star player Mesut Özil whose move to Real Madrid was finalised today. Bremen’s opponents on Saturday are TSG 1899 Hoffenheim who are in their third season of Bundesliga football and still maintain the high ambitions they had from when they arrived on the scene in 2008-09.
In the other Saturday matches Eintracht Frankfurt will hope to continue their steady progress under coach Michael Skibbe and after a successful pre-season, the highlight of which was a 2-1 win over English double winners Chelsea FC, Die Adler will hope to better last season’s tenth place and challenge for a UEFA Europa League place. Having signed Theofanis Gekas from Bayer Leverkusen the club should be guaranteed more goals from a striker who is used to life in the Bundesliga. Eintracht play Hannover 96 who have suffered in recent times due to the untimely death of keeper Robert Enke but will approach this season fresh after staying up in the midst of last season’s relegation battle. Nürnberg, who avoided relegation last season thanks to a 5-0 aggregate win against FC Augsburg in the play-off, are away at five-times champions Borussia Mönchengladbach whilst the two newly-promoted teams both face away trips on the opening day of the new season. Last season’s 2. Bundesliga champions 1.FC Kaiserslautern return after a four year absence and travel to Cologne to play 1.FC Köln for whom superstar Lukas Podolski will want to get back amongst the goals after a disappointing 2009-10 campaign. St Pauli, the legendary cult club from Hamburg, also return to the top flight and may fancy their chances against an SC Freiburg side who finished 14th last term and are amongst the favourites for the drop having signed very few players in the close season.
On Sunday VfB Stuttgart, rejuvenated under the guidance of coach Christian Gross following the sacking of his predecessor Markus Babbel last Christmas, will hope to start with an away win at 1.FSV Mainz but that is no way guaranteed against a team who finished in a respectable ninth place in 2009-10. The final game of the weekend is a widely anticipated clash between an improving Borussia Dortmund and ambitious Bayer 04 Leverkusen who, despite an unbeaten 22 game start, could only finish in fourth place last season. Leverkusen have made their intentions clear for the new season by signing Michael Ballack from Chelsea and have kept stars Stefan Kießling, Patrick Helmes and Simon Rolfes although they had to see Toni Kroos return to FC Bayern after his loan spell. Dortmund have qualified for the UEFA Europa League in the two seasons that Jürgen Klopp has been their coach but they may harbour quiet ambitions towards the UEFA Champions League this time especially as they have kept the nucleus of the team which finished in fifth place last season.