German Football - 2018/19 Bundesliga Preview & Predictions
The 2018-19 Bundesliga kicks off on the weekend of 24th, 25th and 26th of August. Bayern Munich are aiming for their seventh consecutive title, but a rebooted Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 will be snapping at their heels.
2018-19 promises to be another campaign filled with intrigue and surprises in German football. A whole host of teams possess the potential to challenge the likes of Hoffenheim, Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig for European Football places while the Bundesliga has been unforgiving in recent seasons for relegating big clubs.
Last Time Out in the Bundesliga
The experiences of the Bundesliga’s big three from 2017/18 will play out long into the new season. If Bayern Munich’s title triumph demonstrated how to run a club to ensure a campaign-climaxing crescendo, Borussia Dortmund did just the opposite while Schalke showed they have enough to be in the mix for the top again next term.
After a slow start under Carlo Ancelotti last season, Bayern quickly made a change and legendary coach Jupp Heynckes took charge in October with the team still five points adrift of Borussia Dortmund. As the wheels then quickly fell off BVB’s title challenge, Heynckes led his team to a storming title win, only losing another three games.
At the Westfalenstadion, Peter Bosz simply couldn’t maintain the early campaign optimism which had flooded Dortmund and his replacement Peter Stöger could only keep the club on an even keel to finish third rather than hit enough heights to seriously challenge Bayern.
Elsewhere, 30 minutes along the road from Dortmund, fierce rivals Schalke were getting to know new boss Domenico Tedesco and the Royal Blues built steadily from a shaky start to end the season with an optimism-boosting second-place.
The Bundesliga Title Race
The Bundesliga 2018-19 race for top spot will be a tale of three managers. Joining Tedesco in the triumvirate of title-challenging coaches are Niko Kovač who arrives at Bayern from Eintracht Frankfurt and BVB will look to improve under the tutelage of new boss Lucien Favre.
This summer’s World Cup played a key part in how German football will shape up come August. So far European transfer windows have been quiet, but with the globe’s best players strutting their stuff in Russia, clubs were no doubt scouring the tournament to bolster their squads.
None more so than Borussia Dortmund who have still to unearth a prolific replacement for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who joined Arsenal last season. After Michy Batshuayi was drafted in on loan and then succumbed to injury, Maximillian Philipp and Andre Schurrle didn’t do a bad job up front, but neither are natural centre-forwards.
If the appointment of Lucien Favre hints that BVB will continue their swashbuckling attacking set up but with a new defensive resolution, the Aubemeyang-shaped no. 9 hole is the new manager’s top priority. Whoever it is, with Reus and Pulisic flanking them, they’re guaranteed to get chances but finding a proven hitman to convert them will be key to whether Borussia Dortmund can mount a serious title challenge.
Bayern have been boosted by contract extensions for Franck Ribery, Rafinha and Arjen Robben, while David Alaba has insisted he’s staying. Munich will continue their ruthless pursuit of silverware and the strategy for success at the Allianz Arena has always been to quickly identify challengers and put them back in their place. That often means snatching a rival’s best players, but Bayern are in transition this summer with Ribery and Robben now veterans and perhaps 2018-19 represents the best chance for a few years for others to prise German Football's biggest title from Bayern's grasp.
German Football: the Race for Europe
The top four of the Bundesliga qualify for the UEFA Champions League with the fifth and sixth spots landing a spot in the Europa League, and if the first three or four places are usually sewn up, 2018-19 has the potential for plenty of clubs to fight for European Football next time out.
Leverkusen developed into one of the best teams to watch last season under the tutelage of Heiko Herrlich and just missed out on Champions League football to Julian Nagelsmann's Hoffenheim, while RB Leipzig continued their steady assault on the upper echelons of the European football establishment. On their day, the Red Bull-backed outfit look a match for anybody and boast Timo Werner up front, who has been linked with Europe's top clubs for the last year.
Battle to Avoid the Drop
With Hamburg relegated for the first time last season, the German league’s menacing ability to humble almost anyone means the battle to avoid the drop looks like being a fierce one again.
Fortuna Dusseldorf could have a precarious season after winning promotion from Bundesliga 2, while Nürnberg who joined them are the most relegated and promoted side in Bundesliga history, so few would bet against them yo-yoing back down again.
Mainz 05 are being tipped to struggle again by some after finishing fifth from bottom last time, but in truth, there are about 12 sides in the league who already look like there’ll be little between them in the mid-table ranks and potentially anyone who finds themselves in the bottom half could get sucked down next season.
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